eDiscovery Professionals: Order-taking or Consulting? – Consulting Skills
August 15, 2012
Last week, we talked about shifting from order-taking to consulting. Having knowledge and experience isn’t enough to be an effective eDiscovery consultant in a law firm. There are several hats you need to wear and skills you need to hone to do it well. Here are a few of the key skills you’ll need to develop:
- You need to be a good communicator: Communication is a two way street – it includes receiving information and giving information. On the receiving end, develop good interviewing skills. You’ll need to ask lots of questions and dig deep for information when working with clients, so be prepared with questions and a list of topics to discuss. On the giving end, learn how to gauge your audience and speak to their level of understanding and knowledge. Use terminology that they’ll understand and examples that are relevant to them.
- You need to be an educator: Your job as a consultant isn’t to make decisions on how things will be done. Rather, it is to provide your clients with the information they need so they can make good decisions. That means educating them. It means presenting options and providing enough information about each so that their choices are clear and they understand the pros and cons of each option. Of course, there will be times when there is a clear “best choice” and your opinion on that will be valuable. It’s always best, however, to present options when possible.
- You need to build good relationships with your clients: Building trust with your clients is critical. This is a process that takes some time, but it’s not difficult. Here are a few tips that go a long way towards developing a good relationship with a client:
- Always deliver what you promise.
- Be incredibly responsive and punctual. Never be late for a meeting and always respond quickly to phone calls and email.
- Always be upfront about what you don’t know and what you can’t do. But, fill in those gaps quickly and get back to clients with information or resources that will get them what they need.
- Anticipate their needs. Find out where they are on their cases and you’ll have a good idea of what’s coming next. Suggest ways in which you can help.
- You need to be a good problem solver. You’ve been working in litigation and eDiscovery for a while, and you know that problems are inevitable. Often, you’ll be able to anticipate what problems may arise. To the extent that you can, incorporate preventative steps into the approaches you suggest. Have a plan for dealing with problems, and when they do arise, stay calm and focused on a solution.
Stay tuned for the next posts in this series… I’m going to give you some handy consulting tips and we’ll cover opportunities to provide eDiscovery consulting on a case. Please let us know your thoughts on this. Do you function as a consultant in your firm? What skills do you find important? Do you have tips you can share? And please let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.