7 Ways to Lawyer from Home More Efficiently

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First and foremost, this is not another “Top 10 WFH Tips” article that tells you to wear real pants, stick to a routine, and not turn yourself into a Zoom potato. Rather, we’re examining seven of the unique challenges lawyers face as you continue serving your clients remotely, as well as adjustments you can make to your practice today to keep right on lawyering in a world that is changing by the hour.

1. Collaborating with your case team while in lockdown

Identifying relevant and impactful testimony has always been paramount to building a strong case strategy, and yet the ready collaboration required to perform this legal work has never been more difficult, as entire firms are relegated to working from their respective kitchen tables. Video conferencing (via Skype, Zoom, WebEx, etc.) may suffice in other professions, but lawyers’ needs extend beyond this type of communication. Unless everyone is working off of the same copies of the same documents and work product, the advantages of case team collaboration can fall flat.

In the practice of law, support from advanced legal technology that allows for real-time, collaborative work product creation in a single repository is essential to today’s document and testimony review. A modern platform enables attorneys to share insights with experts, co-counsel, and clients, augmenting the value attorneys can deliver to those clients,  even as their case teams shelter in place. While the use of technology for collaboration is becoming more important every day, now it is a plain necessity.

2. Obtaining data remotely and quickly

 In the Beforetime, data collection typically involved dispatching a team member to extract data in person, save that information on an encrypted drive, and ship that drive to a service provider’s physical office, where the data it contained could finally be extracted again, staged, and processed. That this burdensome model was the status quo until mere months ago is almost inconceivable now. 

The new normal has manifested virtually overnight. Now, practitioners equipped with a toolset to securely and rapidly ingest client data into their ediscovery and deposition review platforms from anywhere can prepare ESI (electronically stored information) and oral testimony for review even faster than they could before. 

3. Taking and analyzing depositions remotely

Delays to trial and in-person depositions may have stalled your cases, but the demands of deposition review continue. Unfortunately, the deposition binders on your office bookshelf or the case management software on your computer at work likely aren’t much help now. Even so, depositions must be reviewed and scrutinized for motions, other depositions, additional discovery requests, or to fully examine their impact on a case. 

As a litigator, you can make the most of remote depositions by encouraging your organization to support your need for next-generation technology that makes evidence prioritization as easy as finding your new favorite Zoom background.

4. Getting ediscovery insights quickly

With rising cost pressures from increasingly cash-conscious clients, the need to efficiently gain insights into case data has never been more pressing. Clunky workflows and reliance on third-party vendors can make it more difficult for litigators to decide how and where to spend their limited review time, especially early in a case — and erode the value of the hours that remain. Document review prioritization frustrated many attorneys during normal business operations -- and the challenge has only compounded since remote work became the norm.

Protecting document review time for devising case strategy in the work-from-home age shouldn’t require heavy lifting on the part of practitioners. Prioritized document review backed by AI, fast and interactive search and visualization across your data is table stakes functionality for legal teams looking to continue without interruption their ediscovery and deposition preparation work. 

5. Meeting document review deadlines with reduced capacity

Many document review centers and law offices may have been shuttered as “non-essential” businesses, and yet timely, secure ediscovery review remains critical for many in-flight lawsuits. 

DISCO’s remote managed review and professional services teams can provide the added resources your team needs when reviewers, attorneys, or vendors may not be available or when you need the security of an on-time, on-budget guarantee for your review.

6. Selecting witnesses and preparing for trial

Conducting remote depositions via videoconference makes a review of that video more important, since no one is in the room with the witness to assess the credibility, substance, and delivery of their testimony and its impact on your case. 

When it comes time to review depositions and assess key witnesses or identify which specific excerpts and video clips may help your case most, you need an effective way to search across and review video depositions and transcripts and to share the most compelling evidence you find. Technology that makes this process user-friendly will no doubt greatly impact both your designation identification and witness preparation.

7. Not losing your mind 

During our weekly “Five O’Clock Somewhere” Zoom happy hours, where our ediscovery friends new and old come together virtually to relax and have a laugh, it has quickly become evident that we’re all learning how to maintain our sanity with ever-more creative coping mechanisms. And just as these moments of levity can prevent you from losing your mind entirely, so too can the knowledge that all of your work product is captured and safe in one modern, cloud-based technology.

For attorneys, trying to ascertain when or if you can return to practice as normal can feel like reading tea leaves or a Magic 8-Ball. In place of uncertainty, you can adopt a forward-thinking approach now to legal activities like ediscovery, deposition review, and witness assessment that will empower your team to continue delivering to your clients no matter how long lawyering happens at home — and you’ll see improvements to your practice that persist even after you return to the office.

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Scott Upchurch and Susan Stuehrk