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 »


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