Australia at the centre of the discovery world

June 28, 2009

The default map of the world shows Britain in the middle and near the top, with Alaska at top left and New Zealand at bottom right. Perhaps that is because Europe invented the Greenwich Meridian; maybe it is a legacy of Empire or a conspiracy of cartographers (the phrase is Tom Stoppard’s);  possibly the maps in Australia are centred on Canberra, with Iceland and Cape Horn as their left and right extremes. By any measure, anywhere else is a long way from Australia. Its influence in the world of electronic discovery is disproportionately large. Read the rest of this entry »

Equivio appeal to corporate IT

June 25, 2009

Back in March, I wrote about an interview which I had conducted with Warwick Sharp, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Equivio (see Podcast summarisises Equivio benefits). A transcript of the interview was first published in Enterprise Technology Management (ETM), Q1 2009. ETM is produced by Informed Market Intelligence (IMI), London.

IMI’s primary audience is described thus:

Information technology has evolved to be the cornerstone of all business activity. Business strategy and technology solutions have become so intertwined that IT is now the driving force behind business success or downfall.

As a result of this convergence, a new type of IT executive has emerged: one who spends the majority of his or her time on business strategy, working hand-in-hand with business colleagues to not only support but actually drive business success.

Today’s global companies need to be strategic thinkers, able to move beyond reactive and even responsive behaviour. They need to be predictive, setting the technology agenda based on their understanding of where business and technology are moving. They need to ensure that all technology investments are driven by business strategy, and that IT is being used to ensure agility and innovation throughout the organization.

My own primary audience is further along the chain, the lawyers and judges who are responsible for handling electronic discovery for litigation, regulatory and related purposes, and the suppliers who serve them. There is, however, a close relationship between the two audiences – it is the corporate IT executives who own and control the data which ends up as the raw material for disclosure. There are two ways in which we can influence the latter to be more strategic and predictive – by anticipating the company’s disclosure requirements in their information management strategies, and by working more closely with the company’s lawyers both to be ready for any disclosure eventuality and when an actual requirement arises. Read the rest of this entry »

Sedona Conference dialogue on cross-border discovery in Barcelona

June 25, 2009

As I have noted elsewhere, I had my own cross-border problems in getting to the Sedona Conference International Programme on Cross-Border eDiscovery, eDisclosure and Data Privacy Conflicts in Barcelona on 10-11 June. I was chairing an edisclosure conference in London the previous day and due in Sydney at the week-end and, in consequence, arrived late in Barcelona and left as soon as the main business ended.

I am spared my usual faithful accounts of the sessions by Sedona’s sensible rule that “what happens at Sedona stays at Sedona”. My mission generally is to get as wide an audience as possible for what is said at conferences, but I am more than happy to submit to the restriction in this context, partly because there is more than enough else to write up and partly because the density of the dialogue (and Sedona is expressly committed to dialogue rather than debate) is such that you would need a book to do justice to its proceedings.

It seems sensible instead to juxtapose some stereotypes against the reality in an attempt to show those new to the subject what the broad picture is. This matters because cross-border issues inevitably involve cross-cultural matters as well as conflicts of laws. The best and most topical summary of the issues is Working Document 1/2009 on pre-trial discovery for cross border civil litigation prepared by a Working Party set up under Article 29 of EU Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. Its introduction recites the problem thus: Read the rest of this entry »

Ark Group e-Disclosure Conference 2009

June 19, 2009

You can generate a lot of notes in six conference days in three countries in nine days and have little time to transcribe them. I am quite good at actually recording what people say, less so at the small but telling details like headings and page-numbering. I can generally rely on my memory to fill the gaps in my notes (and the bits I cannot read) but that is a tall order when information has rolled at me continuously for days like infantry at the Somme. Ark Group’s e-disclosure conference of the beginning of last week seems a distant memory on a cold, wet dawn in Sydney ten days later when I started writing it all up, still more in the dark aeroplane cabin surrounded by snoring travellers on the way home when I finished it off. There was lots of good stuff said at the conference, but I doubt you would read a verbatim account even if I could set it down. What follows is a summary.

The chairman on Day 1 was Lee Gluyas of DLA Piper UK LLP who, as in previous years, was well up to the challenge of keeping speakers to time. Lee’s opening comments identified a positive shift over the time he had been filling this role, a greater awareness of the issues and the need to grapple with them. Read the rest of this entry »

Jackson conference challenge to litigation support providers

June 15, 2009

Lord Justice Jackson laid down a challenge to litigation support providers at the Ark Group e-Disclosure 2009 conference in London last week. They must, he said, find a way to bring down the cost of e-disclosure; if they cannot, then the basis of disclosure will have to be changed. Other jurisdictions provide a disputes forum which does not require the parties to undertake the vast exercises which are needed for compliance with the existing disclosure regime. The implication was that the old and treasured principle that all the evidence must be rigorously examined is threatened by the brute fact that the cost of conducting that examination is too high.

There is much more to say about this than can be fitted into an account of a two day conference, so I will settle for a bullet point summary of the other elements which contribute more to the costs than most suppliers do: Read the rest of this entry »

In travelling as in most services delivery, it is the little things which matter

June 14, 2009

If this piece has any e-discovery parallels at all, they are to do with project management and the contingencies of time and cost which turn up in any project. It is also about the apparently trivial things which flavour a user’s experience. I am attending three conferences in sequence, and will cover them in various posts. This one is mainly about the glue holding the conferences together – the journeys in between. Like any other form of service delivery, the small things make a difference.

The primary components in travelling work quite well really. Take railways: the concept of a set of parallel metal tracks, unimpeded by third parties, should be unbeatable as a service, with no major changes in principle since Brunel’s day. It is the people running it who f*** it up. Or flying: the idea that a large metal box can take to the air and put you down safely and on time half-way round the world remains remarkable all these years after Wilbur (or was it Orville?) flew a few feet across the dunes at Kittyhawk. The fact that you can look up, book and pay for all these things, research hotels at your destination, check the weather there and make contact with everyone who needs to know your plans, all from your desk, is pretty fantastic also, and that you can do most of that whilst in transit from a little box in your pocket even more so.

It is the little things which let it down though – lack of thought about details, or bloody-mindedness, or price. I am, for example, sitting on the floor at Bangkok airport whilst I type the beginning of this piece. Bangkok is a major airline transfer hub, a place where people from all over the world have to wait for an hour or four between flights. There is everything one could want here including, incongruously, Boots the Chemist and Whittards of Chelsea, but barely enough seating except at the gates. If we are sitting down, we are not adding to the footfall which drives the rents in this vast shopping centre in the middle of nowhere – and the simple way to keep us moving round the shops, they think, is to provide only a few seats. It is an attitude called “sod the customer”. It is a trivial point compared with things like the wings staying on but I will not choose to pass this way again if I can help it – and there is a choice. Read the rest of this entry »

Judge Grimm webinar on the Maryland Protocol

June 7, 2009

When US Chief Magistrate Judge Paul W Grimm was in London for the IQPC Information Retention and e-Disclosure Management Conference recently, he mentioned the Maryland Protocol which he and others have devised for the better handling of electronically stored information in court.

Clive Freedman of 3 Verulam Buildings, the barrister who has been responsible for the actual drafting of the proposed new e-Disclosure Practice Direction as part of Senior Master Whitaker’s drafting group, made use of part of the Maryland Protocol for part of the final version of our Practice Direction, which is to be submitted this week.

There is an opportunity to hear Judge Grimm talk about the Maryland Protocol on Tuesday 9 June at 12:00 EST, when Wave University hosts a webinar at which it will be discussed.

Registration can be made from the Wave University Webinar Schedule.

I will miss it – I am chairing the second day of the Ark Group e-Disclosure Conference that afternoon. On the strength of other webinars in which Judge Grimm has spoken, I know it will be worth listening to.


Birmingham Post reports on costs management trial

June 5, 2009

The litigation costs management trial on which I reported a few days ago (Jackson launches costs management trial in Birmingham) has been covered by the Birmingham Post.

Their article of 3 June is headed City will be test case for costs rules and includes a photograph of Lord Justice Jackson, three of the judges from the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre who will be running the trial, and Martino Giaquinto of Mills & Reeve who hosted the event at which the trial was launched.

It is no accident that the e-Disclosure Information Project was also launched in Birmingham. The modern, forward-thinking civil courts are representative of a thriving commercial and professional centre which seems to have a more cohesive feel to its business community than many other places. Read the rest of this entry »

Remember to seek disclosure of telephone recordings

June 5, 2009

A “document” is defined in Rule 31.4 CPR as “anything on which information of any kind is recorded”. Lawyers brought up in the days of paper disclosure, even those who have adjusted to electronic versions of those paper documents such as the source Word file, may overlook other things “on which information of any kind is recorded”.

At the top of the list comes recordings of telephone conversations. These days, our most mundane calls are preceded by a message warning us that our call may be recorded “for training purposes”. If that was indeed its only purpose, then the warning is little more than aural clutter to make us hate the company even more than we do already – most of us come across these messages when dealing with our ISP, utilities provider or similar organisation whose institutional incompetence extends to the erection of barriers against the customer. The added delay whilst some Estuary-accented trollop warns you about recordings certainly succeeds in putting me off making any call which is not vital, as is doubtless intended. Read the rest of this entry »

The anatomy of practical disclosure and the body of evidence

June 4, 2009

Having not previously opened my doors to guest contributors, I now do so for the second time in a week. Legal Inc, who are amongst the sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project, held a workshop with the medical title shown above at IQPC’s  Information Retention and E-Disclosure Management Conference on 19 May. I was in Orlando at CEIC 2009 and asked Andrew Haslam to write it up for me. This is his report: Read the rest of this entry »

Graphical display of thesaurus terms

June 4, 2009

The graphical display of discovery / disclosure information has been one of the most interesting developments in software designed for search of all kinds. It is specifically so for litigation document review purposes and, perhaps even more so, for early case assessments when you are trying to find out just what the scope is of your document universe.

One of the distinguishing features of such a task is that the searcher often has no real idea of what the search will turn up. In most areas of research, you have a broad idea of the parameters of the hunt – I have been looking up flights and hotels recently, for example, and had the advantage of knowing that I was after a particular kind of information (a hotel, say) in a particular place (or places, given the particularly daft schedule which faces me over the next few days). Ranging shots in Google brought me to specialised databases which had fields to search in which corresponded with obvious inputs – dates, room-type, number of nights and so on – which are standard across most such resources.

Litigation is often not like that. You will, of course, have got from your clients some clues – names, date ranges, commonly-used words and so on – but whilst they may narrow the field, they are not conclusive as to what you might turn up, not least because you (if you are a lawyer) are an officer of the court as well as the client’s gladiator, and it is your practising certificate and insurance policy which is on the line. Read the rest of this entry »

Labour’s fall may be matched by litigation’s recovery

June 4, 2009

I have just sent off my slides for my keynote speech at the Ark Group’s e-disclosure conference on Monday 9 June. Its title is The Empty Bear Garden, and it is about the decline of litigation since the CPR of 1999 and what we can do to stem that. My conclusion is that we are in a position to turn the tide and will do so if we pay more attention to the balance between rules and discretion, focus more on what really matters and what clients want, and be willing to challenge some of the existing orthodoxies.

Roughly the same period, since New Labour’s election in 1997, has seen the rise of what the Institute for Public Policy Research recently called “intolerant centralism”. The state has become ever more intrusive into our lives at several levels: vast databases record every aspect of our lives; cameras watch our every move; faceless bureaucrats have acquired powers way beyond their abilities; widely-drawn (and badly-drawn) laws give policemen and others in uniform the purported right to exercise a discretion unintended by Parliament; highways officers at the bottom of life’s intellectual pile clutter our roads with notices and urge us to “think”; ministers who appear on the surface to have been merely useless (Jacquie Smith) or deeply stupid (Caroline Flint) emerge as sinister, assuming powers over our lives thanks to their party’s majority which we would never grant them as individuals; MPs behave as if the norms of society do not apply to them, relying on the letter, but forgetting the spirit, of the law; rules multiply, each one having the effect of  nullifying our scope and ability to think for ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Parallel and cross-border developments in eDiscovery

June 2, 2009

I have just had to turn down the opportunity to speak at a conference organised by LexisNexis in Hong Kong on 20 and 21 July. The invitation was to deliver the keynote speech at the start of the first day with the heading  Globalisation and Digitisation: the Rising Need for Digital Forensics and E-Discovery in Today’s World, which I would have been extremely happy to do.

My Mother’s 80th birthday party is on the previous day and my eldest son’s graduation ceremony is in Leeds on the day following. I could, with a fair wind, have made it to Leeds with two hours to spare by racing at dawn from Heathrow to Gatwick. I have done worse things – my breakfast-in-Sydney-dinner-in-Washington trip last October didn’t allow even time for an espresso between terminals at LA and, as I recounted last week, I made it from Orlando to IQPC in London just as the conference opened. I am game for that sort of thing, but not for missing my Mother’s birthday. Read the rest of this entry »

Recommind recommends recognising risks of e-disclosure unreadiness

June 1, 2009

I do not take a great deal of notice of press releases. If they are interesting, everyone else will gamely recycle their contents, and who wants to be like everyone else? If they are not…. you don’t need me to finish the sentence. And when I say “recycle their contents”, I mean just that – a quick copy and paste and they are done – instant journalism. It has its place but it is not what I like to do.

I do, however, like to be sent PRs, so that I can decide if they are worth the trouble of translating from their native Marketing Crap into English. All those tri-partite, polysyllabic, hyperbolic exaggerations (like that one) which someone has laboured over so assiduously have to be stripped out to try and divine what actually matters (try it: look at most PRs in this business and you will find that every verb has three long adverbs and every noun has three adjectives  – “rapidly, accurately and defensibly” or  “innovative, cost-effective and user-friendly”; once or twice is fine, but by the time you get to the end of a piece in which every word has multiple qualifiers you are gasping for breath). Read the rest of this entry »


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