You Can Take It With You: Bringing An E-Discovery Case To Your New Firm

by Ellis & Winters LLP

Congratulations: you have a new job with a new firm and your client with the “e-Discovery case” wants to come with you, the only “e-Discovery” expert lawyer that it trusts to represent it.  But it may not be as simple as throwing the case in your pack and walking it down the road once conflicts have cleared.  A new law firm may involve a new culture, and a new philosophy towards that body of law and ever-changing legal practice called “e-Discovery.”  This article aims to ease that process of bringing an “e-Discovery” case to a new law firm by issue-spotting some possible pitfalls in advance. 

If you can, look before you leap shops.  First, your new law firm may have preferred vendors that would represent a change from those you and your client have been working with, or the new firm may even have its own in-house capabilities for document collection, review, and production.  Either way this presents an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate your pre-existing vendor relationships, depending on your client’s tolerance for this amount of change at one time.  Hopefully your new situation is not one where the law firm demands that you use certain vendors, which could cause serious friction with your client, not to mention disruption in running your litigation.  So before you walk in the door, while vetting your new law firm opportunities, you should ask about flexibility in meeting client needs through vendor choice, especially where you are bringing clients with you.   

Second, your new law firm may have a different attitude towards “e-Discovery.”  Hopefully in the interview process you eliminated opportunities where your expertise as an e-discovery guru was not going to be valued or respected.  There are definitely places where such folks are considered second-class citizens, as compared to attorneys who may be viewed as more intellectual or academic, or as compared to attorneys who do not so visibly appear to be advancing firm resources each month through outlays to vendors and contractors.  If your new firm does have its own in-house capabilities, that is one potential positive sign that your skills will be taken seriously and appreciated, but you also need to beware if the “e-Discovery” attorneys, paralegals, and litigation support are kept in too much of silo that they are not integrated into the fold.  Especially if you are bringing clients with you, who are coming to the new firm because you have shown you know what you’re doing in e-Discovery, you should expect to be treated not just as a specialist but also as one of the gang.

Third, your new law firm may have a different approach to certain projects such as staffing document reviews, whether with on-staff attorneys, a special stable of oft-used contract attorneys, or reviewers hired through an outside vendor.  For example, your new law firm may have a set of document reviewers that they trust implicitly, but whose resumes you have never analyzed the way that you would have had you been hiring the reviewers off the street.  This is a tricky balancing act: while the level of faith should be there that your new firm employs skilled and careful reviewers, it is also up to you to nip any problems in the bud early to safeguard your client from poor work product.  This is an issue not so easily dealt with before you switch shops, and will probably involve figuring it out once you arrive and take stock of the situation. 

For instance, one can imagine some rather dicey political issues to navigate here in delicately removing a reviewer from a project that your new law firm might love for historical or personal reasons, for example, but whose work ethic or quality of which you do not have such a high appraisal.  Ultimately, your role is to try to protect your client from negative outcomes.  One would hope that your new law firm would be receptive to your evaluation of their contractors or employees, but realistically the smarter strategy in dealing with someone your new law firm knows better than they know you, and perhaps has more loyalty towards, is to attempt to prevent problems before they start.  As much as possible, find out what the water-cooler back-story is about the reviewers, meet with them in-person and set firm expectations in advance, check in regularly, and then monitor them with the same care you would any reviewer.

This same advice applies in the paralegal situation, although it requires even a more skillful touch.  The better reaction to encountering a paralegal, for instance, who is maybe not thoroughly trained in e-Discovery, is to constructively educate him or her, not to go around making enemies at your new firm through behind-the-back complaints and criticisms (or yelling matches in the hallway for that matter).  A blank slate, or even a messy slate, can present a great opportunity to be a teacher, if attitudes are open on all sides. 

Of course, as a new attorney on the scene you might meet with resistance, and some creativity may be required.  You may find that the paralegal or assistant assigned to “e-Discovery” is not the individual who secretly would be very interested in learning it.  Sometimes being the new kid on the block allows you to have that outsider perspective and tap into new talent.  One simple way to do this is to host a lunch on “e-Discovery” and see who shows up, in particular if it’s a brown-bag (although you should provide cookies).  You might be the first person who ever asked: who wants to do e-Discovery?

All in all, this should be a happy situation: the new firm wants you, the client wants you, and you are doing the e-Discovery work you excel at performing.  Forewarned about the possible tensions outlined above you will be forearmed to tackle them head-on.  

*This article originally appeared on

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ellis & Winters LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ellis & Winters LLP

Ellis & Winters LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.