The Guardian, the Rolls Building and me

August 22, 2011

“Fancy you being quoted in Communist paper today!”. Thus read an e-mail received as I was boarding the plane for Nashville. The reference is to an article published in Saturday’s Guardian headed Rolls Building court complex can make London ‘global legal centre’, where  a quotation from an article of mine does indeed appear. The quotation is accurate, I gave my permission for anything I had written to be used, and I stand by it. It is, unfortunately, preceded by a sentence which does not represent my view and which could not be inferred from anything I have said. I will come back to that in a moment.

First, though, why should my correspondent be surprised that I am quoted in a “communist paper” (his words, not mine) like the Guardian? It would be fair to say that my views and those of the Guardian’s readership do not overlap very much. I am not altogether sympathetic with the idea that any problem can be solved by raising taxes and throwing a few thousand more civil servants at it; I don’t buy the idea that society is improved by a focus on rights without a concomitant emphasis on responsibilities; I deeply resent the fact that any sensible discussion about differences between people – differences of colour, race or gender – is stifled by immediate accusations of racism, xenophobia or sexism from people too intolerant, and too convinced of their own rightness to allow the subject to have an airing at all; I strongly disapprove of the idea that the state has an over-riding role in protecting us from our own decisions, even before considering the moral and intellectual shortcomings of the politicians and all those low-grade little people who purport to tell us what to do. I once got into serious trouble with a young idealist for using the expression “the Guardian-reading public” as shorthand for a whole class of wet, woolly thinkers whose claimed liberalism is in fact a severe de facto form of oppression.

That does not stop me reading the Guardian from time to time – it is wrong to dismiss views which are different from one’s own without at least trying to understand them, even if “the Guardian-reading public” does not reciprocate the courtesy; besides, the paper itself is more thoughtful than most of its target audience is about these things.

There is one area in which the Guardian has an increasingly important role – the quality of its law reporting. The Times used to be pre-eminent at this, but one rarely finds anything about the law worth reading in The Times now. I am not sure whether this is because they frig around with the layout so much that whole chunks disappear from view or whether the law has been edged out of the paper by its recent emphasis on celebs, fashion, sex and other people’s emotional problems. The Guardian, meanwhile, has gone from strength to strength on legal matters, both in the print and electronic versions and on Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA 2011 comes to life at Nashville

August 21, 2011

ILTA 2011 is slowly coming to life downstairs, but the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is so large that I am getting my information about it from tweets rather than from my own observation – there could be a London-style riot going on at the other end of this complex and you would not know it. I will put up some photographs in due course, though you really need the wide-angle lens which I left at home to get any impression of this place.

I’m not convinced that I could accurately have pointed to Nashville on a map before planning this journey and, indeed, since I don’t plan my journeys any more (my blessed wife does it for me) the journey just involved following instructions. BA gave me what they call an “involuntary upgrade”, with that curious implication that one might decline the opportunity to sleep horizontally, be offered food which is actually edible, and have access to a power outlet.  Changing terminals at JFK was a doddle thanks to the inter-terminal train, and it is worth recording (because one often hears differently) that the airline and security staff were welcoming and helpful, with apparently spontaneous smiles and offers of help if one looked at all uncertain.

On the small plane from JFK to Nashville I came across Charles Christian of the Orange Rag, the Legal Technology Insider and the American Legal Technology Insider, Rob Lancashire of digital dictation company BigHand, and legal technology writer Joanna Goodman. Charles introduced me to Rob Lancashire as “an expert on digital dictation” which is rather like introducing an occasional car driver to a Formula 1 engineer as an “expert on cars”. I am merely a user, whereas Rob Lancashire is BigHand’s managing director for UK legal and professional services. Read the rest of this entry »


Three new sponsors and HP buys Autonomy – all in a week’s work

August 20, 2011

This was never going to be a relaxing week, sandwiched as it was between a conference in Singapore and ILTA 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least I had written all my Singapore articles by the time I landed at Heathrow at dawn on Monday, with their themes of judge-led litigation processes, judicial intolerance of eDiscovery unreadiness and South East Asian business and educational ambitions.

ILTA is a fixed entry in the calendar of anyone interested in litigation technology. On the surface, it is a more relaxed event than most of the others, taking place in high summer, in casual attire rather than suits, in a resort, and spread over five days. A lot happens there, however, quite apart from the fact that Nashville is a long way from Oxford, England or, indeed, from anywhere – the journey time is the same as to Singapore with the added excitement of having to change terminals at JFK.

Like certain other things – conflicts between my sponsors, the revolting coffee on aeroplanes, and the unwanted attentions of legal PRs – these things go with the territory which I have staked out for myself, and are a small price for involvement in a global business which is worth billions, which I am passionate about, and which is occupied by interesting and likeable people. it is also a young industry, with the opportunity which that brings to make the weather and not merely to report on it.

What makes that possible is my involvement with those companies whose logos appear on the right-hand side of this page. Between them, they cover the full range of software and services used for electronic discovery in every jurisdiction in which discovery is a relevant concept. Their sponsorship does more than provide the time to write and the opportunity to go where the action is. It also gives me a direct line to the senior people in the industry, and the ability to get involved with the development of rules and the connections with judicial thinkers, things which do not of themselves create a viable business.

The addition of three new sponsors in one week may be a coincidence; I think in fact that it tells us something about the state of the eDiscovery and information governance market and the direction in which it is going. Read the rest of this entry »


You collect the loot and a forensic expert will collect the evidence

August 19, 2011

One would hope that every lawyer engaged in litigation is aware that specialist experts exist who can collect data from computers in a manner which will stand scrutiny in a court. Actually, I have no such hope, since I come across lawyers who have either never applied their mind to this subject or who think that forensics is a deeply mysterious black art, or perhaps part of the syllabus at Hogwarts.

The collection of data in a forensically sound manner is only a part of of skills and services available from a forensics expert, the criminal courts are not the only place where you might need such skills, and computers are not the only source of evidence which is digital. Many civil and, indeed, matrimonial, cases require such evidence; data involves more than documents; and computers are far from the only source of digital material. Last, but not least, you may need the service of such an expert to disprove an allegation made against a client as much as to prove a case.

it may not be immediately obvious that there is a connection between the recent civil disturbances in the UK and the work of a forensic expert. You may be interested in an article published this week in the Manchester Evening News and headed Hi-tech methods that will catch Manchester rioters about the work which CY4OR is doing to help the police identify those responsible for the disorder. That involves enhancing CCTV images as well as collecting data from the telephones and computers of those suspected of involvement. Nor does the investigatory work end with the suspects’ own devices – social media like BlackBerry Messenger or Facebook, as well as eBay, are possible sources of information relevant to every aspect of alleged involvement in the riots, from encouraging others to join in through the actual events and on to the tracing of stolen  goods.

CY4OR have their own article about this here. One hopes that riots will not be a regular component of a lawyer’s work, but high-profile incidents like this serve as a reminder of the very wide range of evidence which can be collected – or rebutted – by the use of a forensics expert.

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Huron Consulting goes with Nuix

August 16, 2011

I rarely pass on press releases without some accompanying context, focusing on a few big articles rather than many snippets, but this one headed Huron Consulting replaces Autonomy with Nuix caught my eye as it was published.

Nuix provides software for electronic discovery, investigations and for information governance. Huron Consulting Group provides a range of business consulting services including eDiscovery and related services under the banner Huron Legal. Huron recently acquired the well-known UK-based eDiscovery service provider Trilantic.

Nuix is a pure software company, making its applications available either in-house or through services providers like Huron and many others. To have someone in Huron’s league say of Nuix that “there really was no competition” is a good endorsement to have.

Both Nuix and Huron will be at ILTA 2011. Nuix is offering a “$1,000 giveaway” to those who follow it on Twitter and tweet the phrase found on their competition page. Judging by the number of hits I have found for “Nuix” whilst searching Twitter for a link to the Huron article, Nuix is gaining many followers with this idea.

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A court-led eDiscovery initiative in Singapore

August 16, 2011

I thought I had done with Singapore for a bit, at least until October when I am back there for the InnoXcell eDiscovery conference on 31 October.

A news item on the Asia Legal Business Online website seems worth passing on, however. Headed Singapore: Electronic Discovery Initiatives Launched in Legal Sector, it reports that a steering committee, including representatives from the courts and other interested bodies, including law firms, has been set up to investigate various ways of improving document review, case management and the exchange of discoverable documents.

I will keep in touch with this interesting development and let you know more as things develop.

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Conferences coming up: ILTA and the Legal Technology Leadership Summit

August 14, 2011

With Singapore behind me (well almost, I am still here as I write this, in the BA lounge, waiting to fly) I can turn to the next two events in the eDiscovery calendar.

Next up is ILTA 2011  at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee from August 21 – 25. The website still shows that registration remains open. Anyone with an interest in legal technology should be there for ILTA’s unequalled range of educational sessions, vendor displays and the opportunities to kick ideas around with people from law firms, providers and others. I will be there, and look forward to meeting as many as possible of those who are kind enough to read this blog.

September 6-8 brings the Legal Technology Leadership Summit 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, presented by Above the Law  in conjunction with the Electronic Discovery Institute. The latter is an important resource for serious and practical thought about the issues raised by electronic discovery. The rest of the world may not appreciate every aspect of the US approach to discovery, but we can certainly learn a great deal from high-level conferences like this. Read the rest of this entry »


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