I was tuned in to a webinar yesterday by the Cowen Group when one of the speakers talked about the need for a deep bench in Litigation Support. Being a sports fan, I instantly understood exactly what she was saying.
Her point was that the firm’s clients experience and expertise when it comes to e-discovery, is going to be all over the place. Some will be very sophisticated, and have well-defined processes that marry quite well with the firms internal processes. Others will be completely clueless, and whatever process they hack together may require a lot of flexibility in your internal processes. It’s important to have a staff with the capabilities to handle any and all of these situations. That means having people who can directly interface with clients, with the lawyers, and with the IT folks. It means having folks who can handle the back-end technology to take whatever it is a firm gets from a client, opposing counsel, or a third party, and get it into a form that the firm’s attorneys can review.
Much like a sports team, having a deep bench doesn’t mean that you will win every game. It does mean that you’ll be better prepared to handle adversity, and uncommon situations, which will mean you’ll win more often than teams without that deep bench, though!
That got me thinking though, about all the time I spent in my career as the only IT guy, or the only Lit Support person in a firm, etc. Obviously, in that case, you aren’t talking about having a deep bench in terms of the number of staff members, but you still need a deep bench of knowledge and skills to reach in to from time to time. That means not only being adept with the technology, but with written and verbal communication skills, training skills, professionalism, critical thinking and many other skills.
The other thing you need is a deep bench of resources, be they reference materials, websites, blogs, peer networks, online social networks, etc. If you can’t have a deep bench of people, you’d better have a wealth of resources you can tap in to when you need them! That’s why blogging, and eventually social networking, have always appealed to me. I can’t know everything. I don’t have the time to research everything on my own. I can’t read every article about my field that is published. But I can be connected to people who become my deep bench. They are sharing information about ediscovery, technology, productivity, speaking tips, etc. and we’re all building our own knowledge and skills as we go along.
That sure beats not having anywhere to turn when you need some help from the bench!