Features

Emily Dimond – PNC

She’s finding plenty of drama in eDiscovery

Be it from the role of plaintiff or defendant, litigation is an inevitable part of PNC operating as a bank-holding and financial services corporation active in most states and internationally. Even when there’s nothing contentious between it and other entities, PNC must be ready to provide regulators with evidence of everything being done according to the rules.

Time was when PNC and a legal adversary would exchange information through paper documentation. The same held true for PNC’s dealings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory bodies.

However, most documentation is electronic, which can simplify and complicate litigatory discovery or regulatory compliance by being more readily retrievable but with increased risk. Just managing this process and the associated risks can be a full-time responsibility, and it’s one that Emily Dimond has undertaken—with some irony, perhaps—since September 2019 as PNC’s eDiscovery managing senior counsel.

Emily Dimond | eDiscovery Managing Senior Counsel | PNC

Emily Dimond | eDiscovery Managing Senior Counsel | PNC

“And I was about as non-technical as you can get,” the personable Dimond tells Vanguard this past summer from Pittsburgh headquarters. “But the legal profession needs to understand the technology their clients use and how to appropriately preserve, collect, and review data. Having been thrown into this role early, I’ve learned a lot.”

She’s learned it well enough to become the translator between the legal and infotech departments and to sell the C-suites on the need for a more comprehensive eDiscovery department. She now fronts a staff of four whose responsibilities are closely monitored in an industry that’s grown increasingly wired.

“Never a dull moment here,” Dimond says. “It’s been an action-packed four years.”

First-rate secondment

Dimond, having served PNC as a secondee toward the end of her 2013 to 2019 tenure at Reed Smith’s Pittsburgh office, was the obvious choice when the company needed someone, ideally a business-minded lawyer, to manage its eDiscovery. By then, she had learned enough about PNC’s infotech to add formality to the eDiscovery program, which previously had been handled by only one person.

Upgraded technology would aid the cause, with PNC introducing and expanding Microsoft 365, Microsoft’s collaborative and cloud-based software that contains internal eDiscovery tools. How critical this would be during the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic when so many operations had to be handled virtually.

“By the time we were sent home, we had enough of the new processes in motion to keep us going,” she says. “Though there was a lot we couldn’t have anticipated, we got the communication tools and connectivity in place, which helped us with the Paycheck Protection Program and other initiatives. We had a huge, successful effort in a short time.”

Emily Dimond | eDiscovery Managing Senior Counsel | PNC

While the worst of COVID-19 is hopefully over, the need for eDiscovery only increases, Dimond says, as there’s no going back to the old business model, and there is a slew of new variables for which PNC must be prepared. The very definition of a document has been expanded alongside advancements in technology, which impacts what companies must consider when producing information to an opposing party or a regulator.

Companies must also consider aspects of technologies created or used for other purposes – even accessibility purposes – that may present legal or other risks.  Technological platforms constantly evolve, and each change affects stakeholders Dimond relies upon for integration or legal interpretation.

PNC’s Digital Workplace governance group meets regularly to try to stay abreast of the rising curve.  For example, much as artificial intelligence might streamline some operations, Dimond says it could muddy others by capturing data and forming a document that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

“Nobody can do anything in a vacuum anymore,” remarks Dimond, who never could have predicted that her career would take her into such dramatic territory. As a younger woman, she was drawn to another type of drama.

That’s show biz

The law came late for Dimond, a 1998 Duquesne University English major who earned a Master of Arts in educational theater at New York University and worked for a Broadway producer during the 2000s. While the arts had been her passion since girlhood, as a young adult, she saw other facets of show biz, including contracting, copyrights, licensing, union negotiations, etc. Intrigued by the legal side of the entertainment world, the 30-something Dimond moved back to Pittsburgh to follow in the footsteps of her attorney father, the late C. Arthur Dimond, and enrolled in law school.

Upon graduating from the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University in 2012, Dimond’s theatrical aspirations had been put on the back burner. After law school, she commenced her nearly seven-year stretch at Reed Smith and says she likes how her career has progressed.

There’s much opportunity in eDiscovery, even for nonlawyers, as long as one is comfortable with technology or at least is willing to learn. All the better, Dimond says, if more women get involved, and she’s taken a role here with a nationwide nonprofit trying to level the gender playing field. She serves as assistant director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the nonprofit Women in eDiscovery.

Emily Dimond | eDiscovery Managing Senior Counsel | PNC

She sees similarities between the legal and technological professions, the gender split being fairly even at the start, but men are more likely to ascend the higher ranks. She also sounds the call for minority lawyers and technologists to get involved and serves on the diversity-equity-inclusion committee of a PNC service provider and partner, the software specialist Lighthouse.

But Dimond’s commitment to eDiscovery hasn’t erased her passion for the arts. She credits her experiences there with helping prepare her for this very specialized area of law. It takes confidence and self-reliance to get on stage and subject oneself to criticism. It takes teamwork to be part of a production and, of course, a mix of legal and business savvy to mind the details. The same goes for her role at PNC.

“Much of what I learned working on Broadway was about producing,” she says. “Getting the right people involved in the right projects and creating an environment where they can thrive and create the best product. The same applies here.”

Only here, it’s much more than just acting; the less drama, the better. While she heard applause in her former life, Dimond found extra satisfying what she overheard while going about her business at PNC.

“One of my colleagues said, ‘If you really want to get stuff done, get yourself an eDiscovery attorney,’” she recalls.

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall III 2023 Edition here.

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