A week of positive opportunities in e-Disclosure

March 27, 2010

There are two reasons for running a week’s worth of reports and comments into a single article. The least meritorious of them is that I will not keep up with it all if I do not do a composite post. More positively, that is because a lot has been happening and I can better convey the sense of that in a single article. The overall message is one of positive steps forward, not merely defensiveness.

The previous week ended with a session run jointly with Andrew Haslam of Allvision at a medium-sized firm with a strong regional base and a London office. It is exactly the sort of firm which I have written about as holding the key to the future, at least in my own narrow ambit – agile, versatile, staffed with lawyers trained at the big city firms, and hungry for quality litigation work. It is the sort of firm which, if it makes alliances with the right providers of litigation services and invests in the skills, could take on much bigger firms at a cost lower than theirs, partly because their costs and charging rates are lower and partly because of the way they run their litigation. I will spend any amount of time with firms like this, because they get it, and could change client perceptions about how litigation should be managed.

I covered the background — the framework of rules and cases, the implications of the Jackson Report, and where we stand with the proposed new practice direction and ESI Questionnaire. Andrew Haslam spoke about the technology which is available and what a firm needs to have in place as processes and connections to be able to run with anything which comes along. In the pub afterwards, one of the solicitors told me frankly that he had come to the session expecting to be unconvinced but, having heard us on the subject of the ESI Questionnaire, intended to send it to his opponents in a particular case first thing on Monday morning. A result, I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Reasonably accessible tapes in cartoon and Court of Appeal

March 26, 2010

I resist passing on all Tom Fishburne’s wonderful Case in Point cartoons which he does for CaseCentral – this is supposed to be a serious place, and I don’t want Fishburne eclipsing my own occasional forays into the lighter side of e-Discovery.

Like all the best cartoons, this week’s is both telling as well as funny:

Importance of backups

It is also, as it happens, very timely, coming in the week where the Court of Appeal has actually had to consider a point about reasonable accessibilty of back-up tapes – the case is Fiddes v Channel 4 and I will write about it as soon as I can find a public version of the original judgment. Briefly, the judge decided against ordering the disclosure of some hard-to-access tapes on grounds of proportionality and the Court of Appeal upheld his judgment.

It does not matter what it is which makes people think about the subject – a cartoon and a Court of Appeal judgment have equal weight at that level.


Using marketing to make people hate you

March 26, 2010

There is more to marketing than making yourself heard – that is just a process, achieved with money and effort. The objective, however, is to make people buy from you, not hate the sight and sound of your name. Bad marketing taints the water for everyone else.

My post Revolutionary video pillory for PR consultants drew attention to a video on Charles Christian’s Orange Rag which sounded more like a recording than the parody it was meant to be.

He has now put up a sequel The embargo has been broken which, unlike most film sequels, maintains the standard of the first.

Whilst on the subject of PR consultants, can I give a medal to whoever is responsible for the PR for a particular US translations company? I had never heard of them before the recent campaign began and, it is fair to say, I never want to hear of them again. The trick appears to be to place the same article about the company in as many places as possible, regardless of context — I came across one today on what appears to be a site for fatties and food faddists with tags like “burn fat fast” and “psychic powers” and “healthy foods to eat”. They are not, therefore, fussy about the company they keep, merely keen that you should see their bloody press release as often as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Gucci v Curveal: a blow for US interests – whichever way you understand that expression

March 26, 2010

British 19th Century “gunboat diplomacy” and the song The Wreck of the Old 97 are what came to mind when I read the latest Opinion of a US court about the relative importance of US interests and the laws of other countries restricting the discovery of private information. Carry on like this, USA, and you may well need a gunboat to support document collections.

The article by the respected US e-Discovery commentator Tom O’Connor Why the Rest of the World Thinks we are Crazy concerns an Opinion of the District Court of the Southern District of New York which orders a Malaysian bank, not party to the proceedings, to produce documents despite a Malaysian statute prohibiting them from doing so. I volunteer to speak on the half of “the Rest of the World” Read the rest of this entry »

Legal Efficiency supplement in The Times today

March 25, 2010

Raconteur has produced an excellent supplement for today’s Times on Legal Efficiency which includes a report by Professor Dominic Regan of an interview with me. Having, as I do, the luxury of writing about anything I choose, it is good occasionally to have a discussion agenda set by someone else. Dominic is a skilled interviewer, and his questions picked out what matters.

That is true also of the others whose comments appear in the supplement, which is a very readable encapsulation of the issues which lawyers face in delivering affordable legal services to clients whilst preserving profitability.  The clients do not necessarily read articles aimed at lawyers, but they do read the Times.

This is just a quick mention to make sure you get a copy whilst it is still on the stands. I will do a fuller summary later.


Talking rather than writing – normal service will be resumed soon

March 24, 2010

The relative silence on these pages recently does not imply that I have run out of things to say (sorry about that) merely that I have had a good run of being out and about, or making plans for future events here and abroad. All good, all interesting, and all indicative of a rise in interest in e-Disclosure / e-Discovery amongst those who need to know about it, but not consistent with much considered writing.

Gucci America v Curveal has not passed unnoticed, and there is an article coming up which invokes 19th Century British gun-boat diplomacy and The Wreck of the Old 97 as parallels for the US approach to trifles like the laws of other countries. Another article, consistent with my current theme about objectives being more important than processes, shows how a PR agency can be 100% successful in getting its client’s name out there, whilst making it deeply hated – the SEO is great, chaps, but the effect is wholly negative.

All this and more when I get back from the third in my sequence of post-Jackson talks in London. Tomorrow’s one is to ALPS, the Association of Litigation Professional Support Professionals, in company with Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy – an important and knowledgeable audience. There is one more after that, on Thursday, at which I am listening rather than speaking, and then I am back at my desk for a bit and can catch up.


A flying visit to Edinburgh

March 22, 2010

The spate of blog posts last week-end was a clearing of the decks in the knowledge that I would not have much writing time for a bit. The Edinburgh trip which is the subject of this post is being followed by some in-house sessions for lawyers, and when there is a choice between talking to people and writing, the talking comes first. I also had to take every last stick of furniture and cabling, right down to the router, out of my office so that it could be  decorated and, after 11 years in the same room, that takes some reassembly.

I was in Edinburgh on Tuesday, speaking to the Scottish Society for Computers & Law with Ian Manning of Raposa Consulting and Nigel Murray of Trilantic. Trilantic organised it, and kindly invited me to take part. The law technology commentator Charles Christian of the Orange Rag has rather unfairly labeled me as the Ancient Mariner of air travel on the basis that I no sooner book a flight than either the prices plummet or the airline announces a strike. This is the first time, however, that an airline has actually ceased trading between my booking the ticket and take-off. Shortly after I was invited to go to Edinburgh, a small airline announced the opening of a route from Oxford to Edinburgh, and the price, the convenience, and the wish to support a local venture caused the suspension of my usual caution and my loyalty to British Airways. If someone ever offers to fly you from just up the road to where you need to be for £49 each way, then the offer is almost certainly too good to be true – and so it proved. The airline suspended flying in days, and I ended up as usual in my branch office, the BA Executive Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Don’t even ask about the return journey.

In between, however, it was a good trip. Ian Manning and I went to see one law firm which gave us a feel for the climate and the context – you can read all you like about a jurisdiction, but you have to go there to begin to understand those things which are the same and those things which are different. Read the rest of this entry »


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