Huron Legal kicks off LegalTech with the Commonwealth Brunch

January 29, 2012

For several years now, Nigel Murray, MD of Huron Legal in London, has organised what used to be called the British Brunch, now the Commonwealth Brunch. For many of us, it marks the opening of LegalTech.

What marks it out from the many other events taking place here is that it is non-partisan, and attended by a mixture of people from software and services providers, law firms and others for whom a Commonwealth origin, residence or place of business is the qualification for being there. It is also an event at which wives and children are welcome, and my wife Mary Ann and son Charlie came along too.

The photographs below if you the general idea, as well as showing (at least for those who know the people) that there is a strong UK contingent here again.

It feels, perhaps, like the final relaxation before we move forward to the trenches for tomorrow’s three-day battle. The Hilton here on 6th Avenue is quickly filling up with familiar faces. Many thanks, as always, to Nigel Murray and Laura Kelly for organising this much appreciated annual event.

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Recommind keeps the good news coming

January 27, 2012

It is barely a fortnight since I reported on Recommind‘s coup in appointing Nick Patience as Director of Product Marketing and Strategy. Since then, Recommind’s name has turned up more often than I can keep pace with.  I put it that way because I try to leave space between multiple references to the same provider, which becomes difficult when a lot of separate stories emerge at once.  Only one of the stories, a product announcement, is LegalTech-specific; the rest seem just to have happened along at the same time.

If I group them together now, that will this leave space for whatever comes along after LegalTech.

Axcelerate eDiscovery 4.3

The fact that Recommind is amongst the leaders (in time terms as well as in reputation) in the technology known as predictive coding, may obscure the fact that its roots are in broader information management software and that the predictive coding component is but a part of its overall eDiscovery offering. The technology originally developed for broader search and categorisation has two eDiscovery components, Axcelerate ECA and Collection and Axcelerate Review and Analysis, which between them perform the functions implicit in their names.  Axcelerate On-Demand extends the same capabilities into the cloud and, as again its name implies, is available without in-house installation – like tomorrow, if you need it.

Axcelerate eDiscovery 4.3 introduces new seamless management capabilities across the entire process. The press release quotes Woods Abbott, Senior Manager of Legal Operation / eDiscovery at Raytheon, as praising not just the processing and workflow capability but, crucially, the sampling tools which are a big part of the battle to convince lawyers that they retain control of the decision-making. Read the rest of this entry »


AccessData releases all-new version of Summation

January 27, 2012

AccessData was not in a hurry to bring out its all-new version of the Summation line of eDiscovery products.  The company already had a 20-year history in digital investigations when it bought Summation iBlaze, Enterprise and CaseVantage towards the end of 2010. It was a product-line with a long history and a very large user-base and, when I spoke to them at the time, AccessData were under no illusions as to the work which would be needed to bring the product range up to date.

It must have been tempting to rush the job as new players entered the market, but AccessData resisted the temptation in order to make sure that, when it came, the relaunched Summation would hold its own with the competition. I have not seen it yet, but it looks as if they have made a thorough job of it. To quote from their own description:

Summation offers both comprehensive early case assessment capabilities – data ingestion, processing, culling, export with load file creation and first pass review – and final review features – search, annotation, redaction, production tools and transcript support – in one product. This integration means that users can move data from the ECA stage directly to final review without creating a load file, exporting or re-processing. In fact, all stakeholders from IT to in-house teams to outside counsel can efficiently and securely collaborate in a single platform.

That page includes a summary of the main features and links to product brochures. Read the rest of this entry »


Information Governance, UK eDisclosure and International Discovery in three days

January 27, 2012

In an ideal world, I would keep the week before LegalTech free.  Product announcements pour out with accompanying (and welcome) invitations in advance to find out about the new developments (that is preferable, incidentally, to those who make big announcements and assume that I will pick up on them). The diary needs constant adjustment as I ditch optional LegalTech sessions in favour of fitting in meetings. My own LegalTech sessions (of which more below) require preparation. Computers, cameras, address books need preparatory attention, and reference papers must be copied somewhere accessible. A week away involves boring domestic details of shirts and shoes and suits, and you just can’t get the servants these days.

Just the week, all in all, to have a big webinar to moderate, a seminar to lead in the North of England and an invitation to speak at a conference in Brussels on three consecutive days.  And in the middle of all that, the EU commission announces a re-revised data protection regulation just as I have finished reading the 116 page leaked version.

Two consequences follow. One is this, a compendium article (which I rarely do) pulling together multiple threads as an alternative to overlooking them all. The other is that I have undoubtedly missed things which I would normally have caught. For the avoidance of doubt (and conscious as I am of a rough duty of balance in what I write) the difference between things I have covered and things I have not written about is one of timing rather than any perceived priority of importance.  if the news broke whilst I was in an aeroplane or under the Channel, then I may have missed it. Read the rest of this entry »


Nuix Webinar: The Convergence of eDiscovery and Information Governance

January 24, 2012

I am moderating an Inside Counsel live webinar for Nuix with the title The Convergence of eDiscovery and Information Governance on Tuesday 24 January at 1pm to 2pm EST / 10am to 11am PT / 6:00pm to 7:00pm GMT.

The panel members are Craig Ball, Stephen Stewart and David Cowen, whose details appear on the registration page.

Much of the eDiscovery discussion in 2012 is about applications and techniques for reducing the volume of discoverable information in the context of some triggering event, whether litigation which the company is engaged in or which it has reason to expect, a regulatory intervention, or an internal investigation. If this was not clear already, the pre-LegalTech spate of announcements about predictive coding / technology assisted review leaves no one in doubt about the importance of developing sophisticated and intelligent ways of culling down data.

That needs first-rate software tools, but it also needs the right people to make the right decisions about what to leave out and what must be kept. A set of skills has developed in the eDiscovery context which crosses the legal and IT boundaries and which includes both an understanding of the obligations and the ability to use search tools, analytic tools, and processing power to discriminate quickly and safely between important things and unimportant things and the shades which lie between them. Read the rest of this entry »


Revival of UK Litigation Support Technology Group – LiST – with meeting on 24 January

January 23, 2012

There is a meeting of LiST – the Litigation Support Technology Group – at Allen & Overy at 5:00pm tomorrow, Tuesday 24 January. This is a welcome revival.

The Litigation Support Technology Group is a UK think tank, formed in 2003 by a group of litigation support specialists whose aim was to encourage and develop a uniform approach to the use of technology in litigation. It produced drafts of a practice direction, a technology questionnaire, a data exchange protocol and a revised disclosure statement which did much to advance thinking about the procedures and documents needed to make electronic disclosure more efficient.

The self-given label “think tank” implied, and deliberately so, that LiST was a gathering of the knowledgeable. Its members were those with practical experience of managing electronic data and, specifically, of managing the expectations of opposing parties, separating contention about facts and issues from the mechanics of disclosure and exchange. Its work, and specifically its drafting experience, contributed significantly to the 2010 eDisclosure Practice Direction and Electronic Documents Questionnaire.

Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy who is, as I am, a member of Senior Master Whitaker’s working party which drafted the Practice Direction, has long wanted to revive LiST now that the practice direction is in the rules with more prominence and detail than its predecessor PD.

The aim is a steering committee approach, with members contributing to working groups designed to share experiences, to identify what works and does not work in the way firms work together, and to give members the opportunity to meet each other – it is very much easier to work with someone constructively if you have at least met them.

The criteria for membership are (and I quote) that “the candidate should be personally involved in the day to day practice of dealing with ESI for dispute resolution or regulatory purposes and be employed by a law firm, a Government agency or within a litigation support department (or similar) of a commercial organisation”.

The first meeting of the reinvigorated LiST is to be held tomorrow, Tuesday 24 January, at 5.00pm at the offices of Allen & Overy. LiST’s Honorary President, Senior Master Whitaker, will address the meeting.

Contact Jo Eates Jo.eates@allenovery.com or Vince Neicho Vince.neicho@allenovery.com  for further information.

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Herb Roitblat on Ralph Losey on Search

January 21, 2012

Articles on search by OrcaTec’s Herb Roitblat are rare, but worth waiting for. I would much rather point you to his article, and to the articles by Ralph Losey to which they refer, than try and write them myself.

I have just been invited to contribute to a book about a subject which falls within my area of interest and competence, which would involve research and analysis of the kind that my training fits me for, and which would add lustre to my CV. I have declined the kind invitation with some regret. There is one overriding practical reason for this – there are only seven days in the week and I keep meeting the dog queueing for his breakfast on the stairs as I make my way to bed, so I am not sure where the extra hours would come from.

There is also a matter of writing style to be considered – the relatively free and easy prose which I use here and which is my “normal” writing style is not appropriate for a learned or academic work; self-publishing gives me the luxury of not having an editor peering over my shoulder, imposing deadlines, drawing attention to my omissions, and “correcting” my punctuation.

My niche is carefully chosen. I am not a journalist, so I do not generally have to work to somebody else’s timetable. I am not an analyst, so am spared the obligation to research and analyse primary material. The relevant case law involves practical things like breaches of what are, in truth, easily-understood rules rather than complex matters of contractual interpretation or tax statutes. I do not do system specifications, nor am I a user, so I do not purport to undertake the comparative analysis of one software application over another beyond a broad understanding of what each of them does. I am not a computer scientist or an expert in linguisitcs or statistics. My role is to pick out the essentials of all these things and try to dish them up in palatable form to a broad range of interest groups and skill levels, acting as a translator between people whose possibly deep skills in one area might exclude any knowledge of another.

I also have the significant advantage of belonging in a jurisdiction which does not make a religion out of the minutiae of eDiscovery procedure and the relevant technology. One of the reasons why English lawyers can be reasonably sure that the software they use, and the techniques which accompany it, are adequate for their obligations is that most of it has been through the fire of the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the no less onerous requirements of US regulators. One of the consequences of the US burdens is an upward spiral of technological sophistication and related thinking, as technology first meets the challenges and then, because it exists, raises the bar set by courts and regulators and by those who make discovery demands of others. That spawns a high level of jurisprudential and scientifically-based thinking and writing, the existence of which gives comfort to the journeyman lawyer who may not understand it all but who is glad to know that somebody else does. Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to Millnet as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project

January 20, 2012

It is a particular pleasure to welcome London-based eDiscovery / eDisclosure provider Millnet as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project. It is a company with which I have long-standing links and which has turned up in these pages from time to time, most significantly and recently for its involvement in one of the exercises which were the subject of my article Two predictive coding case studies emphasise time and cost savings.

Millnet has been around for more than 16 years. It began as a financial printing company, a business which continues to thrive along with reprographics and digital print. The litigation support function is led by James Moeskops whose past includes a stint dealing with graduate recruitment at one of the Big Four, so it is perhaps not surprising that he has a good eye for identifying the right people to support Millnet’s clients and to grow the business. I wrote recently about Charles Holloway, former litigation partner of whom I said:

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 [which Charles writes], is a regular and much-needed part of that translating mechanism.

That legal weight has just been supplemented by the appointment of John Lapraik, formerly a partner at Kennedys with responsibility for eDisclosure issues. John will provide eDisclosure and project management advice to clients as well is responsibility for Millnet’s internal processes. The addition of someone with relevant experience within a law firm is a sound move. Read the rest of this entry »


A further reminder about my Google Plus site

January 18, 2012

I have yet to do the necessary cross-linking between the various places in which I put eDiscovery information. At the moment, it makes more sense to push the stuff out there and worry in due course about making a cohesive whole out of it.

Various things come together here. One is that LegalTech New York starts  on 30 January. Many providers of eDiscovery software and services make announcements before or at LegalTech, and any ambition to capture them all is doomed to failure unless one is content with a copy/paste approach and has nothing else to do.

I am doing two sessions of my own there (one  on information governance with Nuix and a double session on cross-border eDiscovery with Huron Legal).  There is the usual problem of trying to make sure that I meet up with as wide a range of people as possible, in circumstances where pre-booking them all (as they sensibly would like for the  sake of their own diaries) necessarily limits the number of engagements which I can fit into a day and cuts me out of the ad hoc meetings which you get by just being around (you are not “around” if you are shut up in meeting rooms for three days). Read the rest of this entry »


Delay for Draconian Data Protection Regulation

January 18, 2012

The term “displacement activity” has a technical meaning in animal biology, something I am happy to leave to the animal biologists. The lay use of the term connotes some activity undertaken in order to avoid having to do something else which is both imminent and important. I spent most of the run-up to my College of Law exams, for example, writing stories and articles about things which interested me – anything to defer having to learn about trusts and torts.

I am fortunate that I eventually found a way to monetise my displacement activity, making a business out of writing stories and articles about things which interest me. Even now, however, it occasionally becomes necessary to focus on something inherently dull, and nothing can be duller than an EU regulation  (or, come to that, anything else which emanates from Brussels – even its scandals make one yawn). I was not therefore thrilled when someone leaked the draft texts of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive, because that imposed a duty to read at least the first of these. It runs to 116 pages in its English-language version, so it could, if you printed it, serve as a pillow when your eyelids start to droop, as they will about three pages in.

A quick skim took me to the usual bit which describes how many more EU bureaucrats will be needed to carry on the good work, and I closed it quickly in case I broke something in rage (in the interests of wider Anglo-EU understanding, I should tell you that the French for “pen-pusher” is “gratte-papier”). Read the rest of this entry »


Judge Peck and Mallesons in LTN Legal Technology Innovation Awards

January 16, 2012

Legal Technology News annually presents its LTN Innovation Awards for Outstanding Achievement by Legal Professionals in their Use of Technology. This year’s awards, to be presented on the first day of LegalTech, includes one to US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck as Champion of Technology. The most obvious example of the work which won Judge Peck this title is his article Search, Forward (free registration required), which made a clear and unambiguous case for using technology where it is appropriate to do so to bring down the expense, time and uncertainty of electronic discovery.

My article Judge Peck and Predictive Coding at the Carmel eDiscovery Retreat, reporting on a speech which covered the same ground, was the clear winner in terms of page views on my blog last year, passed on by those who recognised, as all of us did who were present at Carmel, that the ground was shifting under our feet, and in a good way, as he spoke.

His impact, however, goes very much wider than this one speech and article, and lies in countless appearances at seminars and on panels in the US and elsewhere, as well as the commitment to co-operative, proportionate and competent lawyering in his own court – shown most obviously in his William A Gross Construction case with its “wake-up call to the bar”. He also took part in my eDiscovery play in 2011 in both its New York and London versions, a stronger test of judicial character than merely of thespian talent.

What is important about Judge Peck’s role is that he is no tech-head, advocating the use of technology for its own sake. Like the other Magistrate Judges who are well-known in this area, what he says is firmly rooted in Rule 1 FRCP and “the just, speedy and inexpensive” purpose behind the rules.

Another of the LTN awards which catches the eye is the one for Large Law Firm which goes to Australian law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, a well-deserved recognition for the firm’s Applied Legal Technology Director, Michelle Mahoney, for her team and for a partnership which recognises the importance of technology in meeting its clients’ objectives.

There is a Reuters article about the awards here.

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Guidance Software Webinar – Migrating to the Cloud: Navigating the E-Discovery Challenges

January 13, 2012

Guidance Software has provided a link to a recording of a live webinar which went out to a large audience – perhaps not surprisingly given the subject-matter and the participants. Its self-explanatory title is Migrating to the Cloud: Navigating the E-Discovery Challenges.

Scott Carlson is a partner at Seyfarth Shaw whose practice is exclusively devoted to discovery and the issues it raises. I have personal experience of his eDiscovery knowledge because we have sat together as members of Guidance’s Strategic Advisory Board. Patrick Burke, Senior Director and Assistant General Counsel at Guidance Software, was the moderator at the first webinar I ever recorded, and someone I have shared platforms with in the US, the UK and Germany.

This webinar, introduced by Guidance Software’s Russ Gould, considers in a very practical way the e-Discovery challenges which are faced by corporations who have moved, or are planning to move, data and applications to the cloud.

The registration page is here.

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Recommind names Nick Patience as Director of Product Marketing and Strategy

January 13, 2012

I have just written an article which, amongst other things, referred to the difficulty which eDiscovery / eDisclosure providers face in recruiting appropriately skilled and experienced talent for what is, for many of them, a market which grows almost weekly. There was nothing deeply perceptive in my observation that their only options are to recruit from rivals in the same business or to induce talented people to cross over from another industry sector.

There are no limits as to where good people might come from, although an ex-civil servant might perhaps find the hours, the urgency and the need to make judgements rather daunting. A good brain, agility of thought, a focus on real objectives and the ability to get on with others are the prime qualifications, although knowledge and experience of the industry is an obvious asset.

Nick Patience, co-founder of 451 Research, meets all these criteria and more, and Recommind has taken him on as its Director of Product Marketing and Strategy. Few analysts and commentators in the information governance/eDiscovery fields have Nick’s depth of knowledge about the subject on both side of the Atlantic, perhaps because he has worked on both sides. Read the rest of this entry »


Nuix snaps up Jim Kent as MD for Europe as 7Safe falls to PA Consulting

January 13, 2012

Looking at my headline for this article, I see that its necessary brevity includes two implied assumptions, neither of which is necessarily accurate. The “as” which connects the two halves of the headline (“Nuix snaps up… as 7Safe falls”) implies that one of the two events (and it could be either) was a consequence of the other, whereas this could be a coincidence (a similar point arose when Jack Halprin moved from Autonomy to Google seconds before the HP-Autonomy acquisition was announced). The shorthand expression “falls to” implies reluctance (the expression properly belongs in the world of hostile bids), whereas this may, for all I know, be the culmination of a long term strategy.

It is only when you come to write headlines that you see how boxed-in you are by the need both to catch the eye and to maximise the power of Google’s indexes. A completely different impression could have been given by reversing the order of the words – “PA consulting snaps up 7Safe as Jim Kent falls to Nuix as MD Europe” would give a completely different emphasis.

Back to the stories. Nuix is a fast-growing provider of eDiscovery, electronic investigation and information governance software. It has the same problem as every other major player in the eDiscovery / eDisclosure market – there are not enough good people out there with the appropriate skills to give clients the support and advice that they need. There is not time for them to grow their own and, in any event, the grey hairs of experience are in shortest supply. They can be found only by recruiting from rivals or from other sectors. Read the rest of this entry »


Forbes article: Technology assisted eDiscovery and the role of humans

January 11, 2012

I bring a fairly jaundiced eye to some of the marketing by those who sell technology solutions to lawyers. This is not so much to do with the quality of the marketing materials themselves but more to do with their approach to the psychology of those to whom the marketing is addressed. To some extent, a mismatch is unavoidable: the technology pitch is that it saves lawyer time, and lawyers live by selling time; much of eDiscovery validation depends on statistics and probability, and lawyers are largely arts graduates; there is good reason for fear, uncertainty and doubt in the management of discovery and it is unsurprising that providers trade on this as part of their pitch, often at the expense of more positive messages.

Deeper fears are touched by the implication that technology can do certain tasks better than humans can do them. It comes across as a threat to jobs at a time when many lawyers are out of work already; it appears to mock the years of expensive learning and the large qualification debts; it seems to threaten the central role which lawyers have traditionally had in the litigation process as functions are increasingly delegated to what is seen as a black box, and are challenged by new business models. There is something in all of this, and the New York Times article of March last year Armies of expensive lawyers, replaced by cheaper software, stoked fears which certainly had some substance. Read the rest of this entry »


CY4OR buys eOrigin and takes Nick Pollard to lead its eDisclosure department

January 11, 2012

I am not generally much bothered about capturing breaking news, preferring to let it simmer a while before I pass it on.

Yesterday’s announcement that CY4OR has acquired eOrigin and taken founder Nick Pollard onto its management team to manage its eDiscovery department is, however, worth passing on straight away. For the moment, I have little to add to the what is said on CY4OR’s blog and on eOrigin’s website, but I am seeing CY4OR’s Bethan Williams and Nick Pollard in London next week and will find out more then.

eOrigin last appeared in these pages at the beginning of December as the Digital Reef partner who won Digital Reef’s deal with BDO LLP – see UK accountancy firm BDO LLP selects Digital Reef for its eDiscovery work. CY4OR turn up here quite often as I pass on their useful suggestions for both reactive and anticipatory control of data forensics and disclosure.

I will come back with more about this story shortly.

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Lord Justice Jackson to give the SCL Annual Lecture – Reforming the Civil Justice System

January 9, 2012

On 26 March, Lord Justice Jackson will give the SCL Annual Lecture 2012 with the title “Reforming the Civil Justice System“. The venue is the offices of Allen & Overy at One Bishops Square, London E1 6AD, and the event starts at 6:30pm.

I will, unfortunately, not be there – I have tried to work out if I can get back from Brussels in time to attend, but it can’t be done.

The details and registration information are here.

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Plenty happening in eDiscovery for the beginning of 2012

January 8, 2012

If Friday’s flurry of activity on my Google+ page and on Twitter suggests catch-up and deck-clearing then that is exactly what it was. The Google+ page was set up for short snippets which, whatever weight they actually deserved, were not going to get a lovingly-polished and fully hyperlinked blog post. They are a way of expanding on my tweets, re-tweets and favourites; the full rationale for this is set out in my post New eDisclosure Information Project page on Google Plus for short eDiscovery posts.

The deck-clearing was needed for two reasons in addition to the obvious wish not to miss good content. The planning calls have started for forthcoming webinars and conferences, and I wanted the weekend clear for follow-ups to them, for other things which need prolonged concentration and for planning for that annual quart-into-a-pint-pot, the LegalTech calendar – I know I will not make it to most of the sessions I mark down, but it seems respectful to try. As today’s posts show, Friday morning’s catch-up was rather defeated by Friday afternoon’s new announcements.

It is perhaps worth setting out what January’s events are, pulling together posts which I have already written about them.

ESIBytes podcast on the New York Model Rules

I am taking part in a podcast recording on Monday 9 January organised by Karl Schieneman of ESIBytes. The subject is the Pilot Project regarding Case Management Techniques for Complex Civil Cases in the Southern District of New York. The more important participants are Ariana Tadler from Milberg and Maura Grossman from Wachtell Lipton who were involved in the Pilot Project.  My role is to talk about the UK’s eDisclosure Practice Direction 31B and the Electronic Documents Questionnaire annexed to it. Whilst the UK was the first to formalise the structured exchange of information in advance of a case management conference, those of us who drafted it were influenced by the lessons, positive and negative, coming out of the FRCP meet and confer process. This iterative exchange of ideas is valuable beyond the two jurisdictions taking part in this podcast. Read the rest of this entry »


FTI’s take on 2012 – fewer eDiscovery suppliers per company and more people with “Discovery” in their job title

January 8, 2012

I talked on Friday to FTI Technology’s Mike Kinnaman, to catch up with FTI’s view of the eDiscovery market in the coming year. FTI takes what you might call an evidence-based approach to prediction each year, asking Ari Kaplan to collect, aggregate and comment on the views and experiences of in-house counsel at the higher end of the eDiscovery market. That approach, Mike Kinnaman said, tells FTI where the market is going and “takes a bit of the fuzz off the crystal ball”.

Most of what emerged in 2011 is consistent with earlier trends and unsurprising: early case assessment as a process continues to be important as a way to get better control of cases and their costs; there is a sharp focus on the cost of the legal review; and the use of managed review services has remained consistent after a steady rise, appreciated not just for keeping costs down but for making them more predictable. Read the rest of this entry »


LexisNexis sells Applied Discovery to Siris Capital

January 8, 2012

Applied Discovery logoI noticed at the end of last year that Applied Discovery’s avatar on Twitter had changed, the big red ball of its LexisNexis owner being replaced by a parallelogram with an @ symbol in it. The same symbol appeared at the top of Applied Discovery’s Weekly eDiscovery Snapshot  published on Friday. I filed that unread because I was in the middle of a run of conference calls, and so missed the significant announcement which modestly appeared below the commentary by Jon Resnick, who featured recently in these pages as eDiscovery’s equivalent of Stakhanov.

During my first call, I noticed that Twitter had become unusually active. When I looked at it in between calls I learnt that LexisNexis had sold Applied Discovery to Siris Capital Group. It takes a certain amount of style to tuck an announcement like that at the end of what appeared to be a routine summary of eDisclosure developments.

I dashed off a quick congratulatory e-mail to Jon Resnick and by the time my next call had ended, there was further news – Ramana Venkata, who founded Stratify in 1999 is to be the CEO of the newly independent Applied Discovery.

I have arranged to speak to Jon Resnick next week, something which was on my list anyway – last summer’s integration of Equivio Relevance into Applied Discovery’s Leverage suite has been running long enough for a status update. More on this in due course.

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Equivio near duplicate and e-mail threads integrated into Relativity

January 8, 2012

Equivio and kCura have got in ahead of the LegalTech announcements flurry by launching an Equivio tab In Relativity. “Integration” means just that – Relativity users access Equivio’s analytic functionality without either they or the data leaving Relativity.

The words “efficient” and “seamless” appear in the press release from Equivio and in Relativity’s product information page. Quite apart from the benefits to the user experience, the integration should mean that future developments by both companies should be easily absorbed.

This is one of kCura’s growing number of Ecosystem Applications which include Digital Reef, EnCase eDiscovery by Guidance Software, Nuix , Trident Pro from Wave Software and audio and video forensic search by Nexidia. The Ecosystem was only launched last July, and Relativity’s pulling power continues unabated, with further integrations promised shortly.

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ILTA Insight in London 8 to 9 May 2012

January 4, 2012

ILTA, the International Legal Technology Association, works throughout the year to advance and share knowledge of legal technology developments, priding itself rightly on its peer to peer relationships between members. It has a major conference in the US each year – my main report on the 2011 event at Nashville was called ILTA 2011 – the end of the beginning? We’re just getting going and took its cue and its headline from a quotation given by Andrew Sieja of kCura in a pre-conference interview.

I also devoted a post The Needle on the Broken Record – why UK Law Firms should go to US Legal Conferences to the broader subject of the reasons why law firms should be ready to face threats from other players.

As I say in those articles, ILTA and its conferences have a great value for non-US lawyers – there is more commonality than difference in the business of using technology to work more efficiently, and ILTA’s remit is much wider than eDiscovery / eDisclosure. The point is not just to do as US lawyers do, but to anticipate, and fend off what I described the the Broken Record article in these terms:

The businesses competing for these distributed functions [the former provinces of law firms] will include Ernst & Young and its peers, and the likes of FTI ConsultingHuron Legal and Integreon who will be happy to leave the pure law to the lawyers whilst gradually supplanting them for everything else…..the legal consulting firms are out there mingling with the people who are driving new ways of delivering business, with those law firms who are looking to the future, and with the technology providers who will be their allies in producing the tools for new ways of working. Shouldn’t you be there too? Read the rest of this entry »


A proper welcome to Xerox XLS as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project

January 3, 2012

The logo of Xerox Litigation Services – XLS appeared here shortly before I set off on last October’s race from continent to continent. I wrote a brief welcome at the time but wanted to find out more about the company’s litigation software and services before writing a fuller article. I have now had the opportunity of speaking to Senior Classification Analyst Amanda Jones, of hearing an excellent webinar which she gave with Cleary Gottlieb, and of meeting up in Oxford just before Christmas with COO Chris O’Brien and with Chris Stephens who looks after client services for XLS in the UK. I am, accordingly, now equipped to write properly about what XLS has to offer.

This post covers what XLS does by reference to its web site, reports on my conversation with Amanda Jones and the webinar, explains the UK set-up and, not least, gives advance notice of a US-UK judicial round-table at LegalTech in New York.

The Xerox XLS Software and Services

You can deduce a certain amount about XLS from the mere fact that it employs a Senior Classification Analyst. The emphasis which appears from the website, from my conversations and from the webinar, is on supplementing the skills of the legal team with a combination of hosted software solutions and professional skills in a way which keeps the lawyers in charge of the process whilst taking away those parts – which will vary from client to client – which the lawyers do not want to do, may not have the skills or equipment for, or which can be done better and at lower cost by delegation to XLS. The recurring theme is one of maximising lawyer input where it counts. Read the rest of this entry »


EDisclosure Seminar in Manchester with Hobs Legal Docs on 25 January

January 3, 2012

I am pleased to be taking part in an eDisclosure seminar called eDisclosure after Goodale and the Practice Direction in the company of Terry Harrison of Hobs Legal Docs in Manchester on 25 January. The event runs from 6:00pm to 8:00pm and is followed by cocktails and canapés.

This is an invitation-only event. One might be procured by telephoning (0151) 709 1344 or by e-mail to rebecca.wilcox@hobsrepro.com There is a LinkedIn events page covering this seminar here.

I have just seen the invitation, a very fine “stiffie” bearing the logo is not only of Hobs itself but of HSBC, whose regional office is providing the venue, and of HM the Queen – Hobs Reprographics plc is a holder of the Royal warrant.

The eDisclosure Practice Direction PD31B has been in force for more than a year and Senior Master Whitaker’s judgment in Goodale v the Ministry of Justice goes back to November 2009. The practice direction, properly used, is a sensible and practical guide to efficient and cost-effective electronic disclosure; its Electronic Documents Questionnaire is a structured way of exchanging information, whether in advance of the case management conference or subsequently, as a means of finding common ground and identifying points of difference so that the court can make an informed decision where agreement cannot be reached. The words “properly used” are chosen advisedly – the PD is not a weapon, nor is it a device for increasing the burdens of eDisclosure. If you can identify, by transparency and cooperation, which documents are worth having and which are not, using an informed estimate of both their value and the costs of extracting them, then there is time and money to be saved, justifying the investment in completing the questionnaire. This is information which you ought to have anyway on your own side, and collecting it from the other side is immensely helpful.

Goodale remains the best example of a judge taking a practical grip on the scope of disclosure, steering a line between (in this case) the excessive demands of the claimant and the very limited proposals of the defendant. The judgment acts also as authority for the proposition that some documents are more important than others and that a focus on them (whilst preserving anything else which may be relevant) may resolve a case without the need for broad disclosure of material which may be potentially disclosable but which adds nothing to a just disposal of the case, whether by settlement or by trial.

Goodale is the source also of a judicial pronouncement to the effect that the use of technology is vital for reducing the volumes to be reviewed on both sides. This theme appears also in Lord Justice Jackson’s Review of Litigation Costs and in the Practice Direction which expressly requires parties to discuss the use of technology.

Regional firms have opportunities here. The use of technology generally obviates the need for large teams and puts an emphasis on skilful and intelligent use of the rules. Anyone can play – you do not need to be a giant firm in London to be good at this.

It has always been my plan to spend more time in the UK regions in 2012, without decreasing the number of international venues. Hobs Legal Docs and HSBC have given us an event and a venue for a cracking start to the year.

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European Data Protection: Coming of Age – Brussels 25–27 January 2012

January 3, 2012

The Fifth International Computers, Privacy and Data Protection Conference takes place in Brussels between 25 and 27 January 2012 under the title European Data Protection: Coming of Age.

Monique Altheim of The Law Office of Monique Altheim is organising and moderating eDiscovery sessions on Thursday 26 January. I am on the panel, together with several others including James Daley of Daley & Fey LLP, Willem Debeuckelaere of the Belgian Privacy Commission and the Article 29 Working Party, Amor Esteban of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, Dominic Jaar of KPMG, Nigel Murray of Huron Legal, George Rudoy of Integrated Legal Technology LLC, and Master Steven Whitaker of the Royal Courts of Justice.

Between us, we will cover eDiscovery rules and regulations relating to basic principles such as preservation, litigation hold, the EDRM and spoliation, we will look in a practical way at problems arising from cross-border eDiscovery in the EU, and will also cover newer trends such as predictive coding, social media and the cloud.

Electronic discovery is only one of the subjects covered during the three days. The full programme is available here.

A few days later, three of us from that panel – Nigel Murray, Master Whitaker and I – with others, will be speaking in a two-part session at LegalTech in New York run by Huron Legal with the title A GC’s Nightmare: a US eDiscovery Request into Europe. The other panellists are Craig Cannon of Bank of America, Rich Chandler of CB&I, US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas, Browning Marean of DLA Piper USVince Neicho of Allen & Overy, and Farrah Pepper of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

The world has moved on in the five years since I first started speaking about the conflict between US discovery and EU data protection and privacy. EU audiences are coming to see eDiscovery as more than just US legal imperialism; US lawyers and courts, at least those who attend LegalTech, are beginning to understand that data protection and privacy laws must be managed rather than trampled on. It is good to have the opportunity to speak to both audiences within a few days.

Brussels is easy to get to from London – indeed, it is easy from Manchester, which is where I will be on the night before our panel at a seminar with Hobs Legal Docs. Any lawyer, whether in-house or external, whose company or firm has any interests beyond its own postcode would do well to be there, and not just for the eDiscovery panel.

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Information Governance and eDiscovery for Energy – IQPC in London 17-19 January

January 3, 2012

This event has now been moved to 17-18 May 2012

IQPC has a three-day conference aimed specifically at the energy industry and those who advise it. Its strong list of speakers include three judges – Senior Master Whitaker from England and Wales, US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas from New York and Judge Dory Reiling, Vice President of the Amsterdam District Court. Other speakers come from major corporations from Europe and elsewhere, many of whom I have heard speak at other conferences. The web site is here and the agenda here.

There are workshops on 17 January and the conference itself is on 18 and 19 January. These conferences used to illustrate the divide between those responsible for information management within organisations and those involved in the obligations to disclose relevant information for litigation or regulatory purposes. That distinction is becoming blurred, at conferences as in real life, as information management is increasingly seen as a continuum in which discovery is built into the specification, not merely a contingency at the end.

My own panel is called Information Governance for Lawyers: is digital overload now the greatest risk management challenge facing in-house legal departments? The other panellists are Paul Salazar, senior counsel of Siemens AG and Patrick Wilkins, editor of European GC. The judicial panel is on day two. One of its published bullet points refers to the increasing expectation by the courts that companies will have an efficient and effective information management system. This is the corollary, perhaps, of the court users’ expectations that judges will handle their cases efficiently and effectively. If judges are responsible for managing cases then they have the right, and indeed the duty, to take into account the parties’ own ability to manage their information properly.

When you add these subjects to the hard-earned experience of those speakers who deal with information management issues in major corporations, the program adds up to an interesting and useful way to start the year.

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2011 – My Year in Pictures

January 1, 2012

You can skip the words and go straight to the pictures. Click on 2011 – A Year in pictures by Chris Dale for the Google+ display

I begin to think that I will not be able to sort out my photographs until I retire, not least because I have years’ worth which must be scanned from film. If digital photography makes the results easier to manage, it also encourages the taking of many more than one did in the days when every click cost money. My hobby is therefore like my professional subject, the management of electronic documents – the means of production has become so easy that we need effective governance policies to control it.

I took nearly 2300 photographs in 2011 or, rather, that is the quantity which survives my first-pass cull. They are big RAW files, 52 GB in overall volume, posing a data archiving issue of their own. They are the one inanimate thing which I would mourn if the house caught fire, and Google Docs is becoming my backup of last resort – a long-term exercise this, since Virgin Media’s upload speed is nearly as poor as its customer service.

The big improvement of 2011 is the photograph-sharing tools within Google Plus – not the only benefit of that significant new player in the business and personal cloud. The process which I adopt  (and there has to be a process, of course) has multiple stages, some of them automated. The Google+ collection is read from Google’s Picasa, giving the user a choice between a Picasa slide show and the Google+ endless roll. The latter has the significant advantage that you can scan down the collection very quickly in place of the linear review imposed by the slideshow format.

I am, of course, very lucky in the destinations to which my work takes me, quite apart from the good fortune of living on the edge of Port Meadow in Oxford and in having a mother who lives in one of the most beautiful parts of Suffolk.

This year’s collection is, as usual, a mixture of work and play – conference photographs mixed chronologically with ones taken for pleasure. The first few cover New York, Oxford, Suffolk, Macau, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Our children make a couple of appearances, at a gig and at graduation ceremonies. Those who work in international eDiscovery will recognise some of the judges and others seen on platforms or holding microphones. Some of these scenes are of the productions of my judicial play in New York and London which, as I said in my more formal review of the year, were my personal high-points of the conference year. Read the rest of this entry »


Oxford tramples on privacy with CCTV in taxis

January 1, 2012

Given that privacy is one of my professional subjects, it is interesting that my home city, Oxford, should be blazing a trail in trampling on privacy rights, with a compulsory scheme requiring taxis to make video and sound recordings of their passengers – the BBC story is here.

One of the expressed reasons for this is the protection of taxi drivers themselves, despite the fact that most of the taxi drivers are opposed to the scheme – not least, one supposes, because the cost of installing the equipment amounts to yet another tax on living imposed on businesses by pen-pushers who are themselves immune from commercial pressures. There are exceptions, of course, but English local authorities are generally staffed with low-grade troglodytes whose ability to comprehend anything falls far short of complex concepts like privacy, and who have gathered power in recent years far outstripping their abilities or intellectual capacities. Again, there are exceptions, even in Oxford, but the councillors who notionally lead such authorities tend to be very small people with delusions of their own importance.


Oxford is a breeding-ground for political and bureaucratic meddling as well as the home of the Clarendon Building, the Bodleian, the Emperors and the Sheldonian (Photo by Chris Dale)

The word “Regulation” in the title of Labour’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 somehow implies greater control over those who exercise powers of investigation. In fact, the act authorised even little drones from local authorities to make use of covert surveillance, and many of them set to with a will for what were often, according to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, “petty and vindictive” cases. Even Labour became concerned at the extent to which the paper-shufflers abused their powers, and new rules imposed some restrictions and authorisation procedures.

The compulsory use of CCTV in taxis represents a slightly different strand – Big Brother’s Little Helper may now have to ask his line manager before going through your dustbins, but remains free to impose his care and concern for your welfare, whether you like it or not. This is part of the stifling interference in every aspect of life which was so characteristic of the Labour years and which the coalition government has failed to cut back despite its promises – a drawback, perhaps, of having to appease the Liberal Democrats, whose solicitous care about us over-rides our expectations from both parts of their name – there is little which is either liberal or democratic about them, but I guess that “Redistributive, Anti-Business, Pro-European Control-Freaks” would not make a good campaigning label. Read the rest of this entry »


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