Discussing eDisclosure round the table at the Brewery

April 19, 2013

The fact that we enjoyed ourselves at the TGCI eDisclosure event in London did not make it any less of a serious forum for discussion. The round-table format, the complete absence of PowerPoint slides, and the invitation to delegates to interrupt as they wished made it an extremely lively and useful exercise.

There are a limited number of ways in which you can organise conferences and seminars aimed at dispensing information and promoting discussion about eDisclosure / eDiscovery. The conventional approach, a series of lectures and panels delivered from a podium or platform to delegates in rows of chairs, is ideal in many ways, particularly when the intention is dispensing information from the few to the many – that is what delegates generally expect, and I am told by someone who organises events across many different sectors that lawyers are not particularly interested in alternative formats – even government delegates look for more imaginative approaches.

I am not being critical here – I have no quarrel with the conventional approach and am rarely an enthusiastic participant in those events where you are divided into tables and given a whiteboard, a set of scenarios and some poor sap who must report back to the conference.  One approach I do like, which we are seeing more often, is the “led discussion” where we get down from our platforms, pull our seats into a circle and talk around a subject at the behest of a nominated group leader. Read the rest of this entry »

7th eDisclosure Forum in London on 15 November. Are you ready to benefit from the new eDisclosure rules?

October 30, 2012

The reforms consequent on Lord Justice Jackson’s recommendations will take effect in April 2013. A conference taking place in London on 15 November will focus on those which relate to eDisclosure, stressing the benefits which will flow to lawyers and clients and not merely the risks and burdens of compliance with new rules.

It is conventional, when new laws or rules are pending, to see warnings in lurid headlines about the consequences of being unready for the coming changes. Lawyers do this with their clients, of course, urging them to seek advice (from them, obviously) about the steps which must be taken, the policies which must be drafted, the training which must be given and the other preparations which must be made if the clients are not to take the high road to Sodom and Gomorrah when the new rules take effect.

It is easy to take the same line with lawyers themselves when court rules or imminent legislation will affect the way they work. We saw this when the eDisclosure Practice Direction 31B came into force in October 2010 with its obligations to discuss with opponents the sources of their clients’ data, the scope of the search, the tools and techniques which they intend to use to identify disclosable documents, and other things all preparatory to having a meaningful discussion with the judge at the CMC.  Many were content to wait until the problem arose, to take on the chin the criticism from their opponents and the judge and to learn the ropes on the job, as it were.

The reforms consequent on Lord Justice Jackson’s report on litigation costs are all to take effect on the same day, 1 April 2013. They are so broad in scope, and some of them are so contentious, that it is easy to miss those parts of the rule changes which directly affect case management generally and eDisclosure specifically.  Since they include closer judicial control of cases and an end to the generally relaxed approach which the courts have shown hitherto towards non-compliance with rules and orders, it might be a good idea to start finding out what the changes include.

There is more to the case management regime than the risk of punishment or being made to look a prat in front of court and client. Rule changes, both those of 2010 and those which are coming in April 2013, offer real advantages to lawyers who understand the rules, and to their clients. The 7th eDisclosure Forum, taking place in London on 15 November, is a one-day summary both of the rule changes and of the parts which offer opportunities to those who are ready for them. Read the rest of this entry »

Integration the target as Guidance Software buys CaseCentral

February 14, 2012

It was Twitter, of course, which first brought the news that Guidance Software had agreed to acquire CaseCentral.  The first tweet came so early that the Guidance web page announcing the deal was a blank placeholder; its page title confirmed that the story was true, but there was as yet no content. The tweets multiplied and the official Guidance Software announcement appeared shortly afterwards.

That announcement is here. The CaseCentral equivalent is here.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for eDiscovery Software, published in May 2011, opened with two “Strategic Planning Assumptions”:

By 2014, consolidation will have eliminated one in every four enterprise e-discovery vendors.
By 2013, software as a service (SaaS) and business process utilities will account for 75% of the revenue derived from processing, review, analysis and production of electronically stored information (ESI).

Although the report was, as its name suggests, concerned with eDiscovery software vendors, the consolidation prediction was made in respect of the wider eDiscovery vendor market, implying, correctly as it has turned out so far, that we would see aggregation of the various components of the externally-provided eDiscovery process.

The Magic Quadrant itself appeared opposite the Strategic Planning Assumptions, showing Guidance Software as a Leader and CaseCentral amongst the Visionaries. Of those whose names appeared there,  Autonomy had already acquired the digital assets of Iron Mountain by the time the Magic Quadrant appeared, and has itself since been acquired by HP (who was not itself qualified to appear in the Quadrant). Symantec has bought Clearwell. Epiq Systems had just increased its size and its range by the acquisition of Encore eDiscovery Solutions, extending both its software and its services portfolio, and has since added De Novo Legal which combines processing, hosting and review 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 »

Getting on with the basics at CEIC as the eDiscovery world spins a little faster

May 20, 2011

I could sit here all morning trying to come up with a succinct heading which captures everything which is going on in eDiscovery / eDisclosure at the moment. The big things happening at a corporate level have greater long-term significance than mere changes of ownership, but the conferences, the articles, the cases and the rest don’t stop because of them. I have been at back-to-back events – IQPC in London and CEIC in Orlando, with a panel about the Bribery Act at Pinsent Masons with thebriberyact.com in between; there is more coming up. My heading, workmanlike rather than inspired, reminds us that this everyday stuff goes on daily whilst a bigger game plays out in corporate board-rooms.

I wrote up IQPC before I left for Orlando and will write about the Pinsents event and CEIC shortly. I rarely post things (or even tweet) when I am away, and this short piece is just to confirm that I am still (or again) at my post. The sentry duty analogy is deliberate: just before I left, Autonomy bought Iron Mountain’s digital assets; Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for eDiscovery Software came out whilst I was in Orlando; I had just parted company with Eddie Sheehy of Nuix when the announcement came through of a major investment in Nuix; I dropped off for a few minutes yesterday evening (I don’t need much sleep, but whole nights spent flying have to be made up somewhere), and woke to discover that Symantec has agreed to buy Clearwell Systems (the links are to their respective announcements); the wires are full of Recommind’s announcement of a partnership with email archiver Smarsh. The international ediscovery world is spinning faster than it did last week.

These are all interesting and important and I will come back to some of them in due course. Much of it is analysts’ territory, and I am concerned more with the nuts and bolts of e-discovery / e-disclosure – what judges are thinking, what lawyers should be knowing and doing, and what practical problems face them. I will let the news stories simmer whilst I catch up with what I have been hearing and speaking about at the hands-on level. They are different strands of the same story anyway – the continuum from email archiving through to ediscovery for litigation and compliance purposes appears in both the company stories and the day-to-day practical stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

King Ludd and the Lawyers – e-Discovery and the Luddite Fallacy

March 7, 2011

Since I am about to refer you to three weighty articles by others, I will keep my own comment to a minimum. The context is the ability of modern litigation software to analyse documents more quickly and more cheaply than lawyers can. This was the subject of my own recent article The relevance of a computer called ‘Watson’ and a television game show to electronic discovery, which sought to explain in non-technical terms what you can expect from modern litigation software applications. The articles to which I now refer you take the discussion one stage further – if software can perform some of the functions of lawyers, and do so quickly and cheaply, then what are the prospects for lawyers? If the first stage of user acceptance is that the lawyers should understand what the software does, then the next is to emphasise that this is a promise of better things, not a threat. The argument takes us back to the machine-breakers of the early 19th Century and the economic theory named for their putative leader, Ned Ludd.

The discussion was kicked off by an article in the New York Times on 4 March. Headed Armies of expensive lawyers, replaced by cheaper software, it covered much of the same ground as my article, including references to ‘Watson’ and Jeopardy! and the marshalling of large teams of lawyers. Where I referred to lawyers having “hangovers, lovers, debts and day-dreams to distract them”, the NYT article said “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t”. The NYT author, John Markoff, and I are clearly barking up the same tree at least in the identification of the technology trends. We differ as to the outcome or, rather, I see survivors and beneficiaries where Markoff emphasises losers Read the rest of this entry »

Exposing your thinking parts to the outsourcing discussion

January 26, 2011

That old image of the ostrich burying its head in the sand is apparently unfair. The purpose is apparently to use the ground as a sounding board, vibrations giving advance warning of problems to come. This prosaic reality undermines that quotation from the great libel silk George Carman,who said of one claimant that he “behaved like an ostrich and put his head in the sand, thereby exposing his thinking parts”.

I used to have reservations myself about mentioning outsourcing, but that was because every reference to it brought down on my head a stream of offers from people wanting to tell me at nauseating length about the services which they could offer without, apparently, making any attempt to establish whether I was likely to be a buyer. I stemmed the flow eventually by abandoning my usual courtesy and telling them exactly what I thought of their marketing.

It does not matter whether you prefer the traditional picture of the ostrich’s motives or take the revisionist view that it is just getting early warning of what is coming. Lawyers, whether in private practice or in companies, need to expose their thinking parts to different ways of covering the ground. Most information management involves a mixture of technology, grunt work and high intellectual input, and the trick is to work out how much of which you need to apply to what. You cannot begin this without some idea of what is on offer from both technology suppliers and from those who offer to do the parts which you cannot do cost-effectively yourself – or, to put it more accurately, which someone else can do at least as well at a lower cost.

I was recently invited to take part in the Global LPO (Legal Process Outsourcing) Conference, organised by KPO Consultants and taking place in London on 2 and 3 March.  It had a good spread of speakers already engaged, including general counsel from big employers and people from law firms, the Law Society and the Legal Services Board, together with David Kemp from technology provider Autonomy . Read the rest of this entry »

ILTA 2010 wrap

September 3, 2010

This is my third (and last) article about ILTA 2010 Strategic Unity which closed in Las Vegas last week. My first article was a scene-setter, designed to give the flavour of the event and to explain why I thought it important for the UK to know what is going on in the legal technology market. The second article was largely devoted to the two sessions which I attended, on defensibility and on cloud computing. This article is about some of the people, companies and products which I came across.

I am not here solely concerned with my home market, the UK, but that well illustrates the growing need for lawyers to know something about the range of legal technology providers. The cumulative effect of the new practice direction and electronic documents questionnaire and of some recent cases (the ones I characterise as the “incompetence cases”, turning more on sloppiness and ignorance than on fine points of law), is that many UK lawyers will make their first acquaintance with electronic disclosure during the coming year. It is not, of course, that the problems have been invented by the cases or by the changes to the rules; most potentially disclosable documents are electronic, and few cases can be conducted proportionately by printing and reading them all.

If many UK lawyers will make their first call to a provider of litigation software or services for the first time over the next 12 months, their US counterparts will be making similar calls. The US case law continually raises the bar, not because it is binding on other courts, but because it redefines the standard of care expected of lawyers generally; clients expect more for less in the US as in the UK; the technology evolves continually; every player snipes at its rivals’ costs models, but competition keeps overall costs stable at worst; companies merge with and acquire each other, and individuals move from one provider to another. It is hard enough to keep up even if you already have experience of electronic discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

ILTA 2010 in Las Vegas: Strategic Unity, Defensibility and the Cloud

August 31, 2010

ILTA 2010 Strategic UnityILTA is the International Legal Technology Association. I am now back from ILTA 2010 Strategic Unity in Las Vegas, which was as busy and as good as ever. The red hot bloggers and tweeters were reporting on events as they happened. As usual, I prefer to wait and see what I can still remember a few days later, and to write about what interests me rather than what is seen objectively as important. My background post What happens in Las Vegas matters in the UK was a play on the old saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. These days, what happens in Vegas stands a good chance of being on FaceBook or Twitter in minutes, and the nearest I came to vice involved a new taste for cocktails, and cheesecake for breakfast (not, as my first draft had it, “cocktails and cheesecake for breakfast”, which just goes to show the importance of proper punctuation).

This avoidance of vice owed nothing to innate virtue. Between the educational sessions, the formal meetings, the social events and the random rencontres, there was no time for the more traditional Vegas pursuits of gambling, shopping, spur-of-the-moment marriage and energetic physical interaction with broad-minded fellow-delegates. I must improve my time-management next time. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy: a very short press release for a very big eDiscovery deal

June 21, 2010

There is, alas, no rule which says that press releases must be proportionate in length to the size of the story. Those of us who are sent them usually have to plough through yards of verbiage and work out for ourselves whether the host of superlatives actually means anything of significance.

That a really big story needs very few words is illustrated by one found today on the web site of the London Stock Exchange with the heading Autonomy enters into $25 million agreement for e-Discovery software.

The admirably terse central message reads

Autonomy…  today announced that it has received an order for its e-discovery and compliance solutions with an initial value of approximately $15 million and a total committed value of approximately $25 million over the next few years.

Commenting on the contract win, Andrew Kanter, Autonomy’s Chief Operating Officer said today: “I am pleased to announce this latest significant contract win at the more sophisticated end of e-discovery and compliance solutions, in this case coming outside the historically strong verticals of the financial services and pharmaceutical industries.”

Beyond the fact that the Stock Exchange page is headed “Regulatory Story”, there are no other clues as to the buyer or its purpose. Twitter buzzes with anticipation, but the story broke only 75 minutes ago, so we will have to wait and see. Stock Exchange market news has a narrower purpose than a full-blown press release, so we may get some details as the day goes on.

More when I know more.


Deborah Baron summarises the Autonomy Cloud message on video

February 16, 2010

I am a strong believer in the idea that businesses, and particularly technology businesses, need to make use of every medium which is available to get messages across to potential users. The new media formats such as Twitter, blogs, Facebook and video come at litigation support companies from two directions – they are simultaneously a medium for the distribution of information and a source of potentially discoverable information. Just as it becomes increasingly challenging to keep pace with the volumes to be collected, so it becomes harder to be heard as the means of instant worldwide publication become available to everybody.

That well-worn communications device, the press release, has many advantages. Companies can fine-tune the message, reduce it to the fewest possible words, and distribute it to a mailing list of recipients who will pass it on. Modern technology has multiplied the methods of distribution but the format remains the same as it did in the days when PRs were sent out in the post. The bigger the company, the more likely it is that there is a corporate style for press releases. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy eDiscovery Appliance – chaining law firms and clients together

January 28, 2010

A series of announcements from Autonomy coincide with what I see as the coming developments in the UK and elsewhere, enabling the lawyers to work collaboratively with clients.

As one would expect, Autonomy has come up with a series of announcements in advance of LegalTech. One of them is about the large number of awards – six in all – which they are to be given by Law Technology News on LegalTech’s opening Monday evening.

The others are about three product launches – DSMail , a self-service archiving solution for email management, governance and ediscovery, iManage ConflictsManager, which enables law firms to streamline the management of their conflicts of interest process, and the Autonomy eDiscovery Appliance which combines early case assessment (ECA) and legal hold capabilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Georgetown Law: Rudoy on eDiscovery certification – reality or myth?

January 26, 2010

An article by George Rudoy on the Georgetown Law site, which includes some input from me, reawakens the debate about certification of those who work in eDiscovery. Education on this subject was a key recommendation of the recent UK Jackson Report and I am (as you might expect) an enthusiast for it. Why am I against certification?

One of the key topics of 2009 in the US eDiscovery world was the extent to which it is desirable, helpful or necessary to establish a scheme for certification of those engaged in litigation support and eDiscovery. George Rudoy, Director of Global Practice Technology & Information Services at Shearman & Sterling LLP, is well-known for his role in practical education, and has just published an article whose title eDiscovery certification — reality or myth? implies that the subject is not as straightforward as one might hope. Who would argue against education of those engaged in the high-value and risk-fraught business of electronic discovery, or electronic disclosure as it is in the UK? Read the rest of this entry »

Posse List interviews with eDiscovery leaders

January 22, 2010

The Posse List is running a new series called “Data! Data! Data!” — Cures for a General Counsel’s ESI nightmares. The commentary, as always, is to the point.

Of yet more interest is the series of interviews in which they are building up. At the time of writing, we have interviews with Andy Wilson of Logik and Tim Williams of Index Engines amongst others. We are promised more, including Ron Friedmann of Integreon, Deborah Baron of Autonomy, Nigel Murray of Trilantic, Virginia Henschel and Rob Robinson of Applied Discovery, Mary Mack of Fios, and Adam Cohen of FTI Technology.

This is a useful supplement to the Posse List’s growing collection of eDiscovery resources and to the flood of press releases which we can expect between now and the opening of LegalTech.


First thoughts on the eDisclosure implications of the Jackson Report

January 15, 2010

The sections relating to disclosure and e-disclosure in the Jackson Report are a call to action for lawyers and judges without waiting for any actual amendment to the Rules. The key element which Jackson identifies is education, and we can get on with that tomorrow.

The 558 pages of Lord Justice Jackson’s Final Report on Litigation Costs have hit my screen with a thump. My focus inevitably is on the sections relating to disclosure and e-disclosure between pages 364 and 374, and on the section on disclosure in the Case Management section beginning on page 275. As with his Preliminary Report, Lord Justice Jackson devotes a section to e-Disclosure separately from the section on disclosure itself, that is, the mechanics are distinguished from the scope of disclosure. Lord Justice Jackson’s concise style means that a great deal is packed into these few pages. It is all good stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Gartner, Hong Kong and civil servants inspire reader comments

December 21, 2009

Recent comments from readers cover the Gartner report on the litigation software market, the state of play in Hong Kong, and the bright light which has suddenly been shone on the need for government departments to approach electronic disclosure in the same way as a large law firm or company would approach it.

From time to time a reader drops me a line suggesting that  something I have said is ambiguous or unclear, or that I have left something out. The omissions are often deliberate – not by way of censorship, but because I am anxious both that I should get to the end of writing the post and that you should finish reading it. These signs that people are bothered enough to write in are extremely welcome. I had three last week, and they are all worth passing on. Read the rest of this entry »

Legal Technology Awards 2009

December 16, 2009

The Legal Technology Awards list is out. The number of categories, providers and products may seem bewildering, but their web sites give a good idea of what they do. Follow some links and see what maps to the problems which your firm or company faces.

The Legal Technology Awards come in two waves, the juried awards (broadly for individuals, law firm departments, inspired uses of technology and so on) and the vendor categories which are voted for by those who use them. There are about 33 categories and up to three awards in each of the vendor categories. I will not list them all because Monica Bay has already done that here for the juried awards and here for the vendor awards. Read the rest of this entry »

451 Group reports on IQPC in New York

December 15, 2009

I was not at IQPC’s E-discovery conference in New York last week (see IQPC New York – minimizing risks, costs and challenges). Fortunately the 451 Group’s Katey Wood was there and her report is here.

Two of the points which caught Katey Wood’s eye are of particular interest. One is the session in which Deborah Baron of Autonomy interviewed Karla Wehbe of Bechtel. My article had made the point that client case studies are only interesting if they recount triumph over difficulties. This one seems to have done just that, with sceptical external lawyers now apparently onside and (a much overlooked benefit of in-house control) a proportion of reviewed documents now reusable. My spies tell me that this session was well received – not surprising, perhaps, given the article’s conclusion about “the shifting of roles between e-discovery vendors, service providers, general counsel and law firms as technology moves in-house”.

The other point of interest springs from Katey Wood’s account of the session about collection of international ESI, whose speakers included the well-regarded Denise Backhouse of Morgan Lewis. The sentence about the EU’s fundamental human right to privacy being “literally a foreign concept to those of us accustomed to living under the Patriot Act” is a good way of illustrating how much there is to do to convey to US lawyers that language is not the only thing which is foreign once you cross the Atlantic. Privacy laws and data protection need more than a check-list, as the article says. It would be a good start, however, if the subject did at least appear on the check-lists of those who need to collect data from Europe.

I have yet to see a report about the large judges’ panel at this conference. I will pass it on when I find out what was covered.


IQPC New York – minimizing risks, costs and challenges

December 3, 2009

Minimizing risks, costs and challenges is the title of the IQPC eDiscovery conference taking place in New York from 7 to 9 December 2009. I will not be there, but the agenda offers more opportunities than its title suggests.

I would have gone, for example, to the Judicial Perspectives panel which Patrick Burke of Guidance Software is moderating, with no fewer than six US Magistrate Judges. At the top of the six bullet points which form the agenda is Sedona Cooperation Proclamation – should lawyers cooperate with each other? It would be interesting, would it not, to get a glimpse now of the six hot topics for the agendas for, say, December 2012 or (which is more feasible) to look at old topic listings and compare and contrast them with today’s. When did “co-operation” first make an appearance on the agendas? Patrick is good at spotting what is coming next and, if my own experience on his panels is a guide, will make good use of his army of panellists. Read the rest of this entry »

Business mixed with pleasure at the Thomson Reuters London e-Disclosure conference

November 17, 2009

The Thomson Reuters Fifth eDisclosure Forum was sponsored by Autonomy, Stratify and Legastat and, as before, the co-chairs were Browning Marean, George Socha and me. I enjoyed it and, unless they were just being polite, the audience seemed to think it a valuable day. The session reports will follow; this summary gives you the flavour of the day and suggests how to follow it up.

Asked why we had left the key subject of search until the last session, I said that we were sufficiently confident of keeping most of the audience until the end that we wanted to go out on a high. So it proved, even on a wet and windy Friday the 13th several miles east of the back end of beyond at Canary Wharf. This is the one conference which the co-chairs get to design from the beginning, and I do not recall that we paid much attention to the sequence. All the topics were significant. Read the rest of this entry »

Where does a wise man hide a leaf?

November 2, 2009

What connects Father Brown’s deduction that a trusted old soldier had been a villain with Autonomy’s tracing of Jérôme Kerviel’s activities at Société Générale? Both stories involved not just hiding leaves in forests but making a forest in which to hide the leaves. Companies need to get a grip on their data.

The Times has been running a rather good series of supplements on matters relevant to business. Last week’s was on Corporate Fraud, and I and other e-Disclosure commentators were interviewed for an article called Finding a hidden leaf in a forest (page 5) .

The heading is a misquotation. What I actually said in my interview was “Where does a wise man hide a leaf?”. This expression was used by Lord Justice Jacob in Nichia v Argos in his discussion about mass disclosure as opposed to the consideration of documents “with some care to decide whether they should be disclosed”. His paragraph 47 says this:

“…it is the downstream costs caused by the disclosure which so often are so substantial and so pointless. It can even be said, in cases of massive disclosure, that there is a real risk that the really important documents will get overlooked. Where does a wise man hide a leaf?” Read the rest of this entry »

The British invade Washington again, this time to talk and learn, not burn

October 25, 2009

To say that electronic discovery is international connotes more than the cross-border ramifications of multi-jurisdictional litigation. There is commonality in the problems, the rules and the solutions, to say nothing of the implications for law firms of new ways of working. The Masters Conference was an opportunity to explore many of them.

My ambition to report on the Masters Conference in Washington before reaching the LexisNexis e-discovery conference in Singapore was defeated by various things – only so many hours in the day for one thing, and no power sockets on the planes. As I begin writing this, it is 4.00am in Singapore a week later and the conference here has been and gone. Read the rest of this entry »

Packed programme for Masters Conference

October 9, 2009

The 2009 Masters Conference takes place in Washington on 12 and 13 October. Its title, Global Corporate Change – Navigating Discovery, Risk and Security covers only a fraction of the subjects covered in two days.

The best part for me last year, and the main reason I went, was a keynote speech by US Magistrate Judge John Facciola which I reported at length (see Leadership in Litigation). This took the debate beyond court rules and litigation technology and up into the importance of the court as a component of society. There is a direct line between competence and the efficient use of technology (on the one hand) and access to justice (on the other). Lawyers, judges, and governments which do not to make the courts accessible to everybody are not just failing their clients, the parties appearing before them or those whom they govern. Judge Facciola has the knack of making these things sound not just worthy sentiments but objectives directly related to our daily work.

What makes this job interesting is the breadth, from the minutiae of data handling to matters of state policy. There is almost no corner of the field which is not touched on in the course of the two day conference. If I pick out just the sessions from the program on the entirely random basis that I know the speakers, that is enough to give you the flavour of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Conveying business ideas with short videos

September 10, 2009

Videos about the e-discovery /e-disclosure industry can be by captains of industry or the junior trainee, can cover everything from pure technology to business commentary, and can be formal or otherwise. A set of short videos by Mike Lynch of Autonomy shows that informed informality from the top can come across well.

I am, as I have mentioned, finding some interest in the idea of using videos, and specifically videos delivered by YouTube, as a means of getting the e-disclosure / e-discovery messages across. I was attracted partly by their immediacy and accessibility, but also by the fact that they suited the times both as to their cost (which can be minimal) and their use of popular technology to convey technology messages.

The potential scope is extremely wide, ranging from technical explanations (“here is an example of conceptual search”) to putting illustrative flesh on narrative bones so that bald references to, say, forensic collection of data might be illustrated by a short film showing somebody doing just that.

Such videos do not have to be technical. Electronic discovery / disclosure involves businesses of all sizes, from established giants to hopeful start-ups. There is value in hearing from those who have made it with messages for those who hope to follow them. Read the rest of this entry »

How was ILTA for you?

September 3, 2009

There are two halves to the question “How was ILTA for you?”. One is the personal reaction. Did I learn something and see some interesting technology? Did I meet interesting people? Did I have fun? The answer to all these questions is Yes, as I expected. The more serious question concerns the state of the industry, by which I mean the lawyers who are involved in e-discovery for litigation and regulation and their clients as well as those who provide software and services to them. Let’s take the easy bit first.

Gaylord National

I am luckier than most at ILTA. I have no responsibilities apart from talking to pleasant people about a subject in which I am interested. I have no stands to put up and man; I do not have to do any hard selling or make any buying decisions; such formal meetings as I have are a pleasure rather than a burden; I do not have projects running back in the office and anxious clients to keep contact with; I have no staff to be responsible for nor is anyone responsible for me. My sole “duty” is to see people I know and like, to meet people I do not know, and to write about some of it afterwards.

On that basis, I am easily pleased. The venue was just fine, the organisation impeccable, the sessions and booths interesting, and I was in conversation with agreeable people from arrival to departure except when I chose to sit quietly writing. A lawyer from the US, the UK, or anywhere else where documents are collected for civil proceedings could have informed him or herself at any level – those new to the subject get a gentle immersion which they can take at their own pace, whether in sessions, by going round the stands or by just talking to others; those who want a higher level of learning, technology or discussion can easily find it. Read the rest of this entry »

Show me more like this

August 19, 2009

Guidance Software’s new EnCase Portable is interesting enough for itself. The way in which they are promoting it is even more so. The industry as a whole could make use of YouTube’s ability to point users to related material.

I happened to be with Guidance Software on the day that they announced EnCase Portable the new pocket-sized version of their forensic collection application EnCase, at a meeting of their Strategic Advisory Board at CEIC in Orlando in May. We were given a preview of the extremely neat kit — one USB drive containing EnCase and another to hold the data. The ability to put a forensic collection of data into your pocket looks like a proposition which should sell itself.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had written an article called the Untapped potential of YouTube as a promotional medium . The immediate context was the launch that week of a song called What Really Matters to Me by The Phoenix Fall, whose drummer is my son Charlie (it did very well, thank you for asking, and the second one is due out soon). The more important theme of my article, however, was that YouTube offered an instantly accessible promotional vehicle which went far beyond music videos. I raised, but quickly dismissed, the idea that Sir Rupert Jackson might launch his Preliminary Report (which was due out the next day) via a YouTube broadcast, but omitted to mention that Senior Master Whitaker once did a brief YouTube video about e-disclosure. Read the rest of this entry »

Web demos allow interest without commitment

August 17, 2009

Technology companies make little use of technology to deliver their messages. Web demos may lack the personal touch of a face-to-face show, but you can reach many more people. They offer unparalleled opportunities to show off your products without the mutual commitment which a physical demo offers. The committed people will find you anyway – it is the others you need to reach.

The two web resources I talk about (from Anacomp/CaseLogistix here and Guidance Software in a separate article) are two I fell over (and the fact that I did so is perhaps interesting in its own right, since being found by people who are not looking is an obvious plus). I am sure they are not the only ones – let me know if you own, or have found, a web demonstration which is interesting as an informational medium.

I wrote recently about software demonstrations which I organised for Lord Justice Jackson (Jackson Litigation Costs Review consultation ends). Epiq Systems, Autonomy,  and FTI Technology each sent along their best demonstrators and compressed their shows into 30 minutes each. The result was one of the most illuminating sessions I have ever seen.

You probably need to be a Lord Justice of Appeal with a report to write to command such a luxury. It is difficult for lawyers to organise multiple demonstrations and for suppliers to send their best men to every firm or company which expresses mild interest in their product. Not the least of the problems is that lawyers are fairly wary of expressing even mild interest. Merely putting their head above the parapet will, they fear, lead to a constant barrage of calls from an eager salesman keen to convert that mild interest into a sale, preferably a big one and during the current quarter. That dreadful question “so how soon will you be making a decision?” is the biggest deal-killer there is, and fear of it puts off those who simply know want what is out there or even just to understand the concepts. The supplier, for its part, has finite resources and an obvious wish to focus on the key targets. The salesmen himself (and it usually is a him) has an obvious personal interest in spending his time with those most likely to reach a quick decision. Read the rest of this entry »

Jackson Litigation Costs Review consultation ends

August 2, 2009

A few seconds before midnight on Friday, an e-mail arrived from Abigail Pilkington, the Clerk to the Review of Civil Litigation Costs. It was a bit eerie, really. The East Wing of the Royal Courts of Justice is a cavernous, Gothic place at the best of times, like Hogwarts without the wizards. I got locked into an upper corridor one evening, many years ago (accidentally, I should say, looking for a judge to grant an injunction) and found it a disquieting experience. I pictured Abigail on her own in the gloom, conscientiously sending out acknowledgements to late submissions like mine. Closer inspection showed firstly that the e-mail was an autoreply, and secondly that it had actually been sent within a few moments of me sending my e-mail earlier that day. Perhaps the RCJ needs some wizards to look at it is e-mail system.

The message included a reminder that submissions must also be sent as hard copy. Fortunately (since the 31 July deadline was due to expire 30 seconds later), I had finished my submission with a day in hand and had noticed the requirement to send a hard copy in the nick of time. That took me back a bit – I don’t think I have sent out a hard copy of anything this century. I blew dust off the printer, and found one of those plastic spines which had fortunately survived my recent cull of office equipment which I don’t use any more. After lots of faffing about with envelopes and Sellotape, I set off to find a post office. Gordon Brown’s commitment to public services has included closing many of these essential local services, and our nearest one, some way off, is run with that surly inattentiveness which results from having a monopoly. You can’t drive to it – there is usually a queue, and the traffic wardens are the only competent and efficient representatives of our local authorities here in Oxford. So I waited for a gap in the rain, and walked to the post office, queued by the notices warning of all the services which post offices do not provide any more, had my package weighed, paid for the stamp, and trudged back to my desk. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy integrates workflow into iManage Worksite

July 1, 2009

Those whose involvement with information management comes at the discovery end of the process have come to take for granted the immense sophistication of some of the applications available at this end of the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model). One of the reasons why this is necessary is that the clients have done little to sort, filter and classify their documents as they went along.

The lawyers can compound this potential for confusion at the inception of a matter. Things happen in a rush, with forms to complete, accounts to open, standard documents to send out and track and various forms of checks to undertake – does this client or its matter raise client conflicts? Does taking on the work conflict with some ethical position which the firm (or another big client) has taken? All this has to happen at the same time as the client is sending in the first batch of documents about the matter with the breathless request to know if they will win or lose. Some of the letters and other documents and transactions require approvals, with a corresponding need to route requests and relay the reaction. Read the rest of this entry »

Sedona Conference dialogue on cross-border discovery in Barcelona

June 25, 2009

As I have noted elsewhere, I had my own cross-border problems in getting to the Sedona Conference International Programme on Cross-Border eDiscovery, eDisclosure and Data Privacy Conflicts in Barcelona on 10-11 June. I was chairing an edisclosure conference in London the previous day and due in Sydney at the week-end and, in consequence, arrived late in Barcelona and left as soon as the main business ended.

I am spared my usual faithful accounts of the sessions by Sedona’s sensible rule that “what happens at Sedona stays at Sedona”. My mission generally is to get as wide an audience as possible for what is said at conferences, but I am more than happy to submit to the restriction in this context, partly because there is more than enough else to write up and partly because the density of the dialogue (and Sedona is expressly committed to dialogue rather than debate) is such that you would need a book to do justice to its proceedings.

It seems sensible instead to juxtapose some stereotypes against the reality in an attempt to show those new to the subject what the broad picture is. This matters because cross-border issues inevitably involve cross-cultural matters as well as conflicts of laws. The best and most topical summary of the issues is Working Document 1/2009 on pre-trial discovery for cross border civil litigation prepared by a Working Party set up under Article 29 of EU Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. Its introduction recites the problem thus: Read the rest of this entry »

Remember to seek disclosure of telephone recordings

June 5, 2009

A “document” is defined in Rule 31.4 CPR as “anything on which information of any kind is recorded”. Lawyers brought up in the days of paper disclosure, even those who have adjusted to electronic versions of those paper documents such as the source Word file, may overlook other things “on which information of any kind is recorded”.

At the top of the list comes recordings of telephone conversations. These days, our most mundane calls are preceded by a message warning us that our call may be recorded “for training purposes”. If that was indeed its only purpose, then the warning is little more than aural clutter to make us hate the company even more than we do already – most of us come across these messages when dealing with our ISP, utilities provider or similar organisation whose institutional incompetence extends to the erection of barriers against the customer. The added delay whilst some Estuary-accented trollop warns you about recordings certainly succeeds in putting me off making any call which is not vital, as is doubtless intended. Read the rest of this entry »

Everything and everyone at the IQPC Information Retention and E-Discovery Management Conference

May 23, 2009

I reached IQPC’s Information Retention and E-Discovery Management  Conference 2009 just as the first speaker stood up on Wednesday morning, feeling rather like Phileas Fogg as he burst into the Reform Club with seconds to spare. Although I had not been round the world in 80 days, it felt like it after the 4336 miles overnight from Orlando (see posts here and here as to why I was in Orlando). At least it was warm and sunny in London, unlike damp, dank Florida.

The IQPC e-discovery conference is one of the best in the London calendar, as much for the people one meets there as for the content. At my first, two years ago, I was introduced to three people on one day who have directly contributed to what I do now. Victor Limongelli, now CEO of Guidance Software, gave the first talk I had heard which drew attention to the similarities and differences between US and UK procedure and practice. Master Whitaker spoke rather pessimistically about the difficulties of persuading judges and practitioners that the proper court management of electronic documents was vital to control litigation costs. Mark Surguy of Pinsent Masons talked about the need for lawyers to understand technology and to get to know some providers of software and services who could help them. Read the rest of this entry »

Compliance with the demands of an e-disclosure diary

May 16, 2009

I don’t think I envisaged a peaceful life when I decided to commit all my time to promoting electronic disclosure, but I am not sure either that I foresaw this much activity compressed into a short space. It is just as well that I enjoy it. My original policy never to say no to anything which will get an audience for the subject has had to be modified a bit – double-bookings are difficult, for one thing. Every event involves preparing slides and notes, not just turning up on the day, and the everyday stuff – researching and writing – goes by the board when there is always something happening or about to happen. I would not want it any other way but it would be good to have it better spaced. A summary will have to suffice for now, and the summer promises time to catch up. Read the rest of this entry »

Guidance Software survey for IQPC

May 1, 2009

The Information Retention and e-Disclosure Conference run by IQPC is usually one of the best in the calendar, with a better-than-usual mix of corporate users and information professionals. It take place this year on 20 and 21 May at Le Meridien in Piccadilly. As usual, Day 1 is concerned with information management and Day 2 with litigation and regulatory matters.

I have several levels of interest in this conference. I am on its Advisory Board and have been involved in much of the planning. I am doing two judicial sessions on Day 2, of which I will say more shortly. Several of the sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project are taking part, including Guidance Software, FTI Technology, Epiq Systems, Autonomy and Legal Inc. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy audio processing for law firms

April 28, 2009

Autonomy has wasted little time in extending its search technology into the iManage products which came to it with the acquisition of Interwoven. It has announced an audio processing capability for what is now called Autonomy iManage WorkSite.

The business rationale lies in the growing amount of audio which law firms now have. Voice-mails, recorded depositions, in-house educational materials, and a wide range of other sources are now routinely recorded and kept. The need to search them is no less than the need to hunt down documents in more conventional forms – and it is a measure of how far we have come that we now consider Word files, spreadsheets and other electronic files as “conventional”. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy appoints Robert Webb QC as non-executive chairman

April 13, 2009

Autonomy Corporation Plc has appointed Robert Webb QC as its Non-Executive Chairman with effect from 1 May 2009.

Robert Webb was General Counsel at British Airways from 1998 until recently. He practised at the Bar from 1971, becoming Queen’s Counsel, Head of Chambers at 5 Bell Yard and a Crown Court Recorder. He holds a range of other posts, including non-executive directorships at the BBC and the London Stock Exchange. Autonomy’s CEO, Dr Mike Lynch, said of him that “his experience in litigation, regulatory and compliance issues is directly relevant to our current commercial focus”.

The appointment is a reminder that Autonomy is a British company in origin, with dual headquarters in Cambridge and in San Francisco. Those of us whose focus is on the relatively narrow world of litigation and regulation may also overlook the fact that this is only one of the areas in which Autonomy’s enterprise search applications are used by corporations and government departments and agencies.

One of my former partners used to instruct him often, mainly on aviation matters, and his name is familiar from that as well as from his high-profile role at BA. His twenty five years at the Commercial Bar followed by a broad range of roles in industry make him a good choice for his new role at Autonomy.


Catching up with KPMG

March 31, 2009

Part of the function of the e-Disclosure Information Project is to keep up with what the providers of software and services are doing. Given my emphasis on the human aspects of this business (which recurs in this blog and elsewhere in the form of questions like “Would you trust them with your client’s data? Do you like them?”) it is important to keep in touch by going in to see providers or welcoming them out here in Oxford. Since I neither buy nor directly recommend anything, these sessions are free of sales pitches, save in the subliminal and low-key sense that there is a mutual interest in sharing information.

I always seem to have a backlog, both of outstanding invitations and of writing about them. That reflects the balance between things I do directly for the Project’s sponsors, the wider objective informational aspects, the range of material which has to be read from the various jurisdictions in which discovery takes place, and the fact that there is always a conference organiser bullying for a set of slides.

KPMG comes to mind every day for the wholly obscure reason that my coffee cup sits on a tile which was the 1993 Christmas present from KPMG Forensic Accounting. It is functional as a mat, albeit that it shows a 1994 calendar. Like KPMG itself, it can claim longevity in a market which is full of new companies, staffed by people who were still at school in 1994, and in which corporate freebies have a marketing life of about ten minutes. I must have been on their mailing list on the strength of accounting negligence claims which I had run as a litigation partner (including JEB Fasteners v Marks Bloom in 1984 and Al Saudi Banque v Clarke Pixley in 1990, both still cited). Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy finalises Interwoven acquisition

March 17, 2009

An overnight press release confirms that Autonomy’s acquisition of Interwoven has been finalised. It has been understandably difficult to get any useful comment out of either of them (I have tried) whilst the transaction was awaiting the formal approvals necessary to close it.

For those who have invested in Interwoven’s content management applications, it will be reassuring to read that “Autonomy is committed to the on-going development and support of Interwoven’s products and solutions in line with all currently published Interwoven roadmaps.”

What interests my readers is the hosted document review platform Discovery Mining, which Interwoven itself only acquired during 2008. Of this, Anthony Bettencourt, CEO of Autonomy Interwoven, says:

For Interwoven’s Discovery Mining customers, Autonomy offers the most complete EDRM solution on a single technology platform…. We will bring together the best aspects of Discovery Mining and Zantaz Introspect to meet your current and future processing, review and production needs. Autonomy has 6 data centers with 6,000 servers, and Discovery Mining will now become our West Coast processing center while Boston will remain our East Coast processing center.

That tells us little about actual development of the highly-regarded Discovery Mining application. My informal understanding (which makes logical sense) is that Autonomy’s IDOL engine will be put under Discovery Mining. It is not really clear whether we will see the convergence of Introspect and Discovery Mining into a single product or whether the two applications will be differentiated and aimed at different markets. It would not be surprising if long-term decisions like this have yet to be made.


Autonomy panel at LegalTech points to proactive clients – and lawyers

February 24, 2009

Panel sessions at LegalTech and other conferences combine the best of all worlds so far as I am concerned. The burden is distributed – the moderator has to have a plan and the ability to herd the speakers through it, and those on the panel have to have an agreement as to who is going to cover what, but you don’t have to prepare slides a month in advance nor stand alone under the spotlight hoping that the words sound as good live as they did four weeks ago in the seclusion of your office.

There is enough structure but also room for spontaneity as the discussion takes turns which were not on the formal agenda and, as long as the moderator is good enough to haul you back to the advertised programme, they can be fun to do – assuming, of course, that your fellow-panellists  have something useful to say.

There was no problem on that score with the two panels which I did for Autonomy at LegalTech in New York earlier this month. The programme was the same for both of them. Carter Hopkins, in-house counsel at McAfee, and I were on both of them, but the third player in one was Florinda Baldridge, Global head of Litigation Support at Fulbright & Jaworski and at the other was Laurie Weiss, co-head of Fulbright’s E-Discovery and Information Management Practice Group. Deborah Baron, VP Legal & Compliance at Autonomy, Inc. was the able moderator. Read the rest of this entry »

E-Disclosure Taster Menu in Bristol

February 21, 2009

I went down to Bristol last week with a group of electronic disclosure suppliers at the invitation of the Western Chancery & Commercial Bar Association. The aim, as in Birmingham last year, was not just to talk about electronic disclosure, but to illustrate it by showing and describing a range of applications and services

Bristol used to be Britain’s second city. In the 18th Century it grew prosperous on the triangular trade which took cloth and iron goods to Africa, slaves to America and tobacco, and sugar and rum back to Bristol. In 1841 the Great Western Railway connected it to London and, in an early example of joined-up commerce, you could travel on GWR trains and GWR ships from London to New York. Its relative prosperity declined as other places boomed and as different industries – ship-building, tobacco, cotton – had their heyday and fell away. There is more industry in the region than one sees from the M4 – I flew over the Severn Estuary on my way in from New York at dawn a couple of weeks ago and noted the miles of industrial zones from Avonmouth Docks down towards Bristol.

All that industry, together with property-related work from the West – Bristol is the first place of any size as you come up from Cornwall or out of Wales – has supported the growth of a strong legal and professional services business. Every other legal magazine in the late 1980s seemed to profile Bristol. Its population of around 400,000 makes it now Britain’s tenth city preceded by London, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bradford, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Manchester. It can take as little as 90 minutes to get to London by train.  There are some large barristers’ chambers in Bristol and one does not get the impression that work is in short supply. Bristol is one of ten cities in Britain with a Mercantile Court, that is, a court with a specialist commercial list and judge or judges ticketed to hear mercantile cases.

All very interesting you may say, but this site is meant to be an information resource on electronic disclosure, not a local history, travel guide or Chamber of Commerce directory. Indeed, but disclosure comes with litigation; litigation follows industry and business; and the ability to win commercial litigation work from any region depends on the quality of local law firms and chambers, and on their ability to stop the work from heading to London. It ought to be possible, in fact, for the combination of legal skills, good transport links and an efficient Mercantile Court not just to stem the flow to London but to reverse it. The sixty or so barristers and solicitors who turned out to listen to us presumably want to draw work into their region. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Equivio as new Project sponsor

January 27, 2009

I am delighted to welcome Equivio as a new sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. As I wrote in November (see New integration and new web site for Equivio) I met CEO Amir Milo at the Masters Conference in Washington. Equivio’s name was already a familiar one, but that meeting and a subsequent read-through of Equivio’s web site emphasised why Equivio is subliminally omnipresent in the data management world.

If, as I do, you spend your time explaining to lawyers, judges and corporates why technology must be used to reduce vast volumes of data and documents to manageable proportions, you learn three basic propositions – rely on illuminating snapshots not lengthy explanations, focus on the things which equate directly to the user’s own functions, and emphasise the benefits of using technology and not just the risks of not doing so. Equivio’s web site does just that, crisply and clearly. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy to buy Interwoven

January 23, 2009

I am not much into instant journalism, but it is nevertheless good to be able to report on the big stories as they happen. Just my luck, then, to be stuck on a train with a day full of back-to-back meetings ahead of me when my InBox started filling up with messages about Autonomy’s agreement to acquire Interwoven.

Both are sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project, and both are big players in the legal information world for reasons well beyond their respective interests in litigation discovery – Autonomy owns the review platform Introspect and Interwoven acquired Discovery Mining last year – but much of the combined 20,000 user base involves wider information management, not least in law firms – Interwoven alone has 1,200 large law firm customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy CEO named Entrepreneur of the Year

January 7, 2009

Mike Lynch, CEO of Autonomy, has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the UK’s Management Today in its Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2009 list.

The ranking takes account of a wide range of historic and projected factors – not just obvious ones like turnover and profitability, but headcount (how much work do they create for others?), geographic spread and gender split.

Autonomy’s strength lies in unstructured information and meaning-based technologies. Electronic discovery, review and production for litigation and regulatory investigation are amongst the uses for their applications, notably Aungate Investigator Early Case Assessment (ECA) and the Introspect review application. Autonomy are sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project. Read the rest of this entry »

Identify early and co-operate in 2009

December 24, 2008

As I sign off for Christmas, I would like to thank all those who have sponsored, supported or in any other way encouraged the e-Disclosure Information Project in 2008 and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It is only a month since I did a round up to cover the Project’s first birthday. Since then, we have had yet a third new e-disclosure case in the UK, Abela v Hammonds, and LDSI has joined the sponsors.

There is already a great deal planned for next year: the conference diary is filling up; my Law Society seminar tour will take up again; there should be a good UK showing at LegalTech in New York; there are plans afoot for co-operation with US, Australian and Canadian judges, rule makers and thought leaders with, I hope; a visit to each of these countries in March/April; there is a Technology Questionnaire to launch and a Practice Direction to draft; I hope to repeat in other UK cities the talk we gave in Birmingham at which we showed judges, barristers and solicitors some of the applications which are used in electronic disclosure; Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy and I are plotting an e-disclosure conference on our own model; with the Project format now established, I am looking forward to yet more interaction with its sponsors; as well as going to see and speak to people on their own patches in the UK and abroad, I hope to entice more visitors to come to Oxford and kick ideas around on Port Meadow, as I have done several times this year. Read the rest of this entry »

E-Disclosure Information Project first birthday

December 1, 2008

November marks the first anniversary of what became the E-Disclosure Information Project. It did not have that name when I ran a half-day training session for judges in Birmingham last November but it was effectively launched with that event. This Commentary began a year or so earlier.

That first session was made possible by generous support from forensic collections expert FoxData whose Ian Manning has continued to back what I do, by turning out to speak and with useful information and introductions as well as financially. Tyrone Edward, now at Ernst & Young Forensic Technology & Discovery Services, made the suggestion for a business model which has allowed me to spend substantially all my time on spreading information about electronic disclosure. The Project is sponsored by the companies whose logos appear here, but on the basis that it is independent and product-agnostic.

The main outputs from the e-Disclosure Information Project are what I write here and on my website, and conferences. There are 228 posts on this site. None of them are simple regurgitations of press releases – PRs are invaluable sources of hard information, but I am more interested in the context and the implications of a software or services initiative than in the bare words of a press release. Read the rest of this entry »

What exactly is it that you do?

November 21, 2008

A career devoted to court rules and electronic documents is not an instant turn-on for dinner party conversation. The subjects are, however, important ones for businesses beyond those which actually work in litigation, and the rate of change is increasing

What exactly is it that you do? Like all of us, I get asked this question from time to time by people who are outside the world of law and technology. It is much easier for those of you who read this. If, whatever your gender, you say you are a litigation solicitor, then doubtless people gaze on you with that same awestruck admiration which was formerly reserved for chaps on leave from the trenches. If you are a supplier and say that you work at the cutting edge of information technology then you are up there with rocket scientists – they do not understand, but they know it matters. Barristers are assumed to have mighty brains and Ciceronian eloquence. If you are a judge, then you are met with equal deference whether you are a part-time Deputy Recorder or sit in the Court of Appeal.

When they ask me, my answer usually elicits a perfectly understandable look of blank incomprehension. “I speak and write about the disclosure of electronic documents for litigation” I say. “Will you excuse me?” they reply. “I’ve got to go and see a man about a dog” or some such transparent excuse to get away. Read the rest of this entry »

Autonomy Early Case Assessment at the Ritz

November 17, 2008

Most of my speaking engagements are of the nuts-and-bolts, cradle-to-grave variety where I speak for a couple of hours about the issues raised by electronic documents and about how proper use of the Civil Procedure Rules, coupled with an understanding of the available technology solutions, should give parties and the courts the means to arrive at answers which are proportionate to the case.

People can read the rules for themselves once pointed in the right direction. The technology, and the problems which it addresses, need a more visual approach, and I am increasingly getting the opportunity to use snippets of visual displays from specific products to illustrate generic points. The aim is not to try and display the whole range of solutions from the left hand side of the EDRM diagram to the right, but to use a picture to say a thousand words about a sub-set of it, to shine a torch into a previously dark corner in the hope that it illuminates the wider picture.

As a change from these points of detail, I am sometimes asked to speak about the broader context, to give a kind of “state of the nation” talk which pulls together some of the threads. One such opportunity arose last week when Autonomy invited me to be the guest speaker at a lunch at the Ritz. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting disclosure information out of SharePoint

November 5, 2008

I was interviewed last week by one of the big computer magazines about the ever more ubiquitous Sharepoint – Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) to give it its full name. The context, unsurprisingly given my own area of practice, was the implications for SharePoint users of the need to produce documents and data from SharePoint to meet the demands of litigation or of regulators.

It is some time since I used SharePoint. My experience, however, is enough to tell me that it is superb at ingesting and distributing information, and substantially less so for finding it and getting it out again.

I do not mean, of course that you cannot find material in SharePoint – that is very much part of its function. Its indexing and retrieval tools, however, are geared to its primary function of production, sharing and distribution of information about set topics, often across multiple servers and jurisdictions. The very ease with which data can be distributed widely militates against the strict control which is expected – or which ought to be expected – of a document retention policy and all the other ideals of information governance within organisations. Read the rest of this entry »

Speaking and listening in Australia

October 30, 2008

Sydney feels familiar from the moment you step off the plane. It is not just its culture, language and architecture which makes you feel at home – its law, its information management issues, the remedies available to judges and the suppliers are the same or similar

Several decades ago, I lived and taught in Kenya on what was then not called a “gap year”. The gap was not optional in those days for those intending to go to Oxford or Cambridge.  I had until September to occupy, and arranged to spend the interval at a remote up-country school near Nyeri.

There was a boy amongst us who could see English parallels everywhere – you would be standing on a mud road looking up a valley of tea plantations at the mist hanging over the snowy peak of Mount Kenya and he would say “Just like the Lake District”. I have half a recollection that he compared a part of Nairobi to his native Croydon. This obsession with the similarities became slightly annoying for one whose pleasure derived from the geographical and cultural differences. In fact, although Kenya had become independent only ten years previously, pretty well every outward trace of colonial rule had been extirpated. The first signs of the new colonialism of the multinational existed in the form of a new Hilton Hotel.

I thought of this as I came in to Sydney over Botany Bay, whose sewage farm, oil refinery and container terminal jarred somewhat against my mental picture of Captain Cook picking daffodils beside gleaming sands. The first sign you see, over the starboard wing before your wheels touch the ground, are the yellow arches of McDonalds. One’s expectations of finding anything very different from Oxford or Washington diminish accordingly. Read the rest of this entry »

Going the extra mile to understand discovery

October 22, 2008

It takes roughly twice as long to travel from Sydney to London via Washington as it does to fly directly eastbound. I could have been home in Oxford in about half of the 30 or so hours of travelling time involved in the long hop across the International Date Line, the arrival in Los Angeles five hours before I left Sydney, the run between terminals at LAX, the airborne cattle truck which took me across the USA, the flog into Washington from Dulles Airport and, two days later, the red-eye back to London. It also cost me a fair amount of money.

The main draw was a keynote speech by US Magistrate Judge John Facciola at the Masters Conference in Washington. There was plenty else worth being at the Masters Conference for, but this was why I came. It was worth it. Read the rest of this entry »


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