Senior Director Elizabeth Noble is an unsung hero. As a case manager for some of our largest and most complex e-discovery matters, she is a strategic driver for the backend work that ensures a case goes smoothly. We sat down with her for a discussion about her role, and the importance of case management in saving time and money in e-discovery.
Elizabeth, tell us a bit more about what a case manager does, and how a case manager can add value to the client.
In a nutshell, a case manager is a strategic advisor on a matter, overseeing the teams, workflows and processes from start to finish - collection to processing to review to production. The job includes assessing all the needs of the matter, prioritizing those needs based on deadlines, developing timelines and allocating work across the team. These days, many cases are highly complex, with dozens of custodians to track across numerous regions, different evidence types and large data volumes. I work closely with counsel from the outset of a case to provide a plan of attack that takes these factors into account and manages resources to ensure cost effective outcomes. I make a priority of keeping things on time, keeping clients happy and eliminating client worries over whether certain items have been collected or if discovery is moving forward in a timely way.
Client service is one major area where FTI really stands out from the competition. How do case managers uphold a high standard for excellence in client service?
Yes, we are known for our outstanding client service, and case management is just one of many areas where our firm really shines. Most importantly, I look to build a trusted partnership with clients, so they see me as a reliable and valued advisor. By working collaboratively with clients, I am able to gain an understanding of their comprehensive needs, and then provide them with guidance on strategy and workflows that will meet those needs in the most streamlined way. Thinking critically about the end goal and ensuring we are getting them there cost effectively is key.
Another way we provide excellent service is in our ability to manage all aspects of a case. Our team has the expertise to create data plans, automate processes and track every activity during a case, so that we can provide clients with updates and insights at the drop of a hat.
What are the skill and knowledge sets case managers need to have to do their job effectively?
It’s important to have deep knowledge of different solutions that may be needed to optimize a case’s specific needs. FTI is platform agnostic, so we can manage cases on any e-discovery tool our clients prefer, whether it’s Ringtail, Relativity or another solution. Our ability to adapt to any solution allows clients to work within their comfort zone, and also provides clients with insight on which tools are the best fit for a case’s specific needs. Strong decision making, problem solving, project management, organizational and communications skills are also all necessary for a case manager to truly add value and lead a large, complex matter.
Beyond building the case plan and advising the client, what are some other areas where a case manager steps in to improve the results of a matter?
Each case is different, so depth of experience is important to be ready for any challenge that may arise in a case. We have a lot of experience in running second request matters, and therefore are able to assist counsel on negotiations with regulatory agencies and make suggestions. We do a lot of consulting on requests by the agency that could drive up costs, or approaches on inquiries that are being made in second requests and other investigations. This really helps our clients uncover ways to save time and costs.
Automating processes is another best practice of ours to ensure clients are not paying for duplicative work. We’re also seeing more and more clients with sensitivities around data privacy and security. This may mean a client requires on-site review and specialized workflows, or needs to conduct portions of collection and review independently. We can partner with clients in these situations to provide guidance while allowing them to remain in control of sensitive circumstances.
Ultimately, my goal is to establish and maintain trust with clients. When counsel views me and our other case managers as trusted advisors, we can truly make a difference in helping them achieve successful outcomes, no matter how difficult a case may be.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.