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Staying on Pointe: Key Lessons eDiscovery Professionals can Learn from Ballet


Co-authored by Casey Van Veen and Renée Quezada

eDiscovery success depends upon a delicate balance between the ediscovery provider, the corporate client, and the law firm. A good ballet performance has a similar and delicate balance as well. Rehearsing, having a strong team with a deep bench of expertise, and a natural flow are all key elements that make up a successful performance in both ediscovery and ballet. In this blog, we will uncover some of the key ways to ensure a great performance as well as how to avoid common performance inhibiting missteps. 

Staying on Pointe Key Lessons eDiscovery Professionals can Learn from Ballet

To set the stage, let us start with three simple steps for what needs to happen behind the scenes before the performance begins.

  1. Choreographing the show (conducting the kick off call) – It is important to set the stage and ensure you are covering all of your bases upfront. Specifically, make sure your ESI protocol is fleshed out, set up a meet and confer and be sure all parties abide to what is agreed upon, ensure everyone is dialed in on deadlines, as well as confirm everyone is aware of the knowns and unknowns.
  2. Conducting the casting call (assembling the troops) – Next, you want to be sure you have the right experts in the room. Do you need forensics, collections, or advisory specialists on hand for this particular project? If so, work with your vendor and counsel to secure the right people. Another helpful tip prior to a project kick off is to find the person who has been at the company longest and ask about the project’s previous details. These folks are typically a goldmine of information around what may or may not be missing, what was done in the past, as well as other key project details.
  3. Executing the dress rehearsal (setting expectations) – Just as ballet dancers have to follow their steps to a T to ensure a flawless performance, in ediscovery you have to follow the protocols and procedures in place to ensure a successful project completion. Are there local rules that should be adhered to? Do you have a playbook in place? If so, be sure to review it with all key stakeholders. If not, discuss your vendor’s and outside counsel’s expectations of you as well as your expectations of them prior to beginning the project so everyone’s expectations are rightly set.

The next phase of a successful performance is the performance itself. Below are key steps to consider and put in place once you are ready to begin your project.

  1. Going on stage (putting the program in motion) – After you have your protocols, people, and program outline in place, it is time to put the program in motion. It is important to synchronize your message across all parties involved and ensure everyone knows their role (or place on stage).
  2. During the show (avoiding common mistakes) – Once the project begins it is easy to fall into some common mistakes such as bottlenecks, collections errors, conflict check issues, and unknowns for example. These can be avoided if you:
    1. Refrain from making any operating system (OS) updates to cell phones right before a forensics collection. Most of the common collection tools need time to adjust to the new OS.
    2. Confirm spelling of custodian names and aliases prior to logging data or running search terms to avoid inadvertently including or excluding key custodians.
    3. Discuss and implement imaging sweeps and redaction workflows to avoid bottlenecks during productions.
  3. Having an understudy (covering all bases) – To ensure continuity across your project, it is not only important that your vendor, counsel, and your team are in sync, but also that your project management team is always in the know on your matters and available any time, in multiple time zones in case someone if out sick or a natural disaster occurs. This setup allows for your project management team to serve as an extension of your team and instills more trust and support with an “all hands on deck” mentality.

Once the performance is complete, there are some key post-production steps to follow to ensure future success.

  1. Reviewing the slips and falls (analyzing missteps) – After every performance, whether it is a success or not, a post mortem meeting with all key stakeholders is a good idea. This is your opportunity to review what went well and what did not, as well as highlight areas to improve upon.
  2. Preparing for the next show (applying learnings from missteps and successes) – After the post mortem, be sure to apply any key lessons learned by updating your playbook and any policies and procedures.
  3. Delivering a repeat performance (developing a workflow to ensure future success) – Next, weave these key lessons learned and updated policies into your project workflow so that you are set up for success on all future projects.

We hope you find the above steps helpful when conducting your next ediscovery project. Take your ediscovery program to the next level by standardizing and socializing your ediscovery program. To discuss this more or if you have questions, feel free to reach out to us at


About the Author

Vice President, Sales | Casey has been working with numerous Fortune 500 companies and AM Law 500 firms since 1999. Casey's portfolio of companies includes technology, manufacturing, consumer goods, freight and logistics, healthcare, banking, gaming, and retail companies. The cumulative experience from these various industries provides him with the ability to develop out-of-the-box solutions to fit his client's complex needs. His primary role is to advise corporations and law firms about the best practices to reduce risk and costs as well as develop strong ediscovery processes. HSR Second Requests, OIG investigations, complex litigation, patent, ITC, theft of trade secret, and labor and employment matters are all subjects he is well versed in. Casey has been a certified RCSP with kCura/Relativity since 2012. He holds a B.S. from the University of Arizona in Business with an emphasis in Marketing.

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