November 27, 2008
Despite having apparently been misunderstood when speaking about the subject, I remain enthusiastic to encourage more people, and especially women, into electronic disclosure. Recession may be a good time to gain experience in a new and growing area.
You know that sinking feeling. Between you and where you want to go is a small group of people. There is something threatening about them which makes you imagine the baseball bat or knuckle-duster. One of the few tangible signs of New Labour’s commitment to equalities is that these days they are as likely to be girls as boys.
I thought of this as I tried to get to the table where the milk jug stood after speaking at last week’s West LegalWorks e-disclosure conference. Two women stood in my way. Why, one of them asked, had I implied that women were no good at technology? I did nothing of the sort, I said, cowering and raising my arm to ward off the expected blows. My aim was the opposite. I had been hoping to encourage more women into a business which very much needs new blood, and which could do with more women on the supplier and technical side, not least because a high proportion of the lawyers engaged in disclosure were women. The last thing I remember, as I sank to the carpet, was vowing never to raise that subject off the cuff again. Read the rest of this entry »
November 21, 2008
A career devoted to court rules and electronic documents is not an instant turn-on for dinner party conversation. The subjects are, however, important ones for businesses beyond those which actually work in litigation, and the rate of change is increasing
What exactly is it that you do? Like all of us, I get asked this question from time to time by people who are outside the world of law and technology. It is much easier for those of you who read this. If, whatever your gender, you say you are a litigation solicitor, then doubtless people gaze on you with that same awestruck admiration which was formerly reserved for chaps on leave from the trenches. If you are a supplier and say that you work at the cutting edge of information technology then you are up there with rocket scientists – they do not understand, but they know it matters. Barristers are assumed to have mighty brains and Ciceronian eloquence. If you are a judge, then you are met with equal deference whether you are a part-time Deputy Recorder or sit in the Court of Appeal.
When they ask me, my answer usually elicits a perfectly understandable look of blank incomprehension. “I speak and write about the disclosure of electronic documents for litigation” I say. “Will you excuse me?” they reply. “I’ve got to go and see a man about a dog” or some such transparent excuse to get away. Read the rest of this entry »
November 17, 2008
Most of my speaking engagements are of the nuts-and-bolts, cradle-to-grave variety where I speak for a couple of hours about the issues raised by electronic documents and about how proper use of the Civil Procedure Rules, coupled with an understanding of the available technology solutions, should give parties and the courts the means to arrive at answers which are proportionate to the case.
People can read the rules for themselves once pointed in the right direction. The technology, and the problems which it addresses, need a more visual approach, and I am increasingly getting the opportunity to use snippets of visual displays from specific products to illustrate generic points. The aim is not to try and display the whole range of solutions from the left hand side of the EDRM diagram to the right, but to use a picture to say a thousand words about a sub-set of it, to shine a torch into a previously dark corner in the hope that it illuminates the wider picture.
As a change from these points of detail, I am sometimes asked to speak about the broader context, to give a kind of “state of the nation” talk which pulls together some of the threads. One such opportunity arose last week when Autonomy invited me to be the guest speaker at a lunch at the Ritz. Read the rest of this entry »
November 17, 2008
LexisNexis and LDM Global were hosts at a party on 6 November at the Andaz Hotel at Liverpool Street. The occasion was a link-up between them which brings together LDM’s role as a provider of a wide range of legal technology services and LexisNexis’ Hosted FYI.
The Andaz Hotel proved to be the former Great Eastern Hotel, which I remembered as a place of decaying plasterwork and dark corridors, selling curled sandwiches from under plastic domes or board-like plaice and soggy chips. It is now a cool destination, with dark walls hung with eye-catching pictures, glass tables and some extremely decent food and drink. My recollection of it, I realised, dates back to 1962, so a few changes might have been expected.
There are no marks for originality when describing a supplier’s products, and unless their own descriptions are top-heavy with hyperbole (in which case I remove it) it is easiest simply to pass on what they say about themselves. LexisNexis’ own description of Hosted FYI is as straight up-and-down as you can want – it delivers comprehensive data management know-how, online review and disaster recovery for law firms, corporations and government agencies. Hosted FYI is a secure, centralised, multi-user web review solution for processing, storing, retrieving, analysing, reviewing, redacting and sharing disclosure documents and Concordance databases quickly and easily. Read the rest of this entry »
November 12, 2008
This was the title of a seminar presented by the Society of Computers & Law on 20 October when our hosts were Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. The Chairman was barrister Clive Freedman and the speakers were Janet Lambert, a partner in Barlows’ Reinsurance and International Risk Team, Christine Gabitass, Technology in Practice Analyst at Latham & Watkins, and me. Read the rest of this entry »
November 10, 2008
Equivio has reached the enviable position of being synonymous with de-duplication and data redundancy. It is not that no-one else does it, but Equivio specialises in it and has moved outwards from that specialist niche into the business functions which need it, whilst extending its reach into near-duplicates and e-mail thread technology.
I met CEO Amir Milo at the Masters Conference in Washington, and enjoyed my discussion with him. He implied that there was news in the pipeline, and a press release has duly turned up today. The item of most interest to me is that Epiq Systems have integrated Equivio e-mail threading into DocuMatrix. The Epiq web site has more details including the explanation that this enhancement (which is not the only one in Epiq’s latest upgrade) shows emails in the context of a conversation and highlights the “inclusive”, the last e-mail in a series which contains the complete text of previous messages in the thread. Read the rest of this entry »
November 10, 2008
The Government’s commitment to access to justice is so important that it even warrants capital letters – it is Access to Justice, no less, which, as I noted in another post recently, must mean that it is an “initiative” (or possibly even an Initiative).
New Labour Initiatives come in two flavours – those whose life-span is the time it takes to publish the press release, and those on which vast sums are lavished before they are quietly ditched a few months later. We can expect to see few of the latter in these hard times but plenty of the former – look at the Department of Health web site, for example, whose Recent Stories page begins with the proud assertion that “A week rarely passes by without the Department making a major announcement”. Can we have some health care as well? we might ask. Read the rest of this entry »
November 10, 2008
Companies in dark over litigation costs is the title of an article on the Financial Times web site today (login required). It tells of an Ipsos Mori survey commissioned by Addleshaw Goddard.
The survey’s subject-matter was more specific than the title implies. The state of unawareness refers not to the costs themselves but to the litigation funding tools available to help, such as after the event insurance.
76% identified costs as their top concern (what bothered the rest, one wonders?) but only 10% seemed to know about the possibility of third party funding and only 2% had actually used it. Read the rest of this entry »
November 10, 2008
Lord Justice Jackson’s review of litigation costs will presumably cover a wide range of subjects from rules and procedures, to the actual practice in the courts, to the better use of technology, to training matters and beyond.
One of the most important and complex areas will be the various ways by which litigation is funded – contingency fees, costs-capping, and costs-shifting all have policy implications beyond the specifics of the actual arrangements made with parties. An interesting development is after-the-event insurance which is attracting interest and which raises issues of its own.
An article on the Lawyer web site this morning Jackson LJ drafted in to investigate litigation costs 10 years after Woolf mainly concerns this aspect, reporting that Lord Justice Jackson has already been to see Bob Musgrove, Chief Executive of the Civil Justice Council. The CJC has a strong focus on the subject, with a report on the contingency fees model due out shortly.
The Lawyer article includes a summary of other reviews and studies on the broad topic of litigation fees and costs.
My thanks to Jonathan Maas of DLA Piper UK LLP for drawing my attention to this article within two hours of its publication. It is extremely helpful to be tipped off about wider sources.
November 9, 2008
A collections expert, a data archive specialist, a commercial barrister and a judge took a Birmingham audience – the second audience there in three weeks – through the stages of data handling, from organising it on the clients’ server, through its collection, and on to its use in court. I was the warm-up act
Freshly returned (well, reasonably fresh, anyway) from electronic discovery conferences in Australia and the US, I was back in Birmingham on 23 October for an e-disclosure seminar organised by Birmingham Law Society. One of the speakers in Sydney, Geoffrey Lambert of KordaMentha, had referred in his session to the “Birmingham initiative” which suggests that we are making some impression. This was the second well-attended seminar in the city in three weeks, following the one at St Philips Chambers at the beginning of October. Read the rest of this entry »
November 7, 2008
The Terms of Reference for Lord Justice Jackson’s review of costs have now been published. The stated objective – “To carry out an independent review of the rules and principles governing the costs of civil litigation and to make recommendations in order to promote access to justice at proportionate cost” is as wide as one could hope for.
See my article on the review Lord Justice Jackson to head litigation costs review.
November 7, 2008
I wrote about this case on the basis of a short summary of the judgment – see Case law at last on scope of reasonable search. In summary, I described it as important not because it made any new law or clarified any rule, but because it showed judicial involvement in applying a perfectly clear set of rules to the practical problems of assessing proportionality.
The full judgment is now on BAILLII. I am grateful to Peg Duncan, a member of the Steering Committee and the Editorial Board of Sedona Conference Working Group 7 (Sedona Canada), for spotting it before I did and drawing it to my attention. We are, I think, seeing a new phase of international co-operation on this subject as we all face the same concerns about the costs of electronic discovery / disclosure. Canada has been one of the more forward sources of thinking on the subject.
The terms of reference of Lord Justice Jackson’s review of civil costs specifically include comparing the costs regime in England & Wales with those of other jurisdictions. Canada is likely to be one of them.
A glance at the Digicel judgment shows that it covers more aspects than the brief summary which I used for my first report. More will follow on this.
November 6, 2008
The use of keywords to cut through large volumes of data is a vital skill. A webcast next week focuses on how time and costs can be saved by the effective use of keywords.
If I had a couple of hours to spare to write it, and thought that you had time to read it, I could do an essay on the value of an informed and intelligent use of keywords as a tool to find the documents which matter and (just as importantly) to cull those which do not. I could refer to the express mandate for their use in the UK Civil Procedure Rules (Practice Direction to Rule 31 CPR, Paragraph 2A.5) which may surprise many UK lawyers (as indeed does the very existence of the Practice Direction in some cases). I might refer to Lord Justice Jackson’s forthcoming inquiry into litigation costs and to the need to acquire skills to reduce them. I could recite the recent US cases in which keywords were critical. I could cover some of the arguments which are deployed for and against keywords as a means of targeting data.
I have a train to catch, so I will leave all that for another day. Fortunately, there is an opportunity next week to hear about some at least of these subjects from an expert. Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2008
Products and suppliers have taken a back seat in this blog whilst wider issues and travelling have taken most of my time. Anacomp’s CaseLogistix has been busy, with a new paper on the discovery of audio files. It has a new blog as well
The e-Disclosure Information Project began with a narrow focus both as to subject-matter and as to geography – a handful of UK Civil Procedure Rules and their application in courts in Birmingham and London. It quickly became clear that lack of information about the problems raised by electronic documents, and the solutions available to solve them, was as big a problem as the rules and procedure, which led me to a mission to draw attention to them. That quickly acquired an international dimension, because both problems and solutions are the same everywhere and it made sense to tap into the thinking in other jurisdictions. More recently, recession has brought a darker – and more urgent – tone to what I write and talk about. Within the last few days, we have had the first reported case on the management of electronic disclosure and the announcement of a government-inspired (but judge-led) inquiry into the costs of litigation with its parallel implications for both access to justice and hard economics. Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2008
Guidance Software has produced the first edition of a new quarterly magazine called Real eDiscovery. The costs and risks of compliance with the demands of litigation discovery and regulatory investigations were going up the corporate agenda even before the recession struck, and Guidance is well-placed to help large organisations take some of that cost in house as they – government departments, corporates and law enforcement agencies alike – struggle make or repel the claims and investigations which recession brings.
EnCase eDiscovery is a platform used within organisations to collect data across the network in a systematised, repeatable way. If, as seems almost certain, demands for evidence increase several-fold over the coming months, the argument for taking this process in house increases correspondingly – put simply, the investment in the software and the skills will be recovered more quickly if there are more demands for data to be collected. Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2008
I was interviewed last week by one of the big computer magazines about the ever more ubiquitous Sharepoint – Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) to give it its full name. The context, unsurprisingly given my own area of practice, was the implications for SharePoint users of the need to produce documents and data from SharePoint to meet the demands of litigation or of regulators.
It is some time since I used SharePoint. My experience, however, is enough to tell me that it is superb at ingesting and distributing information, and substantially less so for finding it and getting it out again.
I do not mean, of course that you cannot find material in SharePoint – that is very much part of its function. Its indexing and retrieval tools, however, are geared to its primary function of production, sharing and distribution of information about set topics, often across multiple servers and jurisdictions. The very ease with which data can be distributed widely militates against the strict control which is expected – or which ought to be expected – of a document retention policy and all the other ideals of information governance within organisations. Read the rest of this entry »