THE AUDIT: NUTS AND BOLTS
The mechanics of the audit are simple. There are 4 mock assignments. The sacrificial lamb an associate selected by the firm is charged with preparing:
1. Exhibit binders for arbitration.
2. An opposition to a motion for summary judgment.
3. Written discovery responses.
4. A settlement agreement.
Each of the assignments is broken down into a series of tasks. For example, in preparing the exhibit binders for arbitration, the associate is given an Excel spreadsheet of deposition exhibits. See Figure 1.
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.