August 31, 2009
I said in an earlier article (Recruiting one’s strength for post-recession litigation support) that I would come back to the difficult subject of e- discovery certification. The context in which it came up was that of the individual skills of litigation support professionals, and that is what this article is about. It is worth observing, however, that the assessment of e-disclosure / e-disclosure ability comes up also in other settings, including:
- The competence of services providers to render the services which they advertise.
- The fitness of a lawyer or firm of lawyers to practice in litigation in a world dominated by electronic documents, and of judges to manage cases.
- Specific technical skills acquired by following a curriculum and taking an exam, such as those required to use Guidance Software’s EnCase products.
- Training in the use of a particular application.
Whilst some or all of these link into my subject, I mention them mainly to emphasise that they are not my primary concern here. I am concerned with the question whether individuals employed within a firm or company ought to follow a course of study leading to a piece of paper which demonstrates their aptitude. I will say straight off that I am dead against this, but the arguments to the contrary are not to be lightly dismissed in a single sentence. Read the rest of this entry »
August 29, 2009
A few days after advocating the use of YouTube videos to promote new ediscovery understanding, I found myself in one with Browning Marean of DLA. Appearing soon at a cinema near you – well, on PivotalDiscovery.com anyway.
If you put a labrador, like my dog Saxon, down almost anywhere – the Moon, say – it does not take him long to find a stick or tennis ball. He does not look for them, particularly, but they just turn up. Much the same is true of me at an e- discovery conference – I wander around, confident that I will soon come across somebody I know or total strangers who seem to know me (which is one up on Saxon who does not generally get hailed by passing tennis balls).
I was walking around the opening party at ILTA 09 having, as I thought, spoken to everyone I knew, when a figure detached herself from a crowd and introduced herself. It was Kina Kim of PivotalDiscovery. com which describes itself as “the community for ediscovery and litigation professionals”. PivotalDiscovery has links to other sites and articles (including, as it turned out, one of mine), a career portal, and an index of events. It also has videos, including some on YouTube, and can be followed on Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »
August 29, 2009
I am not going to give you a full report of Richard Susskind’s talk to ILTA last week. Its basic premise is well-known to anyone interested in this area; I have written about it before; if you are interested, you would have read the book; and anyway, recording a Susskind speech is like trying to catch Niagara in a bucket. If you are not interested in what he says, then you will be dead commercially within five years anyway, whether you are in-house counsel responsible to the board, or a law firm hoping to receive instructions. This does not mean that you have to agree either with Susskind’s premises or his conclusions, but you do need to know what the arguments are.
Richard is not, it seems, much taken by my comparison between him and Private Frazer (see Richard Susskind End of Lawyers resources. Of course, (and as I acknowledged) a précis which characterises his message simply as one simply of doom ignores the fact that the title of his book The End of Lawyers? ends in a question mark. Even that chap who used to wander along Oxford Street with a banner proclaiming the imminent end of the world offered redemption to those who repented, and Susskind does the same. Redemption however, whether in business terms or in the wider spiritual context, lacks a simple road-map. We do not even have a destination, just the certainty that where we are is not the place to be. Recognising that much is a good start.
Instead of summarising the lot, I will pick one or two of the points which Richard Susskind made which seemed to me to have particular relevance in the litigation support context. Read the rest of this entry »
August 28, 2009
The Litigation Support Peer Group had a session at ILTA09 called The Future of Our Litigation Support Profession: What Lies Ahead? These are the people who actually do the work, so their reports and their views are worth having. They, and the high-level recruiter who sat with them, were optimistic, and that looks like more than mere hype.
What is interesting about discovery and electronic discovery, at least from where I sit, is that it embraces everything from state policy down to the minutiae of data handling, passing on the way some sophisticated technology, board-level strategy in law firms and their clients, and wider concepts like justice, winning and the like. It is also interesting, however, in career terms and in how firms and companies set up, structure and run the business unit which handles disclosure / discovery. Amidst all these high-flown business, technical and philosophical areas are people, in ones and twos or in teams, who are actually doing the work. Lest the reference to “business unit” may seem to imply big teams in grand departments, I see it as embracing also a single person in a small firm whose management is of projects and outsiders rather than of internal teams and who does not have to have responsibility for staff to need the tactical and strategic skills which were discussed in the session.
The Litigation Support Peer Group of ILTA is run by and for people like this. One of the many things that is interesting about the industry is that few have grown old working in it because it is itself too young (they may feel that they have aged fast, but that is a different point; Browning Marean claims to be 36, for example). Those in senior positions in litigation support have, by and large, transferred across either from the pure law side or from IT. Every firm has developed its own way of doing things, and three of those sitting on the panel are examples of those who have forged careers and taken on responsibility in what is a whole new area of practice. Read the rest of this entry »
August 26, 2009
One of my roles for sponsors is to pick up the nuances of language differences between American terminology and English English, which amount to a great deal more than remembering to avoid references to “attorney”. It is not that I claim anything special for English English (well I do, of course, but not in this context) but that if you are trying to sell solutions to English lawyers, you should do so in their language.
I was a little taken aback this morning to find a large and very smart black people carrier outside the Gaylord National Hotel with the name “Suburban” proudly emblazoned on its side. That would be the kiss of death in marketing terms in England. It is not that we don’t value the suburbs – people like to live and bring up their children in them and they hold an important place in modern British culture. Like so many other things which we value, however, we simultaneously despise them. Where Americans see (I assume) pleasant detached houses in large green plots behind low white fences, we think of rows of tacky 1930s semis or even tackier 1970s estates, where people with dubious accents and faux-posh expressions twitch their net curtains in between bouts of wife-swapping. Read the rest of this entry »
August 25, 2009
It overstates it more than a little to call this news. There are rumours of news but, as I write this on Monday, the vendor stands are still being put up and, if there are announcements being made, I am missing them [correction: FTI Technology has just launched Ringtail QuickCull Appliance for In-House E-Discovery sometime between my starting this article and reaching the end. More when I have seen it]. Mind you, you could miss the announcement of a war here. Read the rest of this entry »
August 22, 2009
It is obvious why American discovery must necessarily be bigger than discovery anywhere else. Everything else is bigger here and it is perhaps a point of honour – there would be a sense of failure if any other country had bigger discovery exercises than America.
Take the rain, for example. It was pouring down when I last left the US, after CEIC in Orlando in May. We could barely see the car in front as we drove to the airport. That same storm seemed to have reached Washington today, as Nigel Murray of Trilantic and I drove towards the Gaylord National Resort in Washington, the venue for ILTA09.
Like its twin in Dallas which was ILTA’s venue last year, this place is enormous. I spent the first hour or so exploring its vastness. It is not that there is nobody here. As its name implies, the Gaylord is a resort, and, for the weekend least, there are a lot of families here. There are two wedding parties going on – I can guess that they are separate parties because their respective guests are stunningly turned out in what appear to be themed uniforms, pale green silk for one and deep red and white for the other. Do only beautiful people go to weddings here or is there something about weddings which makes everyone look attractive? This is another of these “which came first” questions, rather like the ones which arise about the size of document populations – did the technology for document creation and storage develop to meet a need for more documents, or do we create more documents because the technology exists? Read the rest of this entry »