eDiscovery Professionals: Order-taking or Consulting? – Consulting Tips for Meetings
August 29, 2012
Last week in this blog series on eDiscovery Professionals: Order-taking or Consulting?, I gave you some tips for working with your clients in a consultant capacity. Those suggestions were aimed at a general approach to take to consulting on your projects. As a consultant, you will likely be involved in meetings with litigation teams. Here are some tips – some do’s and don’ts – for those meetings:
- Don’t ignore anyone in a meeting: Don’t focus all of your attention on only the senior people. Make sure you engage everybody attending the meeting. Make eye contact with everyone, and ask everyone questions. You want to get everyone on board, and you certainly don’t want to ignore non-senior participants who may have influence over the decision makers.
- Address everyone’s concerns: This is closely related to the first point, but let me be a little more specific. You want everyone in the meeting to be comfortable with approaches you suggest. While a suggestion you make may have obvious appeal to senior people, it may cause concern with others. Perhaps there are paralegals in attendance who won’t see how they fit into a suggested approach – who may even feel threatened by something you suggest. In that situation, describe the role of a paralegal as you make your suggestion. Your goal should be to get everyone on board.
- Be respectful of your clients’ time. I mentioned this point in last week’s post, but it’s applicable here and worth repeating. Start meetings on time, stay focused on what needs to be accomplished, and finish on schedule.
- Be well-organized and well-prepared. If you appear “scattered”, your suggestions may not be credible.
- Verify your understanding of a situation. As you move through a meeting and learn about the case, the requirements, and the preferences of the litigation team, repeat back to the team your understanding of the situation. You want to ensure – as you go – that you’ve got a good picture of the situation.
- Gauge your audience and adjust your approach – as needed – to accommodate your audience’s level of knowledge, their familiarity with terminology, their level of interest, how much detail they want, and their level of interest in each topic. You want to make every topic you discuss relevant and useful to participants in the meeting.
- Lead your audience to the “right” decision (when there is a “right” decision). When possible, rather than telling someone “that’s a bad idea”, give them the information they need to come to the right decision on their own.
- Take every opportunity you can to make individuals look good. This can really help to get people on board. If someone has a good idea, make sure to comment on it. If you’ve worked with someone before and they did a good job using an approach you’d like to employ, tell the group “John used this approach on the ABC case and it was a huge success!” If you’re introducing new technology and there’s a technically adept paralegal in the group, tell the group “I’ve worked with Mary before and she’s really picked up on new tools quickly. She won’t have any problem with the load process in this tool”. You get the picture.
- Admit when you don’t something. Don’t fumble through discussion of something you’re unsure of. If you don’t know something, tell the group. Tell them you’ll find out, and then do so – and get back to them quickly with information.
In next week’s post, we’ll start talking about opportunities for consulting in a typical case. Please let us know your thoughts on this. Do you have tips you can share for working effectively as a consultant with a litigation team? 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.