Data Trends: The Evolving Role of the eDiscovery Project Manager


Traci Gray

Traci Gray is a Project Manager with Special Counsel.

Project Management is the structured application of skill, knowledge, tools and techniques to organize activities and bring about a desired outcome that meets a project or business need. Emerging software platforms and new versions of ESI that change the way we review data are constantly changing. When the technology around us changes, it is important that the role of the E-Discovery Project Manager also evolve. 

It is imperative that the project manager stay in touch with emerging trends in order to maximize efficiency. The sheer quantity of data often requires that the project manager take the project from initial set-up and be able to offer viable suggestions to counsel as to the review strategy. This is a significant change from the role in the past, where often than not the project manager was there to simply follow instructions from counsel with little to no actual input as to the direction of the review.

Changing expectations with new technologies

A great project manager has to learn to do it all in order provide value to the client. The emphasis is shifting from standard document reviews to those dedicated to implementing predictive coding and technology assisted review (TAR). Training and certification in e-discovery platforms using TAR is imperative for today’s project manager. Relativity and Brainspace both have on-line certification programs to help one attain the high-level understanding needed for each stage of the e-discovery review. While these certifications may be costly to obtain, they are a great way to increase your overall knowledge and differentiate yourself from the competition. Those project managers without this necessary training will eventually find themselves obsolete.

E-Discovery project managers also must be able to control and manage the review budget. Allocating reviewers, directing workflow, and managing costs are imperative to a successful review. No firm has access to an unlimited budget to spend on a review project. End clients are setting firm limits on the amounts that they are willing to spend on the discovery aspects of the litigation. If counsel comes to you and states, “We have X amount of dollars to complete this review. Get it done”, the project manager can’t approach the project from the view of just managing the documents. They must now play a strategic game of chess, allocating resources where necessary while keeping an eye on the ever-impending deadline. Implementing TAR to reduce the number of documents necessary for review is an excellent remedy for working within a tight budget.

Effective client communication is key

While the ultimate goal is to anticipate every client need, the reality is that by setting expectations early on, the chances for a successful project exponentially increase. Ask the client directly what it is that they need and make suggestions as to how to get it done. If you keep abreast of emerging trends, you can demonstrate that not only do you value their business but are committed to providing the best possible service at a reasonable cost.

Project managers at Special Counsel are evolving to meet the changing needs in the e-discovery world. If you’re interested in learning more about salaries and trends in the legal industry, check out our 2019 Salary Guide.

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