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Tailored training maximizes eDiscovery efficiency

Tailored training helps law firms get the most out of eDiscovery software, says Jason Bell-Masterson, director at the Toronto branch of legal technology company Epiq.

Bell-Masterson tells AdvocateDaily.com that Epiq’s dedicated training team and client service professionals are crucial to the law firm clientele’s successful implementation of a particular program.    

“As with most things in eDiscovery, allocating some time upfront for training yields dividends later. You can jump straight into many of these programs and get somewhere, but you’re not going to be as efficient as you need to be,” he says. “The kind of training you give on review software depends very much on who you’re delivering it to.

“We try to tailor instruction to the needs of the individual receiving the training,” Bell-Masterson adds.

For example, he says junior associates or articling students tasked mainly with first-level document review will receive instruction with a more mechanical focus since their work involves clicking through documents and labelling them in relation to the litigation at hand.

“We will show them the different views that are available, how to make it text-only, as well as how to open up the original version of the document they’re looking at,” Bell-Masterson says. “You want to give them all the tools they need to make a call on whether a document is relevant or privileged.

“Another aspect they would be interested in is keyboard shortcuts that enable them to code documents and quickly move onto the next one, so they can be most efficient in their review,” he adds.

By contrast, a senior lawyer in the firm is more likely to be concerned with seeking out particular documents and working out how they link to one another.

“The training there would focus more on how to craft more complicated techniques, utilizing fuzzy searching, proximity searching and others that can help them call up the documents they’re looking for,” Bell-Masterson says.

In addition, he says partners formulating litigation strategy have much to gain from learning how to use Epiq’s conceptual analytic tools, which search for relevant portions of documents and will group files together based on the presence and prevalence of related words, giving lawyers unique insights into their cases during eDiscovery.

“That’s one way to see what’s being collected at a high level,” Bell-Masterson explains. “You can draw social networking graphs as a way to visualize who is communicating with whom within the documents.”

Another category of law-firm employees with unique needs are litigation support professionals carrying out administrative tasks, says Bell-Masterson.

“They’re likely to be called upon to export metadata or convert certain documents of interest to a PDF,” he says. “Their training will focus less on the actual review and more on those functional realities of whatever platform they are using.”

Once law firm clients are up and running with the software, Bell-Masterson says, Epiq’s training and client service team are on call to help with any issues they run into. When a lawyer or litigation support person is stumped by a particular task, he says Epiq’s team will not only perform it for them but will also provide instructions and screenshots explaining how to do it themselves in the future.

“We think of it as empowering them,” Bell-Masterson says. “Of course, we’re happy to do it for them, but even though we answer very quickly, those are little bits of turnaround time that can be cut out of the process in the future.”

He says some of the most valuable advice Epiq’s team can provide to senior lawyers concerns the crafting of searches for documents.

“If they want all the communications between person A and person B, in addition to showing them those results, we can also walk them through how we accomplished it,” Bell-Masterson says. “Hopefully, that provides an opportunity for them to learn and combine that knowledge with their more substantive comprehension of the subject matter to craft searches that will be more useful for them.”     

The other value of training is that Epiq’s software experts can educate lawyers about the limitations of the programs they are using, as well as their benefits, Bell-Masterson adds.

“It helps in setting expectations in terms of what is possible, and the amount of work involved in certain requests,” he says. “We’ll try to coach them along, but if they understand upfront how the software works, they’re less likely to be surprised when they learn that a certain request could take two days to perform.”

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