IQPC Corporate Counsel Exchange in Brussels 18 – 20 April

I am off to Brussels at the weekend for IQPC’s Corporate Counsel Exchange. The format for this conference is rather different from the conventional series of panel discussions and platform speeches – there are plenty of these, but the primary purpose of the event, as its name implies, is for the exchange of ideas rather than merely their promulgation. The speeches and panels serve as the catalyst for business meetings and round-table discussions.

This format seems to be appreciated both by corporate counsel on the look-out for ideas and answers and for those who have software and service solutions to offer. Amongst the latter are Epiq Systems, Trilantic, Kroll OnTrack, Applied Discovery, Clearwell, LexisNexis and Wolters Kluwer, who should between them cover pretty well all the bases.

I am going to it for various reasons, none of which, for a change, is a speaking commitment. This session which interests me most is a case study led by Greg Wildisen and Mike Brown of Epiq Systems and by Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy. The title is Your company has just been raided and an investigation is under way. Have you an effective strategy to focus your resources on only the most relevant documents?

This hits the spot for me, for more reasons than my connections with the participants. Regulatory investigations are on the increase, both in a national context (with the FSA simultaneously sounding new warnings and showing that they mean business) and in the context of European regulatory investigations – the Epiq / Allen & Overy case study involves an example of the latter. London-based lawyers seem curiously content to leave this area of work to the very big firms – not, I think, because they disclaim expertise in the law, but because they assume that you need very significant in-house resources to handle the inevitably large document populations with the requisite degree of urgency. That approach ignores the fact that the technology companies have considerable expertise at the search and project management level, and that an alliance with them significantly reduces the law firm manpower required to face a regulatory investigation.

Most of the software and services suppliers at this conference will have such expertise and this is an opportunity for corporate counsel to find out more about them in a programme whose mixture of formal sessions, discussion groups and social networking opportunities seems to me to be an unbeatable way of covering a lot of ground in a short time.

I go to these things as much for the networking as anything else. It is an opportunity to catch up with some of those who sponsor the e-Disclosure Information Project (such as Epiq, Trilantic and Applied Discovery) and to meet some of those who are my readers – every conference flushes out the identity of some of those whom I know only as entries on my readership stats, and it is always a pleasure to meet them in the flesh.

The third and final reason for going is to take the opportunity of a weekend away with my wife. Most of the international conferences which I attend take place during the university term when Mary Ann is at work. It is also fair to say that quite a lot of my trips have little to offer to someone not immersed in the subject-matter, particularly when (as sometimes happens) I spend as long travelling to and fro as I spend at the destination. Brussels is accessible and, because this conference takes place at the beginning of the week, can be tacked on to a weekend visit.

There are still places for delegates at the conference, which kicks off on Sunday afternoon with a presentation by Andy Byrne of Clearwell and a drinks reception hosted by Clearwell. The registration details are here and it would be good to see as many people as possible there.

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