Proportionality and a choice of technology from Hobs Legal Docs

September 3, 2012

Recent posts by Hobs Legal Docs remind us that the problems raised by e-Disclosure are resolved by adherence to principles like proportionality as well as by the selection of appropriate technology.

You don’t need scientific proof (though it exists, apparently) for the proposition that your brain does one of two things when subjected to too many choices:  after an attempt to assimilate and evaluate all the options, it either abandons analysis and plumps for something by instinct or gives up the selection process entirely and does without whatever it was which was being considered.

Something similar happens with words like “proportionality” which have multiple potential meanings and no certain definition, and subjects like “cross-border eDiscovery” which sounds like something which other people do, and only occasionally. They quickly become unnoticeable, like ambient music in a shop or the chatter of radio announcers – you have a vague idea that they are there but lose focus on content and meaning.

EDiscovery / eDisclosure has all these elements; multiple providers offer similar-looking solutions with terminology picked from a narrow vocabulary which includes polysyllabic words like “proportionality” and expressions  like “cross-border eDiscovery” whose meaning gets lost with every repetition. All these things do in fact have meaning and potentially have daily implications for lawyers.  In practice, proportionality is usually invoked only retrospectively when the lawyers are called upon to justify an alleged under-disclosure, and however important it appears at US eDiscovery conferences, UK lawyers give little thought to the implications of collecting documents and data from other jurisdictions. Read the rest of this entry »


Hobs Legal Docs takes Relativity and makes a senior appointment

May 31, 2012

London-based litigation and document management provider Hobs Legal Docs has made two significant announcements whilst I have been on my travels.

The first was the appointment of Patrick Rowan as Sales Director and as a Board Director of Hobs Legal Docs Ltd. Patrick comes from Ernst & Young whence he brings skills and experience in eDiscovery and eDisclosure as it arises in Competition and Regulatory matters, as well as experience in forensics data analytics. The Hobs press release about Patrick Rowan’s appointment is here.

I have yet to meet up or speak with Patrick since his appointment, as I like to do when appointments are made at this level, and hope to remedy that soon.

The other news from Hobs is that it has been appointed a Relativity Premium Hosting Partner, as you can see from the Hobs press release here and the kCura one here.  I was asked at a seminar this week if I would point the delegates to providers of software and services.  I gave my usual answer which is that the list of logos of those who support the eDisclosure Information Project is a good place to start, whilst adding in the interests of objectivity that there are other players in the market. Providers like Hobs bring a wide range of choices, together with the consultative skills and experience to help point users towards the right solution for their particular needs.

As you can see from Hobs Partners page, there is some overlap between their partners and my sponsors, as Relativity joins Westlaw CaseLogistix, Guidance Software, Clearwell and Equivio amongst others on the list.

It is worth reminding you that Hobs has a Manchester office and that all these applications, together with Hobs’ ability to manage paper disclosure in tandem with electronic disclosure, are available from there. I was in Manchester with Terry Harrison of Hobs in January (see eDisclosure seminar in Manchester with Hobs Legal Docs) and hope to be back there, this time on my own, later in the year. My next trip north is to Leeds on 13 June for MBL Seminars, something I will write about separately.

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Pedigree suggests that Hobs Legal Docs will keep on growing in eDisclosure

December 13, 2011

I have been trying to work out when I first heard of Hobs Legal Docs or came across its managing director, Terry Harrison. I have been in the UK litigation support business since 1993, and can generally recall the context in which its players came to my attention. Hobs and Terry seem to have been there for ever, yet I cannot remember that first introduction. I do not recall, either, that Hobs ever made big splashes at conferences, placed glossy advertisements, or churned out press releases saying how well they were doing. They always seemed too busy with real work to have time for things like that.

Hobs Legal Docs was in fact set up in November 2004 with Terry at its head. It is a separate entity within Hobs Reprographics plc, the largest independent reprographics group in Europe, and was established as a logical extension of Hobs Reprographics’ printing and copying, document management, and scanning and archiving services, with a particular strength in the construction industry. Hobs Reprographics was set up in 1969 in Liverpool by Kieran O’Brien, who joined forces with an Irish reprographics company called J D Hackett to provided drawing and printing services, originally to Liverpool companies but now with 18 branches around the UK. The name Hobs represents the initial letters of Hackett and O’Brien, Liverpool remains the headquarters, and Kieran O’Brien is still very much in charge, as I discovered when I had lunch with him recently.

A company’s history, however successful it may be, is not always relevant to its future development, especially in a market which changes as quickly as does the electronic disclosure business. The key to Hobs’ success, I think, lies in a quotation which Kieran O’Brien gave to the Liverpool Echo in 2006. Talking of Hobs’ organic and self-funded growth, Kieran said:

“We put around 10% of turnover back into the business each year to keep pace with new technology. I have always firmly believed a successful business can stand on its own two feet without recourse to venture capitalists or handouts and that is what we continue to do.” 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 »


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 »


7Safe eDiscovery networking event on 15 April

March 19, 2010

7Safe is holding an eDiscovery networking event on Thursday 15 April at The Hoxton Hotel, 81 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HU at 6.30pm.

It is to mark the official launch of their hosting of Anacomp’s CaseLogistix, one of the document review tools which was used by Anton Valukas, the examiner responsible for the recent report into the collapse of Lehman Brothers (see my articles about the Lehman Report and about the alliance between 7Safe and Anacomp).

I have a two interests in going, since both 7Safe and Anacomp are sponsors of the eDisclosure Information Project, and a third if you count the fact that I am speaking at the event. I see that the invitation is careful to distinguish between that part of the evening and the “fun” which is to be provided along with the refreshments.

If “fun” slightly overstates the entertainment value to be derived from listening to me talking, these are certainly interesting times, as I hope I will make clear. It may be premature to suggest in March that Senior Master Whitaker’s judgment in Goodale & Ors v The Ministry of Justice & Ors [2009] EWHC B41 (QB) (05 November 2009) is the e-Disclosure judgment of the year, but it certainly puts pressure on those who think that they can simply ignore electronic documents as being too difficult or too expensive to handle. Read the rest of this entry »


Stratify and CaseLogistix manage e-Discovery for the Valukas report on Lehman collapse

March 14, 2010

I am reasonably sure that I will not find time to read the 2,200 page Valukas Report on the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Fortunately, Gregory Bufithis of The Posse List has extracted from it the description of the electronic discovery exercise which Anton Valukas, the examiner appointed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee, undertook in the preparation of his report (see The Valukas Report on the Lehman Brothers collapse and e-discovery — Stratify and CaseLogistix win the day .

The chief interest to me, apart from the staggering volumes of documents involved (to say nothing of the 2600 software systems and applications in use at Lehmans) is that two of the e-Disclosure Information Project sponsors, Stratify and Anacomp’s CaseLogistix, emerged as the systems of choice for the investigation. More than 70 contract attorneys, in addition to lawyers from the retained law firms, conducted first first-pass reviews using these two systems. Read the rest of this entry »


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