Technology and the practice of law are intertwined now. There is no going back. Attorneys are consistently being put in the position of having to explain to their clients the steps that need to take place (and the associated costs) with regard to the electronic documents before we can produce documents in the matter.
The partners need to explain to the client why we need a dozen attorneys to review the documents. They need to explain why the client will receive significant invoices from the vendor. To a certain degree, attorneys need to understand our world of litigation support.
You will find that some attorneys are eager to learn our world. However, there are other attorneys that lack the patience and prefer to let us be their voice on the technical topics. I believe that it is in the attorney's best interest to learn enough about the technical aspects in order to make informed decisions or to help their client make informed decisions.
At times, there are instances where we litigation support professionals will need to go to a partner's office and explain a situation, present the available options and then make a recommendation on a course of action. In order for the partner to understand the full extent of the situation, you will need to speak in non-technical terms or you will need to take the time to define any technical terms they don't already know. I tend to use analogies that I think the partner will understand. Another technique I use is to let the partner explain to me what they took away from my explanation and then I will tweak it or fill in any gaps or excitedly say “You got it!”
I have found that even if the partner doesn't spend any time focusing on the latest electronic discovery trends, I can usually break down the information into chunks they can easily consume or I can provide definitions for the technical terms or electronic discovery terms in a way that the partner will understand. I have partners tell me all the time that they don't understand the techie stuff, but after our conversation, I tell them “See? You do understand.”
A litigation support professional should never assume that a partner or senior associate is unable to understand the technical lingo. Most of these attorneys are very smart and should be treated with respect. You should be patient and do whatever it takes to share your knowledge. Draw diagrams if that helps — I've done that. The time that you invest in helping the attorneys understand the technical lingo will improve future discussions with future matters with that same attorney. I've had attorneys brag to me, after the fact, that they were able to rattle off the terminology to a colleague as if they had known it for years.
I believe that my role is to assist the attorneys in understanding the situation enough so that they can get on the phone with the client and explain it in their own words. Of course, there are definitely a good number of attorneys that have become very knowledgeable about electronic discovery and the technical aspects of the process and for those, the conversations about options and decisions that need to made will flow more easily and more quickly.