I was at a Washington conference for much of the week ending 22 September and the updates for that week are correspondingly reduced in number. This selection covers two weeks’ of my Google+ updates. Some of them relate to webinars etc which were pending at the time of the G+ notice but whose date has passed by the time the summary is published. In many cases, the link will take you to a recording.
This adopts my experimental new format which bundles my Google Plus posts for a period (not necessarily a fixed period) and makes their text available here, together with links to the G+ posts, to the source and to some of the names mentioned in the post.
In Re: Actos – Does New Federal Litigation Clarify Predictive Coding In eDiscovery?
Article by Matt Nelson of Symantec concludes that the answer to the question posed above is “no” because:
While Actos represents another step in the evolution of predictive coding, the protocol explained in the Order does not provide enough transparency to ensure the overall integrity of the predictive coding process.
Published: 2 September 2012
______________________________ Read the rest of this entry »
kCura’s growth prompts thoughts about how companies and industries (and empires and whole civilisations come to that) start and grow, and how they must keep moving forward to stay at the top.
The accepted wisdom, promoted by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant for E-Discovery Software of May 2011, is that there will be no new entrants into the eDiscovery / eDisclosure software market. A number of factors appear to support this idea: the cost of entry is too high; corporate counsel and law firms are, in general, looking to reduce the number of providers with whom they work; whilst the technology improves every year, the improvements are refinements of a by now fairly standard set of core technologies, with attention focused on wringing more speed, more accuracy, and greater usability out of them; the trend is towards consolidation, as players merge or acquire each other, and any new players will come in by buying an existing one; there are not enough skilled people to float a new eDiscovery player; the emphasis is on better ways of meeting clients’ objectives, of becoming more consultative and of improving both the user experience and support rather than on inventing new technology.
It would be foolish, of course, to look too far ahead in this as in any technology-driven industry. I live by a canal, for example, which, when it was completed in 1790, was the last word in transport infrastructure, the latest venture in a short and intensive spate of development which had underpinned fast industrial and sociological change, making it possible for the first time to bring food, fuel and raw materials into the cities which grew as a result, and to carry the products of the factories out to new markets. On the other side of my house is the railway, which reached Oxford 50 years later and made the canal more or less redundant overnight. Over the next 120 years, railway technology barely changed – engines became faster and more reliable, and infrastructure and safety were improved, but the pioneers would have recognised the railways which they invented right down to the point when they were wiped out in their turn by cars, trucks and buses. Other industries show similar patterns.
Much the same happens with companies. New players appear, work hard at developing new ideas and grow, becoming, perhaps, the industrial giants of their time, before either falling apart under their own, by then ponderous, weight, or being overtaken by more agile rivals. The history of the British Empire followed the same pattern, and it seems likely that the supremacy of the whole Western world is going the same way. Furthermore, the wheels are turning faster, and one can go from nothing to domination and back again in a very short space. Longevity lies in constant reinvention and in retaining the ability to keep the freshness of youthful success whilst expanding and prospering.
I have not looked back at my archive, but I suspect that I have written in these terms before about kCura, the makers of the Relativity eDiscovery software for analysis, review and production. The earliest reference I made to Relativity was in July 2008, when I first met its founder and CEO, Andrew Sieja. He came to see me in Oxford, and we walked up the canal and by the railway which gave me the parallels which appear above. If I had had any spare money, I think I would have invested in kCura on the strength of his ambition to make it succeed. It was not the technology which would have parted me from my money – Andrew may have known where that was going, but I certainly did not – but the ambitious yet wholly credible roadmap. This is what I said at the time: Read the rest of this entry »
Arguments continue as to the value of Google Plus as a FaceBook rival. I don’t much care about that, only about its ability to attract wider audiences. It is working for me (well, something is) and I continue to put short posts on my Google Plus page, cross-linked both from occasional summary posts here and from my web site.
Quite apart from the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) value, this allows me to cover a wide range of subjects and pick up more of the many useful articles which come by without triggering an email to my Blog subscribers with every addition.
Recent additions on Google Plus include the following:
An article by US lawyer and eDiscovery expert Jon Resnick of Applied Discovery has application in UK proceedings as well as in the US. Who on your side actually understands where the client’s data is and what is involved in collecting it?
I got an e-mail last night from Geoffrey Lambert in Melbourne whose opening line read simply “Stakhanovite!”. That, as many of you will know, is shorthand for “You have produced a lot today” and implicitly compared my published output (in fact the accumulation of several days’ dictation) with the work of Alexey Stakhanov who, on 19 September 1935, was reported as having mined 227 tonnes of coal in a single shift at the Ukraine city the which is now named after him. His accolades for this feat included the Order of Lenin and having his photograph on the cover of Time Magazine. Some said that the output may not have been entirely down to Stakhanov alone, but the feat was taken up by the USSR marketing machine as evidence of its citizens’ commitment to productivity.
I knew of Stakhanov, but looked him up anyway and then turned to the next item on my to-do list, a commentary on an article by Jon Resnick, Worldwide Vice President Field Operations and Marketing for Applied Discovery. Jon too is a man of prodigious output, with regular articles both on Applied Discovery’s blog and on the company’s Weekly Snapshot which, as I said in a recent article, is one of the more useful and comprehensive sources of regular eDiscovery information. An article by him also appeared on the Forbes web site recently. I have no idea if, as was said of Stakhanov, Jon has a team of willing helpers to do the research and proof-reading which is the writer’s equivalent of opening the seams and carrying away the coal – if so, perhaps he could lend me one, since the volume of material to write about at the moment far exceeds the time available to do it, and I don’t have a large marketing operation to run in addition, as Jon does. All in all, Jon Resnick (in the top photograph below) deserves the comparison with Alexey Stakhanov (the lower photograph) more than I do. Read the rest of this entry »
It can be quite difficult keeping up with those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project, quite apart from the wider eDiscovery/eDisclosure market. Some of them seem to assume that I pick up news by some magical process; others broadcast little because they are just getting on with an increasing flow of work; yet others have so much news that it is hard to keep up with them. In parallel with market news comes an ever-denser flow of information and discussion about rules and cases, plus thoughtful analysis of the directions we should be going in to improve the eDiscovery process. It all gets filtered at this end anyway, not so much by my subjective view of what is important but because I feel I owe you more than merely copying and pasting press releases; that inevitably reduces the number of articles in a week, even without the interruption of six weeks’ near-continuous travel such as I have just completed.
Equivio sends out a regular update and keeps its press releases in good order on its website – perhaps this is what one should expect from a company which specialises in making it easy to find the information you actually want. Equivio also keeps what it calls an Installed Base page – the “growing list” referred to in my title. LDM Global similarly keeps me well informed, and nobody keeps up a better flow of information, both about its own activities and about the wider eDiscovery world, than Applied Discovery.
For today’s purposes, Equivio provides the connection between these very different companies. Equivio’s Relevance product is its contribution to the predictive coding, or Technology Assisted Review, market which is as significant in discussions about rules and procedure as it is in pure market terms. I will not stop here to explain why this technology, in its various forms from a growing number of providers, is exciting debate – I write about it a lot, and an article called Search, Forward by US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck (free registration required) suffices to explain why it is important (type the word “predictive” into the search box opposite for my own heavily hyperlinked articles on the subject).
Equivio was producing the tools to identify and eliminate duplicative and redundant data long before Equivio>Relevance was born, and was already well-known for its near-duplicate and e-mail threading software. These remain critical components in accelerating the review process by grouping together documents with common characteristics so that they can be reviewed together and, where appropriate, tagged en bloc. You do not need great technical knowledge as a lawyer conducting document review to appreciate the value of putting under one hand all documents whose content is very similar or which form part of the same e-mail thread. Read the rest of this entry »
The dust is settling on the debate aroused by the John Markoff article in the New York Times of 4 March headed Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software. We can’t have that, so I thought I would keep the ball in play for a bit with a round-up of some of the comment stirred by the article. The consensus, for those in too much of a hurry to get to the end, is that the skills matter more than technology, as long as those skills include the ability to choose the right technology for the case.
As with all good journalism, the basic premise of the NYT article appears from the heading – technology is advancing at such a rate that the expensive (and profitable) contribution made to electronic discovery / disclosure by lawyers will become unnecessary. Computers, so the argument runs, will perform searches more efficiently, more reliably and at significantly lower cost than lawyers can achieve, so the demand for lawyer hours will decrease significantly with a consequent reduction in employment prospects for lawyers.
To recap, Ralph Losey was the first out of the traps with a contrary view. His article was headed NY Times Discovers eDiscovery, but Gets the Job Report Wrong. New, highly-skilled jobs will appear, he said, and the vast increase in electronic material will counter-balance new ways of increasing productivity; a wider range of cases will need this wider range of new skills. I took much the same line in my article King Ludd and the Lawyers – e-Discovery and the Luddite Fallacy which gave a quick tour of C19th economic history and listed a range of largely non-technical and non-legal skills such as project management. Steven Levy’s article Watson Takes on E-Discovery covered the change–adoption curve and suggested that the mere appearance of such an article in the NYT marked a transition from the innovators to the early adopters. Read the rest of this entry »