The associate is directed to turn the spreadsheet into, among other things, a simple index of arbitration exhibits. Based on the "Include in Arbitration Binder" column in the original spreadsheet, the index might look like Figure 2.
Similarly, the associate is tasked with using the provided spreadsheet to generate discrete lists of exhibits associated with specific witnesses on specific topics (again, based on the information provided in the columns "Witnesses" and "Issues"). For example, see Figure 3.
On a superficial level, such tasks are commonly assigned to junior associates, and it is therefore appropriate to observe how they handle them. More importantly, completing these tasks efficiently requires a certain level of proficiency in Microsoft Excel. That is, instead of going line by line as most participants do the economical approach is to utilize some of Excel's rudimentary data functions, like sort and filter.
The difference between a brute-force approach, i.e., going line-by-line and an automated approach, e.g., using filters, is significant. For the seemingly simple tasks just described, the brute-force approach requires more than an hour. The automated approach takes only a few minutes. A trained associate can complete Assignment #1 in less than 20 minutes. By contrast, Assignment #1 takes the untrained associate more than 5 hours.
While the particulars of Assignment #1 may not be a daily occurrence, the skills tested are generally applicable. Staying with the examples above, much of the data that Kia provides to outside counsel in the course of representation is transmitted as Excel spreadsheets. The data is essential but will often prove useless unless the recipients can organize and analyze it using the same basic Excel functions tested in the audit.
Assignment #1 also tests PDF skills using mock exhibits. Assignment #2 preparing an opposition to a motion for summary judgment further examines the associate's ability to manipulate PDFs in the context of assembling a federal e-filing. Likewise, in preparing the memorandum for Assignment #2, the associate is tested on a number of basic skills in Word.
As mentioned above, beyond the associates' training, the assignments are designed to reveal whether the firm has implemented procedures and processes that increase cost-effectiveness. In Assignment #3, for example, the associate prepares written discovery responses. The associate is not actually expected to draft the responses. Rather, the object of the inquiry is whether the firm has setup a logical, deliberate process for the associate to do so.
At the most basic level, the associate should turn the discovery demands over to a word processing department to create the response document. Most associates do just that and get back a Word document that provides a blank after each request. Typically, an associate will then open up the last discovery responses they drafted to copy and paste the standard boilerplate i.e., general objections and common specific objections (e.g., burdensome, vague).