April 11, 2013

From The Archives: What Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Can Teach Us About eDiscovery At The Masters

by Cary J. Calderone

This post originally appeared in April, 2011, but it is still true today.

It's Masters week. As every golf fan knows, it is the first major tournament of the year and for even the casual golfer, a reason to watch some golf on television and daydream about hitting the links soon. As I watched Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus hit the ceremonial "first tee shots" to start the tournament I recognized a golden opportunity to push for you and your organization to improve your company, and specifically, your eDiscovery response capabilities. The inspiration came to me when I realized that the pre-shot routines of these two golf legends were the same as when I watched them as a young child about forty years ago. Can thinking about this really help you promote better DRED in your organization? Absolutely! And here is why. 

Every accomplished golfer has a pre-shot routine, a certain way of getting ready and focused to hit a shot. It can involve a thought process, breathing routine, and even physical motions like, hitching up their pants, touching their glove, or taking the same number of practice swings while visualizing the shot they want to hit. This goes on before they step in and take their stance to hit their shot. Every shot! And while every golfer's pre-shot routine, just like their swing, is unique, they all have one. It is universal. They even practice their pre-shot routine so when the pressure is on, like at the Master's Tournament, they can rely on their pre-shot routine to get them focused to perform, even for a ceremonial tee shot in front of millions of viewers. 

This is a fantastic way to think about your eDiscovery policies and procedures. Too many companies fail to prepare to hit the shot. Do you have a litigation response team ready? Do you have eDiscovery policies and procedures in place? When they pressure is on, can you flip the switch and feel confident that your team knows what to do and how to do it? My favorite part of my legal and consulting business is working with smart people who are being proactive and getting ready for that potential but inevitable legal crisis. But this has also been the source of much aggravation because as Peter Keane, one of my old Law Professors reminded me, "Cary, people are not pro-active." True. But learning about your electronically stored information and email systems and your eDiscovery responsibilities on the fly is not the best approach. It will be stressful, difficult and possibly very expensive to "deal with it" when the lawsuit has already been served. Does this describe you and your company? Are you prepared? When it comes to eDiscovery and litigation preparedness, look to Mr. Palmer and Mr. Nicklaus or, any of the other amazing golfers you notice on television, and get yourself a pre-shot routine too.

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