Early Case Assessment

Ten Things: Early Case Assessments – What In-House Lawyers Need to Know

Somewhere in my first few months or so of blogs is one I wrote about what to do when your company has been sued.  In it, I set out a lot of important things to do when you first get served with a complaint.  There’s a lot of useful information in there, but I left out an important part of what to do in those early days of litigation.  It was deliberate because I knew then that the topic deserved its own “Ten Things” post.  So, I did what I usually do when I have an idea – I jotted it down on a Post-It note and set it aside, with every intention of coming back to it in a few months.  Three years later I found that Post-It jammed in a folder with a lot of other blog ideas, staring at me like an abandoned puppy wanting to be taken home.  Damn you sad-eyed Post-It note.  Get in the car.

And here I am on a Sunday afternoon staring at that Post-It note again, finally willing to give it it’s due.  What does it say?  It says, “Early Case Assessment” (and “Call Mom”).[1]   I am a little saddened to see that in many eyes, Early Case Assessment has become an exercise in e-Discovery.  There’s nothing wrong with that other than I think it makes the scope of an ECA much too narrow.  Some e-Discovery review should be part of the assessment but it is not the focus.  I think of ECA a bit more “old school” in scope and something that’s going to take a lot of elbow grease, detective work, and creative thinking – just what lawyers do best.  This edition of “Ten Things” discusses what you need to do to put together a top-notch Early Case Assessment: