Getting back to the e-Disclosure day job

November 3, 2010

Although it may seem that I spend most of my time in the departure lounges of the world, travel is a relatively small element of a typical month’s work. I am back to the meetings, the platform and media opportunities and the writing which fulfil my obligation to find out about e-disclosure problems and solutions and to try to match the one with the other. The travel informs that, but it is not an end in itself. I take the opportunity to summarise what the ends, and the means, are so far as I am concerned.

Douglas DC3Some semblance of normality descends after a month which kicked off with the launch of the UK eDisclosure Practice Direction and included visits to Washington, Toronto and Singapore. It would be easy to get the impression that travel is my main activity, but last month is, fortunately, not representative. I clocked up 27,936 air miles (the distance around the equator is 24,783 miles), and two of the conferences involved a fair amount of activity – planning in advance, taking part in sessions, and writing them up afterwards. This is, nevertheless, an activity which is ancillary to my main role.

Many years ago, I did a stint in Uzbekistan for an EU-funded project. One of the legacies of that is the deep hatred of the whole EU institution which you may have detected – the waste, the expensive, self-serving bureaucracy, and the very strong feeling that a large group of elected representatives and appointed officials have created an interfering monster whose primary function is to give them lucrative employment. The other legacy is that, for years afterwards, many people assumed that working in Tashkent was my main occupation, whereas it was in fact run in parallel, and only briefly, with litigation software development and consultancy work in the UK.

The same is true of the trips I do now – they are important, interesting, non-trivial in time terms, and allow a two-way traffic in understanding e-discovery problems and solutions, but they are not my main function. They are not compatible with writing, for which I require absolute silence, no distractions and a good supply of coffee and cigarettes, none of which are available on aeroplanes. Read the rest of this entry »

Turning e-discovery news and views into a community of interest

September 21, 2010

Those of us who work in e-discovery / e-disclosure get better and better at passing information and views between ourselves.  Web sites, blogs and Twitter allow us to keep up with developments – new products, company news and cases – in a market which changes all the time. Improvements in the mechanics of information delivery do not make it easier for new readers (which is the audience which matters) to understand it all. Can we turn this stream of information into a community of interest?

The word “community” has been hi-jacked by the woolly thinkers of the soft left. Private Eye runs a regular column pillorying those who write of meaningless “communities” whenever two or more people have some characteristic in common.  The expression “community of interest” has a meaning worth keeping, however, and is correctly used (and hard to replace) when different groups have common ground. The one in which I am interested is the loose assembly of lawyers, their clients, judges and technology providers who aspire to the proportionate use of electronic documents in litigation. That aspiration is purely notional in many cases, mainly because many of the players do not fully understand what the others need or can offer.

This article began as a way of covering many apparently disparate pieces of news or information in one place. As I wrote it, themes began to emerge which mapped on to some of the conversations which I have with lawyers seeking a quick ramp into the broad options which they face when e-disclosure becomes inevitable. We who have grown up as the industry grew up throw names and terms at each other, as if the audience shared the building-blocks of knowledge. They do not. Running several stories together may make for a long article, with loops and digressions as I expand on things which seem obvious to industry regulars, but those to whom it is all new may find that helpful.

One of the links which I intended to pass on anyway happened to be an interview in which Richard Susskind argued for better use of social media and for the development of a community of interest between the participants in the wider legal IT industry. That neatly tied in with my plan to base this article round a series of tweets, and suggested by extension that Twitter provides a ready-made core for such a community. It does so already for those on the inside. We need to invite the users in. Read the rest of this entry »

E-Disclosure and E-Discovery at home and abroad

September 14, 2010

I have given my first law firm talks since the Edisclosure Practice Direction became official and have started talking to my sponsors about its implications for them – the questionnaire gives them a useful and early role, if they are ready to give help to lawyers who need it; the speakers for my international judicial panel for the Masters Conference in October are booked; other autumn conference plans are moving forward. The new season is well under way.

I will come on to these things in a moment, including a quick digest of some points from the PD which may not be immediately obvious. They are not the only reason why there has been a gap since my last article: I have been off on my summer holidays – well, it was a long weekend really, and not that long, just half a day tacked onto a weekend before I had to get back for an interview. Maybe next year.

Orford Castle and ChurchMasts at OrfordPagodas at OrfordWe have been at my mother’s house at Orford on the Suffolk coast.  The word “defensibility” means something rather more tangible in Orford than it means in ediscovery.  Orford Castle was built between 1165 and 1173 and its keep dominates the skyline still. On Orford Ness, a narrow strip of land between the River Alde and the sea, secret military tests were conducted from the 1930s onwards, first on radar and later on cold war weaponry, for which purpose the curious Pagodas were built. It was also the home of a post-war over-the-horizon radar station for an Anglo-American system called Cobra Mist, abandoned in 1973. Orford Ness lighthouse may have been the source of the lights reported in the 1980 Rendlesham Forest UFO sightings, and attributed at the time to triangular flying objects – the only known example of someone demonstrating their technology and not following it up with a sales call.

This was a brief hiatus before activity picks up on both domestic ediscloure and international ediscovery. The UK’s Edisclosure Practice Direction comes into force on 1 October, and I have given my first law firm talks on the subject to one of those good regional firms which, I have suggested, have everything to play for in document-heavy litigation. That type of work used to require large teams and other resources available only to the biggest firms. The practice direction should see an end to the “brute force and ignorance” approach to edisclosure; the cudgel should give way to the stiletto, as firms learn to use the rules and the technology to narrow the disclosed documents as early as possible down to those which matter or which matter most. The practice direction requires [paragraph 6 (2)] that technology should be used in order to ensure that document management activities are undertaken efficiently and effectively. You do not need to be a big firm to handle large volumes, just aware of the tools which exist and (just as importantly) how to use the rules and the cases to meet the clients’ objective – which is not usually disclosure for its own sake. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Clearwell as new sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project

August 6, 2010

It is a great pleasure to welcome Clearwell Systems as the latest sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. Given Clearwell’s present standing in the eDiscovery market, it is hard to realise that it was founded as recently as 2004 and had therefore been going only three years when I set up the Project.

How does one measure a player’s “standing in the eDiscovery market”? I do not purport to be an analyst, so my use of the word “standing” implies no comparative statistics or detailed research. One can look at Clearwell’s “Strong positive” rating from Gartner in 2009, and its “Top 5″ supplier ranking from Socha-Gelbmann in 2008, an the logos of its users on its home page – BP, Microsoft, Toyota, Walmart, FedEx and others – act as kind of reference, but my sense of their standing does not derive entirely from these things either. Nor do I get it just from the references which Clearwell attracts – a quotation from KPMG’s Paul Tombleson referring to the “simplicity and speed at which Clearwell processes data” appears on its home page, and Legal Inc’s web site carries an article called Legal Inc and Clearwell – cutting complex projects down to size .

What I am talking of is a less tangible sense than one gets from such hard factual sources. Clearwell gets mentioned a lot, amongst those who are potential users and amongst rivals, and in a way which conveys ubiquity; for the benefit of non-Latinists, that means they turn up everywhere. This goes beyond their appearances on product selection short-lists. Clearwell is, in addition, a regular and informed commentator on the market, with an active blog, a range of useful white papers, and tweets which do more than merely promote its own products. They also support TREC, the Sedona Conference and lead several EDRM projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Epiq launches European document review service

July 16, 2010

Epiq Systems, owners of document review application DocuMatrix, have launched a new document review service based in its new offices in London following the success of the US service. The press release is here.

It is in a sense otiose for me to give my views since they are already set out in the press release, where I am quoted as saying:

Epiq’s document review service will appeal to a wide range of law firms and corporations. Those with existing expertise in electronic disclosure can take on additional work even if their in-house teams are already stretched; those who have no in-house resources and who might otherwise have to pass up work (or take it on with inadequate skills and staff) can delegate the expensive review stage to experienced teams. The two things which are particularly attractive about the service is the emphasis on quality control and reporting, and the fact that it is product-neutral despite the fact that Epiq is itself a well-known software provider. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to H5 as a sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project

March 14, 2010

It is a great pleasure to be able to put up the logo of information retrieval company H5 as a new sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. I described H5 in a recent article as “a cross between a commercial information consulting business and a research university” one which, I said, lays as much stress on its high-calibre people as it does on the services and software which comprise its offering to clients.

My connection with H5 goes back to my first foray into the US litigation world, at LegalTech in 2007. I went there because it had become obvious that a half-understanding of US e-discovery was acting as a brake on the UK use of electronic means to tackle electronic documents. The UK alternative was simply to ignore the fact that 90% of communication between businesses is electronic, and to take refuge in the assertion that electronic discovery was something Americans did, and did both extravagantly and expensively. Whilst we still suffer from that amongst the backwoodsmen of UK litigation, we are eroding it and replacing the image of US providers as all “Texans with tall hats” (as one of them once put it to me) with the reality of intelligent people trying to solve much the same problems as our own. Read the rest of this entry »

A proper welcome to Applied Discovery as a new sponsor

March 2, 2010

I promised a proper welcome to Applied Discovery when I put up a short post on 16 February to draw attention to the arrival of their logo. These Welcome posts are generally the only occasion when I invite collaboration on what goes into a post – generally, except where I am unsure of my facts or my authority to mention something, I write what I like. A first post to describe what a company does warrants co-authorship and, with Rob Robinson as their Senior Director of Worldwide Marketing, it seems daft for me to invent my own description. What follows is his:

Founded in 1998, Applied Discovery is a global leader in the delivery and management of electronic discovery services and support.   Part of LexisNexis since 2003 (a member of the Reed Elsevier Group), Applied Discovery leverages an extensive portfolio of resources, relationships, and research to help clients solve today’s and tomorrow’s discovery challenges.  Simply stated, Applied Discovery delivers multinational collection, analytics, processing, review and production services for law firms, corporations, and governmental entities engaged in audits, investigations, and litigation. Read the rest of this entry »


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