February 28, 2009
I occasionally like, at the end of the week, to write about things which are not directly related to e-discovery or are, at least, aimed at the lighter side. Charles Christian has saved me the trouble this week with an article which reproduces a photograph of mine taken at Legal Inc’s panel at LegalTech, which he moderated. Jolly sporting of him in the circumstances, I would say.
He also links to a page of photographs which I took at the same session in which I supplement my report on what was actually covered with what might have been said instead.
The captions will not necessarily be meaningful to all. You need to read my report on the session to understand why the whole panel might decide simultaneously to look the other way. The picture of a man apparently telling an after-dinner joke about a solicitor being unable to find documents on a CD means a little more if you know both that Hedrich v Standard Bank London involved exactly that level of technical competence and that Sanjay Bhandari of Ernst & Young’s Forensic e-Disclosure team Services considered a career as a stand-up comedian before opting for the law. The two gentlemen dominating the doorway are Brian Stuart and Tyrone Edward of E&Y.
This kind of hyperlink tennis – me pointing you to an article by Charles which refers to an article by me about him – does not mean I have run out of things to say. I just like a break every now and then, as no doubt you do.
I was in fact going to write a piece called I never see the sodding kerb till its way too late – about Bat out of Hell, MeatLoaf’s elegiac commentary on the fate of the lawyers in the Fannie Mae Litigation and Hedrich, with a side-note on Mondegreens – but that can wait.
February 24, 2009
Panel sessions at LegalTech and other conferences combine the best of all worlds so far as I am concerned. The burden is distributed – the moderator has to have a plan and the ability to herd the speakers through it, and those on the panel have to have an agreement as to who is going to cover what, but you don’t have to prepare slides a month in advance nor stand alone under the spotlight hoping that the words sound as good live as they did four weeks ago in the seclusion of your office.
There is enough structure but also room for spontaneity as the discussion takes turns which were not on the formal agenda and, as long as the moderator is good enough to haul you back to the advertised programme, they can be fun to do – assuming, of course, that your fellow-panellists have something useful to say.
There was no problem on that score with the two panels which I did for Autonomy at LegalTech in New York earlier this month. The programme was the same for both of them. Carter Hopkins, in-house counsel at McAfee, and I were on both of them, but the third player in one was Florinda Baldridge, Global head of Litigation Support at Fulbright & Jaworski and at the other was Laurie Weiss, co-head of Fulbright’s E-Discovery and Information Management Practice Group. Deborah Baron, VP Legal & Compliance at Autonomy, Inc. was the able moderator. Read the rest of this entry »
February 24, 2009
Not much changes at LegalTech from year to year. Sure, the trends come and go – “the move to the left”, Twitter, and “Please look at my CV” being this year’s big things – but for the most part, the same booths, the same faces and the same routines turn up every year.
One discernible change, however, is the interest in what is happening in other jurisdictions. “Abroad” does not rank high in US consciousness. We mocked George Bush when he asked a Welsh singer which state Wales was in, but most Americans, I think, would just wonder why anyone would care which state Wales is in. Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country, but no-one seemed seriously to question whether her foreign experience – a fly-by of some US bases, a refuelling stop in Ireland and a holiday in Mexico – was adequate for a vice-presidential candidate. In the e-discovery world, most Americans see Europe as a cross between a modest museum and a commercial colony full of obstructive civil servants obsessed with data privacy. For years, the value of the dollar and a terror of terror kept them all at home.
You do not see this until you go to the US. Most of the Americans I know well have a well-rounded world view but that, I now realise, is because I meet most of them outside the US – they self-classify themselves as people who know of the world outside America because that is where I come across them. The insular ones – including, unfortunately, those who make political and commercial policy – stay at home. This matters because the US is still the commercial powerhouse of the world – no-one in America cares, frankly, what Gordon Brown thinks about America, but it does matter what America knows, or thinks it knows, about the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2009
Litigation support providers from the relatively small UK market made a good showing at LegalTech in New York this year. Amongst them was Legal Inc who hosted a panel of luminaries moderated by Charles Christian of Legal Technology Insider. LTi now has an American Edition, compounding the sense that the UK has something to contribute to the US legal technology scene.
The Legal Inc panel consisted of Sanjay Bhandari of Ernst & Young, Matthew Davis of Lovells and Andrew Haslam of Legal Inc, with the US represented by Peter Cladouhos of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.
The advertised purpose of the panel was to draw attention to some of the pitfalls and dangers inherent within electronic disclosure that can ensnare the un-prepared, and to explain how preparing for, and meeting the demands of, electronic disclosure can be scaled for large, mid-sized and even small organisations. The UK has some relevant case law at last and that, coupled with a planned EDD questionnaire and increased judicial interest in the time- and costs-savings, suggests that the ability to handle documents and data electronically is permeating down to smaller organisations and more everyday cases.
Lisa Burton of Legal Inc introduces the Panel
Peter Cladouhos, Sanjay Bhandari, Matt Davis, Andrew Haslam, Charles Christian Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2009
I went down to Bristol last week with a group of electronic disclosure suppliers at the invitation of the Western Chancery & Commercial Bar Association. The aim, as in Birmingham last year, was not just to talk about electronic disclosure, but to illustrate it by showing and describing a range of applications and services
Bristol used to be Britain’s second city. In the 18th Century it grew prosperous on the triangular trade which took cloth and iron goods to Africa, slaves to America and tobacco, and sugar and rum back to Bristol. In 1841 the Great Western Railway connected it to London and, in an early example of joined-up commerce, you could travel on GWR trains and GWR ships from London to New York. Its relative prosperity declined as other places boomed and as different industries – ship-building, tobacco, cotton – had their heyday and fell away. There is more industry in the region than one sees from the M4 – I flew over the Severn Estuary on my way in from New York at dawn a couple of weeks ago and noted the miles of industrial zones from Avonmouth Docks down towards Bristol.
All that industry, together with property-related work from the West – Bristol is the first place of any size as you come up from Cornwall or out of Wales – has supported the growth of a strong legal and professional services business. Every other legal magazine in the late 1980s seemed to profile Bristol. Its population of around 400,000 makes it now Britain’s tenth city preceded by London, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Manchester. It can take as little as 90 minutes to get to London by train. There are some large barristers’ chambers in Bristol and one does not get the impression that work is in short supply. Bristol is one of ten cities in Britain with a Mercantile Court, that is, a court with a specialist commercial list and judge or judges ticketed to hear mercantile cases.
All very interesting you may say, but this site is meant to be an information resource on electronic disclosure, not a local history, travel guide or Chamber of Commerce directory. Indeed, but disclosure comes with litigation; litigation follows industry and business; and the ability to win commercial litigation work from any region depends on the quality of local law firms and chambers, and on their ability to stop the work from heading to London. It ought to be possible, in fact, for the combination of legal skills, good transport links and an efficient Mercantile Court not just to stem the flow to London but to reverse it. The sixty or so barristers and solicitors who turned out to listen to us presumably want to draw work into their region. Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2009
Professor Dame Hazel Genn QC has launched a stinging attack on the downgrading of civil justice and the promotion of mediation at the expense of the civil litigation system. ADR is a worthy parallel remedy but government promoted it more as a means of saving money than as an extension of access to justice. The courts system has been run down and some of the rules changes have succeeded only in driving litigants out of the system
The original and primary purpose of this Commentary is to draw attention to the formal obligations of parties and judges in respect of disclosure under the Civil Procedure Rules, to the problems it causes, and to the solutions available to meet it. Important though that is as a component of cost in litigation, you cannot really look at one such element in isolation. The management of disclosure is a sub-set of case management generally. Case management is a component of what makes justice accessible. Access to justice is a fundamental right in society and it is amongst the primary duties of government to provide and foster it. One of the reasons why I watch and report on what is said by US Magistrate Judge John Facciola, both in his court and outside it, is that he has the same strong sense that his specialist subject – which is the same as mine – is but a part of a wider set of issues.
Dame Hazel Genn QC is professor of socio-legal studies at UCL. Her December speech attacking the decline of civil justice is pithily written up by Joshua Rozenberg in his article Dame Hazel Genn warns of downgrading of civil justice. I see no point in repeating him when you can read for yourself his summary of what has been said (by others as well as Dame Hazel) about the role of government, the implications of Halsey and the retrospective views of Lord Woolf’s reforms. Read the rest of this entry »
February 17, 2009
There was something almost surreal about the discovery that the LegalTech organisers had failed to record US Magistrate Judge John Facciola’s keynote speech, given that Facciola regularly delivers Opinions castigating parties either for faulty decisions about technology or for technological incompetence. Did someone decide “Nah. It’s only that Italian guy – let’s not bother” or did someone press the wrong button on the tape recorder? Whatever the cause, it is a pity. The speech, like many of John Facciola’s Opinions, should be compulsory listening for lawyers and judges, and as much on the UK side of the Atlantic as on his.
The speech was introduced by Neil Aresty of Legal Computer Solutions, Inc. Aresty made reference to the “Christmas Eve decision” in Covad Communications v Revonet. A paragraph from that decision will suffice to set the scene and to show why Judge Facciola strikes a chord in the UK. Speaking of an archaic form of document request which ignored the last 40 years of technological development, he said:
“While I have considered a similar provision in depth once before, I see no need to repeat that metaphysical exercise here because it is a waste of judicial resources to continue to split hairs on an issue that should disappear when lawyers start abiding by their obligations under the amended Federal Rules and talk to each other about the form of production. I would much prefer to carry out my duties in accordance with Rule 1, which provides that the rules “should be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” Read the rest of this entry »
February 11, 2009
One of the benefits of being linked to the companies who sponsor the e-Disclosure Information Project is the opportunity to talk to those who work for them. These are the people who are out meeting with and working with the users, both lawyers and corporate clients, and it is in part from these conversations that I keep in touch with what is happening. They may, flatteringly enough, have called me to ask for my view, but I generally get as much as I give in these discussions. Read the rest of this entry »
February 11, 2009
The respected e-discovery commentator Tom O’Connor has published his initial report on LegalTech on his blog, with the title The Big Takeaway from LegalTech New York. His patch in the US e-discovery scene roughly parallels mine in the UK. We did a panel together at LegalTech (see How safe is safe harbor?) and we are both involved with e-Disclosure Information Project sponsor Anacomp/CaseLogistix.
Tom’s main theme is the growing realisation of the importance of the clients’ data at the left hand (information management) end of the EDRM diagram, and the links between content management and electronic discovery. His comment is actually about the lack of such realisation by lawyers, despite the fact that clients and suppliers are moving there fast – Autonomy’s pending acquisition of Interwoven is clearly founded in part on this realisation.
Tom rightly ties this assessment of the lawyers’ slowness to grasp the point to Judge Facciola’s speech, which remarked on the stubborn refusal of lawyers to accept that technology must be understood by those who purport to conduct litigation. I will shortly put up my own report of Judge Facciola’s speech.
The key, in the US and in the UK, is education. Clients, courts and justice itself are badly served for as long as lawyers refuse to accept that handling electronic documents requires a modicum of knowledge about the subject.
February 11, 2009
I have yet to write up the tremendous speech made by US Magistrate Judge John Facciola at LegalTech in New York last week. My excuse, if such be needed, is that it contained so much of importance to anyone practising in any common law civil jurisdiction that it will take some time to capture what he said. For some unaccountable reason, the organisers failed to record it, making it the more important to write it up.
The influence of a judicial perspective on any aspect of case management is not to be under-rated, and this applies more to electronic discovery than to anything else. One of the issues we have in the UK, for example, is one of consistency of outcome – parties do not know what to expect from the judge and so cannot negotiate about the scope of disclosure within a known framework.
US judges are more willing to discuss publicly what they expect from parties, probabaly because they are taught about it and have more exposure to it than UK judges. Kazeon, who provide software and services for corporations, legal services providers and law firms to search for, retrieve and analyse data, has a webinar coming up at which the speakers include two judges. Read the rest of this entry »
February 11, 2009
So, you have got your mind round this “move to the left” bit they were all talking about at LegalTech and you are clear about the importance of information management, the first stage of the EDRM diagram as a start-point (the obvious start-point if you think about it) for the collection of documents and data for litigation or for facing a regulatory investigation.
You have your custodians sorted, know how you will manage your Microsoft Office documents, may even have got your mind round the HR and accounting databases. Sorted then, ready for anything, bring it on.
The chances are that you have missed one big thing – the corporate web site and intranet. Unlike, say, individual Word files, each part of a web site depends on others. Unlike your HR or accounting database it probably lacks the tools to check its own integrity, which may depend on elements beyond your control. It probably changed frequently, with no thought as to preservation of the replaced pages, still less the ever-changing content of any database which was the source of the components of the pages. Yet your web site was customer-facing, possibly included pricing or terms of contract, and could be vital evidence in any dispute or investigation. If you think that just copying it all onto a backup tape from time to time is the answer, have a go at restoring your last backup – if, indeed you ever made one.
That is the selling message of Hanzo Archives, whose Mark Middleton came to see me in Oxford a little while back after attending a conference at which I was speaking. I came across him again at LegalTech in NewYork last week, apparently happy that he had attracted attention even in the gloomy corner of the Hilton’s third floor which had been allocated to Hanzo Archives. His observations on what he learned from the booth’s visitors are on Hanzo Archives’ blog.
It is always good to see a British company carrying initiatives to the US, as well as to mainland Europe. It will be interesting to find out how much of the LegalTech interest converts into something more.
February 10, 2009
I spoke on safe harbor on a panel at LegalTech sponsored and led by LDSI. Does it give as much protection as its proponents aver? Why is Europe so concerned about data privacy anyway?
It is a beguiling expression, safe harbor. You picture small boats rocking gently in the sunlight behind a stout sea wall whilst the storms rage beyond. Your precious cargo of data shipped from Spain or Italy is protected from the threatening clouds marked “SEC” and “IRS” and can be processed and reviewed in peace by your trusty crew. European data controllers can sleep peacefully at night confident that they are protected from marauding information commissioners and angry data subjects.
Such is the appeal of the expression “safe harbor” that America started using it simultaneously for more than one completely different concept. One is the registration mechanism thrashed out between the European Commission and the US Department of Commerce in 2000 to mitigate the commercial impact for US companies of the EU Directive 95/46/EU of 1995 on the Processing of Personal Data. Another protects ISPs from copyright infringements by their users. The expression also occurs in Evidence Rule 510 to do with waiver of privilege. This article relates to data privacy. Read the rest of this entry »
February 10, 2009
Only one practising UK commercial lawyer came to LegalTech in New York. Recession hit the litigation support industry before our eyes. One of the recurring themes there was that the clients are taking discovery in house. Down the road we saw some other extinct species
As if LegalTech itself were not enough, Sunday, my first full day back from New York, lasted for 24 hours, thanks to disrupted sleep patterns, a full InBox and a five hour meeting discussing potential discovery developments in Australia and AsiaPac.
You know better by now, I think, than to expect a dutiful account of LegalTech. You get from me little in the way of faithful reports of worthy sessions, no deep market analysis, no breathless interviews with industry leaders. Others, I know, sit on the special pews reserved for bloggers and have their reports filed before the speaker has made it to the bar. I got to few sessions, although I did turn up, I think, to all those I was booked to speak at. There is no shortage of industry leaders to talk to – you bump into CEOs in corridors or go up to their eyries above cloud level at the Warwick Hotel – but journalistic scoops are not really my style and I am content to wait for the press releases. I am into broader sweeps than the last big sale or the next major release. Read the rest of this entry »