One of the odder suggestions which I heard at CEIC 2010 in Las Vegas was that “early case assessment” was yesterday’s idea and that it was time to move on to the next one. On reflection, I decided that the speaker was talking marketing rather than common sense. He did not mean that we should stop making early assessments of cases, nor that we should consign to history the many excellent applications which have been given that label. He was just looking for a new catchy phrase.
Part of the problem, I think, is that its appropriation as a marketing label has buried the fact that early case assessment is a process not a tool. Those big shiny capital letters do not help, and I prefer to talk of “early assessment of a case” – less snappy, perhaps, but a better description of what we are trying to do here. The software applications (and there are, as I say, some very good ones) are an adjunct, and a necessary one, to an approach to the case which depends first on the sophisticated technology which lies between your ears.
The subject comes up because, within days of my being told that ECA was dead, George Socha and Tom Gelbmann have written an article for Law Technology News called Don’t Box ECA which sets out the components of a prudent assessment of a case to be made before e-disclosure / ediscovery begins. It is, if you like, an industry-specific variant on the old expression “time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted”.
Time spent summarising the article, on the other hand, would be time wasted, and I simply point you to it. My thanks to Rob Robinson of Applied Discovery who, as usual, had tweeted a pointer to it before the metaphorical ink was dry.