Gartner’s Debra Logan and others at ZyLAB Universe 2011

December 31, 2011

If you cannot actually attend a conference, the next best thing is to read Project Counsel’s live tweets of the event and their subsequent reports. I was not able to attend ZyLAB Universe 2011 in Amsterdam on 24 November, but learned enough from the tweets to wish that I had been there. Project Counsel’s report is now out and is well worth reading for reasons which go well beyond even ZyLAB’s broad reach.

It does not diminish the importance of the other speakers to say that the presentation by Debra Logan of Gartner got the most attention. Her starting point was the five myths of eDisclosure, beginning with my favourite: that eDisclosure and litigation are “American problems”. This myth is patent nonsense if you do business with US companies or if your company is the parent, subsidiary or sister company of a US company. Even if you have no business connections with the US, you can no longer ignore the need to meet the demands of regulators, to face up to prosecutors like the UK’s Serious Fraud Office with its wide ranging remit under the UK Bribery Act, and to conduct internal investigations.

I will leave you to read Project Counsel’s report for yourself, not merely of Debra Logan’s speech but of what was said by ZyLAB’s Johannes Scholtes and others. Between the coverage of the speeches and the ancillary comment and illustrations you will get a good overview of what is coming in 2012 and beyond.

I should also, modestly, draw attention to the paper and webinar which I recently did with ZyLAB on the gap between business, legal and compliance, and IT departments within companies, a subject which recurred throughout the day.

I also note, with curiosity more than anything else, that Debra Logan is reported as referring to “eDisclosure“. In narrowly technical terms, this term refers to civil discovery under the Civil Procedure Rules of England and Wales. I prefer the universally accepted term eDiscovery except where referring specifically to the CPR. It is interesting to see Debra Logan apparently going the other way.

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Epiq Systems acquires De Novo Legal to expand its Managed Review Services

December 31, 2011

It is only eight months since Epiq Systems significantly increased its legal technology reach by the acquisition of Encore eDiscovery. It has ended the year by acquiring De Novo Legal LLC, whose particular strength is managed review services.

The acquisition significantly expands a review service which Epiq grew organically out of its software and services base in 2009. Like so many acquisitions, the commercial logic seems obvious once it has happened, with the two 2011 acquisitions significantly extending Epiq’s potential client base simultaneously with the ability to service it.

The press release is here. Despite its timing between Christmas and New Year, this transaction has attracted a lot of press attention – see, for example, the article headed EPIQ’s Acquisition Of De Novo Legal A Sign Of Things To Come by eDiscovery Journal’s Barry Murphy, which sees the acquisition as fulfilling eDiscovery Journal’s own predictions about market consolidation and about geographical, as well as functional, spread by fewer and stronger players.

I hope to find out more when the world starts moving again and will come back to this subject.

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You can find eDiscovery parallels everywhere if you look hard enough

December 29, 2011

What is the proper etiquette when someone else devotes half a blog post to writing about you? if they are simply polite, then a brief acknowledgment is all that is is required. It is easy if they are rude or argumentative – I can give as good as I get if that is the game. What, however, if you find yourself part of a pot-pourri which includes buttered parsnips and Norway’s butter shortage, his late Majesty King Richard III and his relatives, those fine English historians Sellar and Yeatman, topless barbers and a brief German lesson, with a couple of eDiscovery references thrown in? If I am occasionally discursive, a pre-Christmas blog post by my old friend Charles Holloway at Millnet makes one think of Chesterton’s poem The Rolling English Road and “the night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy head”.

When I say “old friend”, a double ambiguity is intended – Charles is one of the few people in eDiscovery / eDisclosure who is older than I am. I am not here seeking to suggest that there is a link between age and the apparently random wandering from subject to subject in his post Faire Words Butter Noe Parsnips – Charles is a former litigation partner at a well-known firm of solicitors, and brings much needed legal gravitas (leavened, I should add, with much wit) to a market which risks missing its target through over-emphasis on the alleged magic of technology. The UK eDisclosure industry (and it is no different in the US and elsewhere) very much needs lawyers in it to act as a buffer between those who face the problems caused by technology and those offering the solutions. The Millnet blog, Smart eDiscovery, is a regular and much-needed part of that translating mechanism. A willingness to step outside a bare recital of technology and rules is very much part of the blog’s attraction.

A clubbable man, Charles does himself an injustice by claiming “an air of grumpiness”; he also threatens to trespass on a niche in that regard which Charles Christian of the Orange Rag and I have worked hard to claim as our own – the space for cantankerous cynicism about legal IT is already occupied. Besides, the parsnips post is expressly a pre-holiday, silly season post, not intended to carry the deep thoughts about eDisclosure which are the norm in a Millnet blog post.

Although I baulk at trying to connect them, it falls to me to explain some of the diverse threads in Charles’s piece; indeed, I have been challenged to do so by its author. There is not a lot of eDiscovery in what follows but, then, we have all had enough of that for one year, have we not? Besides, one can dig eDiscovery parallels out of almost anything if one tries hard enough. Read the rest of this entry »


The eDisclosure Information Project in 2011

December 22, 2011

Ever keen to be up with the trends, I seize on the alleged imminent death of e-mail as one excuse for not sending Christmas messages this year. Other excuses include the deficiencies of Outlook as a mailer (“there is a limit to the addressees per e-mail, but we can’t tell you what it is”), and the latest technology innovation, Apple’s iCloud, whose question about merging address data actually means “do you want to overwrite your large address book with the empty iCloud backup?”. No, I don’t understand it, either, nor do I understand why my remedial steps have given me every entry three times with no clue as to which is the truly replicable one. In any event, I can reach pretty well everyone I want to reach through my blog and Twitter.

What follows is a mixture – summary of what I have been doing, a reminder of some of the blog posts of 2011, the pick of the conferences, and a little about next year’s plans. If the effect is of an extended travelogue, then that reflects the world-wide interest in eDisclosure / eDiscovery which supports Gartner’s estimate, made in May, that the eDiscovery software market will grow and that non-US jurisdictions will account for an increasing percentage of that growth.

Some statistics

I wrote 216 blog posts in 2011 plus shorter ones on a new Google Plus page of which I will say more below. With a few days to go to the end of the year, I have had just over 68,000 page views, an average of 192 page views per day including weekends and holidays. The total number of blog posts is now 968 and they have between them attracted 228,680 views in what remains a niche market. I have over 1,000 Twitter followers and my tweet total stands at over 6,700 including many retweets of industry news created by others.

I spoke at seventeen public conferences in addition to private events, webinars and videos. I travelled nearly 90,000 miles, visiting the US (five times), Germany (four times), Singapore (twice), Hong Kong, Australia, Ireland and France, in addition to events in England. Read the rest of this entry »


Twitter and Technology-Assisted Document Review – the downside of uninformed prejudice

December 21, 2011

A report on the future of document review reaches me via Twitter. The spirit which ignores or condemns social media as a business tool matches the spirit which many lawyers show towards modern methods of document review. I yield to no-one in the strength of my prejudices on a wide range of subjects, but one must at least review one’s prejudices from time to time if the fate of one’s business turns on seeing round them.

I have to say that I had not come across the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) before Katey Wood joined it earlier this year from The 451 Group. The defect is mine, not theirs, since a glance at their website shows them to be a long-established and broadly-based IT analyst and business strategy company. I do not know if they had any eDiscovery focus before Katey joined them, but they certainly have now.

I was tipped off to the results of their latest survey by a tweet pointing to a blog post by Katey – which is really the first point I want to make here. I get most of my information from Twitter – I do not mean that the sum total of my knowledge is made up of 140 character tweets, but that Twitter points me to articles, brings me news and opens the door to discussions and to introductions to people I might not otherwise meet. Much of what I “know” is acquired by a fairly cursory glance at a day’s tweets, picking up the subjects and themes without necessarily following the links for the detail.

Many lawyers sneer at this – generally the sort of people who once predicted that e-mail would never catch on and who mocked the idea of a corporate website. Business is won by personal connections, they say, overlooking how few truly personal connections any of us can have, and overlooking also the potential for a connection made via social media to turn into a proper business relationship, or the reverse – for a brief meeting at a lunch or conference to turn into an established connection via social media.

Those same people will be conducting document review for eDisclosure/eDiscovery in the way they have always done it, treating rumours of advancing technology, outsourcing and other methods of doing the job more cheaply with much the same disdain as they treat Twitter. There are other overlays as well – of nervousness of the unknown and of protectionism of the splendid fees which have historically come from document review. Read the rest of this entry »


Trans-Atlantic video panel: The differences in approaches to eDiscovery in the US and in Europe

December 19, 2011

The American Bar Association’s Section of Science and Technology Law organised a lunchtime panel session in Washington last week. Its topic was the differences in approaches to eDiscovery in the US and in Europe and how those differences might affect eDiscovery in an environment spanning national borders, e.g. the cloud. Whilst it is not unknown for me to cross the Atlantic to take part in a single conference session, I attended this one by video link.

This method of bringing people together was much touted at the beginning of the recession. The time and cost of air travel and hotels, it was said, would be prohibitive, and we would find by the end of the recession that video provided a perfectly adequate substitute. This prediction overlooked two points: one was that the cost of travel fell like everything else as airlines and hotels struggled to fill their seats and beds; the other was that there really is no substitute for human interaction, whether one to one in a bar or one to many from a conference podium. This one worked very well, and I would happily do more of them, but I am only equipped to talk to a US audience because I spend a lot of time each year in the US, soaking up my subject by talking to the people who practice it, or welcoming them to the UK.

There were two US panellists, US Magistrate Judge John Facciola and Judge Herbert Dixon of the Superior Court of DC. Stephen Mason, General Editor of the LexisNexis book Digital Evidence and a well-known speaker and writer on electronic evidence in many jurisdictions, was the other UK speaker. Bennett Borden, Chair of the eDiscovery and Information Governance Section of Williams Mullen was the moderator.

The video facilities were provided by Squire Sanders in London. Squire Sanders lists 36 offices in 17 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America on its website, with 13 languages to choose from when reading it. My only connection with Squire Sanders hitherto is that my photograph appears alongside that of a Squire Sanders partner on the Equivio website, and I know Stephen Goldstein, its director of practice support, who is an eloquent and effective advocate of technology at eDiscovery conferences. Read the rest of this entry »


An eDisclosure evening at Lord’s with Clearwell

December 19, 2011

It is quite hard to find suitable and accessible venues for what is, essentially, a talking session. The location, and any side attractions, must be interesting enough to be part of the draw, but you do not want them to dominate the occasion to the exclusion of the message you wish to convey.

Lord's Writing RoomThe Writing Room at Lord’s Cricket Ground is perfect, and made a great setting for an evening at which Robert Lewis of Barclays, Senior Master Whitaker and I talked to an audience invited by Clearwell about eDisclosure developments from the perspectives of judge and client.

I opened with some context. The eDisclosure Practice Direction and Electronic Documents Questionnaire have been in the Rules for just over a year. A recent speech by Lord Justice Jackson drew attention to a pending new Rule 31.5 whose effect would be (amongst other things) to remove the default of standard disclosure and replace it with a “menu option” which would require the judge to consider what disclosure was actually necessary and proportionate for the case. In the same speech, Lord Justice Jackson had criticised the legal profession saying that “relatively few solicitors and even fewer barristers really understand how to undertake eDisclosure in an effective way.” This had been reported in an article headed Top Beak: ignorant lawyers fumble electronic evidence, which is as good a way to putting it as any other.

We had had two relevant cases. In Omni Laboratories Inc v Eden Energy Ltd a party used the pre-trial review, eight weeks before a ten day trial, to make a major specific disclosure application, incurring £47,000 in its own costs (I have written about it here). In Mortgage Agency Services Number Four Limited v Alomo solicitors, the defendant was punished in indemnity costs for running up unnecessary costs for its opponent and exceeding costs estimates. Although not narrowly an eDisclosure case, the principles of case management and of lawyer conduct were increasingly likely to arise in and eDisclosure context (my article about this case is here).

eDisclosure was increasingly seen as an end-use of information governance. Litigants, and in particular those who litigated often, would find the courts increasingly intolerant of excuses which depended on their own poor information management, particularly if the result was a waste of court time and an increase in the costs incurred by other parties. Symantec’s acquisition of our hosts, Clearwell, was symptomatic of this increasing focus on a continuum from document retention and management through to eDisclosure. Read the rest of this entry »


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