Roundabout ways

By | 22nd September 2011

One of the most striking sights in Nashville, Tennessee is Alan LeQuire’s bronze statue of nine nude figures in the centre of the Music Row roundabout. Apparently the statue caused a certain amount of unease amongst the locals when it was unveiled in 2003 but it is certainly dramatic to view at night especially after making the acquaintance of too many Confederate Widows.

I should explain. Apart from a lot of walking the halls at ILTA in Nashville last month there was time for a couple of outings, one to Jimmy Kelly’s, a wonderful steak restaurant followed by drinks at what GQ magazine has described as the best bar in America, the Patterson House. While there I was persuaded to try a mixture of gin, lime, honey syrup and Pernod – a drink which goes by the extraordinary name of “Oldest Confederate Widow”.

The other outing involved a 90 minute drive south to Shelbyville to see the opening night of the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration with Carol Owen of Waller Lansden Dortch and Davies and her colleague Rebecca Howald.

I know you will be thinking that this is no way for your correspondent to spend valuable time while attending the ILTA conference! However, we were given such a warm welcome by the lawyers in Nashville that it truly beggars belief. This was just a sample of the delights which awaited us and that was before you start taking into account the 500 vendors present at ILTA and the accompanying throng of litigation support managers, lawyers and commentators gathered together at the Gaylord Opry Conference Hotel and Resort.

What has this to do with e-disclosure? Apart from wanting to draw your collective attention to the sculptured wonders of Tennessee, this is my “roundabout” way of introducing a comment on the Smart approach to e-disclosure/discovery.

Management gurus often talk about objectives being smart. At Millnet we have promoted the idea of Smart e-Discovery and Smart Insourcing for some time but a conversation the other day with a senior lawyer made me realise that not everyone understands what the acronym “smart” actually stands for.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-related

In other words for any objective to be “SMART” it needs to be understood to be sufficiently specific so that you know what is required to deliver the objective. It is no good being wishy-washy. It needs to be measurable because otherwise you will not know easily when it has been achieved. It must be capable of being achieved which I understand to mean there is little point in having as your objective something which is in reality a “nice-to-have” or a wish list. It must be realistic for the same reasons and there must be a finite timescale in which the objective is to be attained.

We can and must tear our eyes away from nude statues but we ignore SMART objectives at our peril.

If I may so suggest, this is really what all the recent initiatives from Access to Justice, the new CPR, the EDQ, the new PD 31B and the Jackson report are all about. Being smarter in the delivery of legal services is not only a benefit to the client, the ultimate paymaster, but is also a benefit to society in that it delivers a reasonable solution to litigation and other disputes in a smart, cost effective and timely manner.

Can’t say smarter than that!