Time to take the next steps: a Hong Kong eDiscovery conference

June 26, 2011

Leaving aside Australian conferences, this was my fourth AsiaPac event. Two years ago, I co-chaired a conference for LexisNexis in Singapore. Shortly after that, Jeffrey Teh and others from LexisNexis set up InnoXcell to bring business events to the region. I did conferences with them last year in both Hong Kong and Singapore and was pleased to be asked back to Hong Kong for this week’s conference.

Here is a Twitter exchange between me and whoever tweets on behalf of @Exterro and @eDiscoveryGroup after the first day of the conference:

Me: Day 1 of eDiscovery conference in HK ends – a good day. Two sessions down and one on costs to go tomorrow

Exterro: How has that conference being going? Any ground-breaking stuff happening?

Me: That is not what to expect here – slow attrition is the target rather than breaking new ground

Exterro: Well then how is the slow attrition going? [He doesn’t give up, this one]

Me: Steadily and in the right direction

eDiscoveryGroup: “Steadily and in the right direction?” What direction are they headed?

Me: If I’d known I would provoke an inquisition from all corners I’d have kept my trap shut. My report will follow.

So here is that report. “Steadily and in the right direction”, as used in my tweet, has its plain English meaning – nothing dramatic has happened in Hong Kong in e-Discovery terms since I was last here, but there is interest from a wider range of companies and lawyers provoked by much the same pressures as arise elsewhere. As with everywhere else, we need to move on from “What is native format?” to “How can I best reach my client’s objective?”. Read the rest of this entry »


The Discovery skills of Hong Kong cab drivers

June 25, 2011

I am in Hong Kong, having just finished the two-day InnoXcell eDiscovery conference. The purpose at these conferences – my purpose anyway – is to encourage lawyers to know their way around the rules, the practice and the technology so that they can set off in the right direction. The rules have more flexibility in them than most people realise; the technology advances in ability and reduces in cost in a way which keeps pace, more or less, with the increases in volumes. Lawyers acquire a certain confidence if, as well as knowing the facts and understanding the issues, they can use the rules to their advantage, estimate the costs and have at least some idea of what technology exists to help them to help their clients to their objective. Electronic documents holds the evidence, and knowing how to give discovery is a primary litigation skill.

Relatively few lawyers have this array of skills and knowledge, whilst purporting to offer a litigation service in which the costs and other implications of electronic discovery/disclosure are usually the biggest single component. Hong Kong taxi drivers offer a parallel. Read the rest of this entry »


Predictive Coding Wars: Recommind Contra Mundum

June 19, 2011

It is a novel experience to spend a whole Saturday writing a 4,330-word article whose conclusion is that none of its subject-matter is really very important to one’s readers, however much it means to the participants in the story.

Sink the BismarckIf you have come to see me take sides in the predictive coding war of the last few days, you will be disappointed. My job is enlightenment: picture me, if you like, as a small boat sailing between the double line at Trafalgar as the shots fly overhead, trying to give an update on the state of the technology being used rather than a partisan account of the battle. Actually, it has been more like Sink the Bismarck, with enemy ships and planes great and small all directing their fire at one target. Fortunately for Recommind, playing the Bismarck in this scenario, we don’t get to see the final reel.

For those who do not know, I am funded on a flat-rate basis by sponsorship from the companies whose logos appear on the right. Anyone who expects me to take sides misunderstands the nature of my role. It is not just a matter of not biting the hand that feeds me, nor of holding the ring between them when they start fighting each other. The aim is to try and shine a steady light in the darkness for the benefit of those who must get on with the job of managing electronic discovery / disclosure, and to keep it burning whatever is going on around me. I do not actually think that the market gives two hoots for this battle or its outcome (if there is one), but it may be helpful to have a distillation of the debate, if that is not too dignified a term for it.

While we are on disclosure of interests, I should say that I know nearly all the people mentioned here apart from Henry V, Hamlet, Alice and Humpty Dumpty, Houdini, Pontius Pilate, Tom, Dick and Harry, Lt Farley (late of the Confederate Army) and a couple of the referenced authors. Read the rest of this entry »


Virtual LegalTech on 16 June – Advanced Litigation Technologies with LeClairRyan

June 16, 2011

I took part in the very first Virtual LegalTech, ALM’s imaginative way of delivering webinars online in a series running through a day, giving delegates most of the benefits of attending a conference without the cost and burden off getting to it.

I have now been asked to moderate a session for the 16 June Virtual LegalTech. The subject is Advanced Technologies for Litigation Support Professionals which goes out from 11:15am to 12:15pm Eastern Time today, 16 June.

I had a free hand to choose the panelists. At the real LegalTech in New York in February, I met Bill Belt and Daryl Shetterly, partners in LeClairRyan’s discovery solutions practice, who subsequently came to visit us in Oxford on one of their trips to the UK. They are contributors to LeClairRyan’s  ediscovery blog posts, with thoughtful articles which are practical and bang on point.

They kindly accepted my invitation to join me on the webinar, and we have put together a set of slides which begins with the New York Times article Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software of March, goes through the different types of technology LeClairRyan and other ediscovery firms use in practice, and ends with ideas for establishing an ediscovery practice.

Other speakers during the day include Ann-Marie Gibbs, National Director of Consulting at Daegis, Monica Bay, Editor-in-Chief of Law Technology News, US Magistrate Judge David Waxse and former US Magistrate Judge Ronald Hedges. The judicial panel is called Why Lawyers Cannot Afford to Ignore Technology which, I think, will nicely complement our session.

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Georgetown Law eDiscovery Training Academy crosses the bridge

June 16, 2011

The technology I really want to see is a time machine or some kind of teleportation device. I once attended conferences in Barcelona and Sydney in the same week. I have had breakfast in Sydney and dinner in Washington on the same day and, later this year, I have to do a three-day conference in Germany and a two-day conference in Washington in the same week. I have had to accept that I cannot be with Sedona in Lisbon and with InnoXcell in Hong Kong next week (Hong Kong wins), and I was equally sorry last week that I could not be simultaneously in Frankfurt and Georgetown.

The Georgetown event was the Georgetown Law eDiscovery Training Academy. Guidance Software gave copies of its Encase Forensic Software for each delegate to use during the week and Craig Ball explained the computer context and showed how to use EnCase.

The faculty for the five days included US Magistrate Judge John Facciola, Chief US Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm, Michael Arkfeld (Arkfeld & Associates LLC), Jason Baron (National Archives & Records Administration), Maura Grossman (Wachtel,Lipton, Rosen & Katz), Tom O’Connor (Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center),  and Larry Center (Georgetown CLE).

Patrick Burke, Senior Director and Assistant General Counsel of Guidance Software describes the event in two blog posts here  and here, and Tom O’Connor wrote about the wrap-up here. I like in particular Judge Facciola’s comment “this conference crossed the bridge.  I for one can’t go back to superficial lectures any more.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  It’s been a terribly exciting experience for me.” 

Training and education are rather like marketing – we are always looking out for new ways of delivering knowledge and understanding. Events like this take an immense amount of organisation and need the support such as Guidance Software gave to this one. For the foreseeable future, articles, seminars and conferences will be the backbone of the education effort. This event shows us that there are different and more imaginative ways of getting messages across. I wish I had been there.

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eDiscovery in Germany: moderating a conference for AccessData in Frankfurt

June 16, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night, and as he watched the lightning split the clouds and heard the thunder rolling across the castle’s turrets and towers, he thought sod this for a game of soldiers. With six unbroken hours of speaking and moderating and a late night behind me, and only a late morning flight ahead, surely I can just be left just to sleep for a change.

Kronberg Castle exterior

The occasion was AccessData’s Electronic Discovery Conference in Germany, run in partnership with H7b1 and DRS Digital. The venue was the Schlosshotel Kronberg just outside Frankfurt, quite the finest venue I have ever spoken in. It was the home of Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, and Empress-Dowager of Germany following the death of her husband Frederick after only 99 days as Emperor. She was the mother of Wilhelm II, which is why Britain and Germany were ruled by cousins during the Great War. It belongs firmly in the English Gothic Revival style, and the curious but comfortable mixture of cathedral-like pillars and warm, red carpets is very English, whilst the exterior is unmistakably German. The menu is similarly divided, speaking of “the “englischer Tradition der Afternoon Tea” with “Scones mit Clotted Cream und Muffins”. It is a very tangible reminder of the close relationship which once existed between Britain and Germany and the similarities in outlook and much else.

There is much that is different, of course, and the discovery of documents for litigation is one of those differences. Germany, like other countries in Europe, is having to recognise that electronic documents, and the means of handling them, can no longer be dismissed glibly as something which Americans do, with the implication that it is an unnecessary and unnecessarily expensive game. It has something of that about it, certainly, to non-US eyes, but it is important to distinguish between different points here: on the one hand we have the fundamental principle that the documents hold the contemporaneous evidence and its allied equitable principle that those who seek help from the court must be transparent about their evidence; on the other, we have the rules and procedures governing the scope of discovery and its production. One can praise one and stand amazed, sometimes, at the other. Read the rest of this entry »


Nigel Murray reaches Paris, raising £4,500 for Help for Heroes

June 12, 2011

Nigel Murray of Huron Legal has completed his arduous cycle ride for Help for Heroes. Not surprisingly, he was not able to keep his blog going whilst cycling, and I am pleased to pass on his emailed report (minus the photographs) which reached me a few minutes ago.

Dear All

Arrived back last night after a most memorable trip.  I am afraid I did not manage to keep my blog up to date however the “official blog” including good short videos of each day is at:  http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/blogs/BBBR_2011/ It will take a while to look at – but the videos are excellent and really give a good feel of the ride.

Arriving in Paris after cycling nearly 350 miles was memorable.  I cycled the last of the route  – from outside Versailles to the Arc de Triomphe with the wounded (11 in 3 wheel hand powered or site-down bikes as well as other limbless on normal bikes);  a wonderful experience being amongst the soldiers with their excellent humour – and to see the reaction of the Parisians – so many just stopped what they were doing and clapped.  The car drivers however were a tad different as we managed to cause quite some traffic jams!

Arrival in Paris was excellent, despite the heavens opening and everyone being absolutely soaked during the memorial service at the Arc, but still in good humour.  The French police then escorted us down the Champs Elysee with one of the support vans blasting out various classic Bruce Springsteen hits – again to much clapping, and even dancing, from the Parisian population.  I cannot imagine either Park Lane or 5th Avenue being closed at 5pm on a Friday afternoon for a bunch of French cyclists! The French really appreciate what we did for them all those years ago – and what we are still doing today.

During the celebrations we heard that Help for Heroes had managed to raise over £100m.  A huge effort in just 3 ½ years, and thank you all for your part, especially those who have sponsored me over the last 3 years.  The Sun paper is a sponsor and had a team of 3 on the ride.  Their coverage is at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/3631688/Help-for-Heroes-br-hits-historic-100m.html  and if you look carefully you can make out my back just behind the Page 3 girl! Read the rest of this entry »


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