As technology has increasingly permeated the legal environment, the need to join information technology and legal issues has never been more critical. Increasingly, e-disclosure vendors have turned to project management as the bridge between these two worlds for e-disclosure.

Project management bridges the gap between legal issues and information technology to take processed/restored/culled data and provide meaning in the context of ongoing litigation matters. Instead of passing along 100 page spreadsheets with the results from keyword searches and custodian lists, project managers deliver reports that help inform the context and meaning of these mountains of information.

As technology has moved from boxes of paper documents filling the halls of law firms to terabytes of data representing email files, disaster recovery backups, and other forms of electronically stored information, the need has grown to give context and meaning to the ever-growing masses of information. Law firms and corporate legal departments, especially, have struggled to strike a balance in the interaction of IT professionals, paralegals, and attorneys in terms of who is handling the lion’s share of early discovery work. In many cases, paralegals and IT departments are handling most of the early stage discovery work, with attorneys becoming involved as a particular matter edges closer to the trial stage.

In order to juggle the intricate relationship between substantive law, discovery procedure, and information systems technology, E-Disclosure companies have turned to project management as the bridge between these vastly different functional areas. An effective project manager serves as part E-Disclosure consultant, sales engineer and analytical problem solver in this relatively new industry. Since requirements, and therefore expectations, of the end client are constantly changing, how a project manager consistently communicates status updates is a critical factor for success.

In addition to the day-to-day utility of project management assisting law firms, corporations, and government entities through the E-Disclosure process, this critical function will increasingly serve as a differentiator in the larger e-disclosure marketplace. Organizations that are best able to bridge the gap between legal issues and information technology will ultimately become the standard against which others are judged.

Advances in technology and e-disclosure processing capabilities are increasingly commoditizing the legal services market, thus quality of service and ability to provide added value become a greater measure of the true value of litigation support and e-disclosure vendors. Ultimately, those organizations that are best able to create meaning out of massive amounts of data and drive the integration between procedure, technology, and substantive law will emerge at the top of the heap, and those who cannot will be left behind.

Project managers lead pre-job meetings that outline the expectations and deliverables to make sure that the client is on the same page with the production group and the sales team. From that point, regular updates are provided to the client as to the status of the job, as well as bringing up any potential issues to the client before they become critical stops. Project manager continually works with the client, production, and sales to solve any problems that arise, as well as potentially adjusting expectations and deliverables as those issues are resolved or worked around. Project managers work with the client to establish the best method for deliverables, whether hard drive, CD, through electronic transmission, or other mutually established format.

A good project manager will understand what the client needs not just for a particular task/job, but the larger needs of the clients in the long term, to recognize additional issues, future needs, or gaps between what the client may ask for and what the client’s true needs may be. A project manager is the true tie-in between what the client asks for and what that client really needs.