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Early case assessment

By contributing author Brad Blickstein, Blickstein Group, on legal service providers:

Often overlooked by those involved in electronic discovery is the fact that energy expended on it can often be detrimental to the case itself. A careful look at the results of a recent LexisNexis survey on early case assessment shows how.

The survey reports that respondents claimed that, on average, performing early case assessment results in a favorable outcome in 76% of cases–among other benefits. But 64% also said that time is the greatest barrier to performing an effective assessment. Respondents also listed the most important elements of early case assessment as: an initial review of case facts, collecting key documents, looking at case law, interviewing clients and creating a fact chronology.

For many law departments, the early days of a case are spent focusing on discovery: getting ready for a meet and confer (this has been exacerbated by the new FRCP), figuring out where data is, setting guidelines for what must be produced, reviewed, etc. While all of this is necessary, none of it is valuable. I urge corporations to spend time and energy now developing and implementing an ongoing, regular discovery process–after all, it is highly process-oriented work. Any good consultant or e-discovery provider can help with this. With that in place, the legal team can focus on the case earlier, and reap the many benefits of early case assessment.