ILTA 2014: Big Data analytics for lawyers

September 22, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

Big data and analytics are two distinct subjects, both of which were well covered at ILTA. I group them together for these purposes because they were the joint subject of a panel discussion in which I took part. Organised by UBIC, the discussion was called Advanced analytics for the legal profession – big data challenges, analytic solutions and thoughts for the future. My co-panellists were Gerard Britton of Topiary Discovery and Yoshikatsu Shirai, Chief Client Technology Officer at UBIC, and the moderator was UBIC’s Paul Starrett.

My fellow panellists will forgive me if I focus on what I said, partly because I have the benefit of my preparatory notes, and partly because my part was deliberately intended as a summary.

The conventional Big Data discussion is all about big volumes managed by big law firms for big cases for big clients; for most lawyers that tends to make it sound like someone else’s problem. An ILTA audience is more broadly-based than most and it seemed important to me to, as it were, democratise the subject.

Big Data is not just a synonym for “lots of data”. Conventionally, it is said to comprise volume, velocity and variety; people tend to forget the fourth “v”, value. Armed with the right analytical tools, one can convert such data from being not just a record of what has happened but a source of prediction of what might happen, using what UBIC calls “behavioural informatics”. Read the rest of this entry »

ILTA 2014: Big Law begins to ride the technology wave

September 11, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

It has been fashionable in recent years to predict the end of the very large firms colloquially and collectively known as BigLaw. Whilst I have accepted the premises of this – that resistance to change, and particularly technology change, would pose serious challenges to BigLaw which not all its members would meet – I have not joined the general prediction that the end is nigh for these firms. There are a lot of lazy assumptions behind the conclusion that these firms are all alike just because they have common clients, size and areas of expertise.

The subject is one which matters (or should matter) to those who offer eDiscovery software and services, because BigLaw has traditionally been their primary market – the “low hanging fruit” in that hackneyed phrase which is so beloved of sales people and which has blinded so many of them to the potential importance of smaller players.  Big firms, along with many of their clients, have seemed like “a large, knotty, sprawling ball of legal, logistical and organisational complexity that hindered both supplier and buyer.”

This splendid phrase comes from a really interesting article by Bill Henderson on the Legal Whiteboard site called Ahead of the Curve: Three Big Innovators in BigLaw. The article covers in some detail the application of technology to the practices of the three finalists for the ILTA Most Innovative Law Firm Award – Bryan Cave, Seyfarth Shaw and Littler Mendelson. Read the rest of this entry »

ILTA 2014: Diversification the key for litigation support vendors

September 10, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

I remember an ILTA of long ago – 2008, perhaps, or 2009. There were lots of shiny new stands there – small ones on the whole, with unfamiliar names, manned by people I had never seen before. I had a sudden chill feeling, a certainty that most of these fledgling companies wouldn’t last till Christmas. I recall none of their names now.

Many eDiscovery businesses have gone since then, swallowed up by others or just disappeared. A few have arrived, mostly selling litigation support services, though a couple of new software companies have defied predictions (mine included) and seem to be thriving through a combination of good product and good marketing.

Eddie Sheehy of Nuix looks at the future of litigation support vendors in the context of ILTA 2013 in his article 5 pathways for successful litigation support vendors in 2014.

The number of customers is not growing, he says, so companies can only increase their market share at the expense of others. Apart from obvious things like a record of solid competent performance at good prices, LSVs need to add value by providing new and collateral services. Read the rest of this entry »

ILTA 2014: Technology spending survey from Inside Legal

September 9, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

On the first day of ILTA, Inside Legal released the 2014 edition of the 9th annual ILTA / Inside Legal technology purchasing survey which includes the welcome promise of increased tech spend generally.

The results which matter to my audience include a focus on mobility, cloud services, and SaaS models including analytics, plus disaster recovery, security and document management systems.

These conclusions, specifically the cloud, analytics and security, tie in with my more anecdotal survey which depends not on collected statistics but on what came up in the session, conversations which took place in ILTA week as well as in post-ILTA articles.


ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics

September 8, 2014

This post is about ILTA the event – the organisation and the experience of being there. I will write separately about the legal technology subjects which came up in the sessions and in discussion. August 1914 is my starting point for August 2014, allowing me to make comparisons between the book I am currently reading and the organisation of ILTA. If you lack the time and the patience for my comparison between the preparations for war and the planning for ILTA, jump down to the heading The logistics of ILTA.

August1914My book for the journey was August 1914 by the respected American historian Barbara Tuchman. I know how the story ends, not least because I have read the book twice before, but Tuchman manages to invest the familiar with an atmosphere of suspense as the decisions are made – to advance, retreat or dig in, to march this way or that; you read it with hands metaphorically over your eyes as pig-headedness, personal animosities and lack of intelligence (in both senses) lead inexorably to four years in the trenches, with most of France’s coal and iron production left in German hands.  Many of the mistakes had been made long before the war – mistakes of diplomacy, of judgement and, most particularly, of procurement and supply as the Allies prepared to fight the last war; generals are always getting ready to fight the last war.

Armies in 1914 to lawyers in 2014

This is not, as you may think, a precursor to an analysis of the parallels between the armies of 1914 and the lawyers of today, much as I like that kind of example. You do not have to look far to find them. French generals refused to discard the pantalons rouge which made soldiers an easy target; they disdained heavy artillery as being inconsistent with the élan expected from a philosophy which knew only of attack, and they made no provision for entrenching tools for the same reason – only defenders needed to dig in and defence was not on the agenda; newfangled aeroplanes were rejected. Meanwhile, the British Liberal government invested reluctantly in Dreadnoughts but declined to spend any money on dry docks big enough for them or on shore defences for naval bases. The parallels with the way some law firms prepare for doing business in 2014 are obvious – predictive coding anyone? Read the rest of this entry »

Browning Marean Celebration of Life Service on 20 September

August 27, 2014

I understand that Browning Marean’s Celebration of Life service will be on Saturday, 20 September at 2:00 pm at the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Escondido, 1500 S. Juniper St., Escondido, CA 92025.

Although I pass this on as coming from an impeccable source, it would be good to get some more “official” notification before booking flights etc. (once a lawyer, always a lawyer).

Since writing the above, I am told that DLA Piper has published a notice which accords with the information I was given.


Delivering eDisclosure advice from both sides of the fence: interview with Stephanie Barrett of Navigant

May 27, 2014

One of the continuing themes in eDisclosure / eDiscovery, in the UK as in the US, is about finding (and then keeping) people with appropriate skills. Wherever they work, eDisclosure people need to have their feet on two sides, one to do with legal procedures – the timelines and deadlines, the formal requirements, the resource management and the control of costs – and one to do with technology. That has its own processes which involve far more than “pushing buttons” (I use that expression because many lawyers use it as shorthand for the whole range of computer and process functions, apparently assuming that this is all you have to do).

eDisclosure (I will stick to the English term) is a new discipline, attracting people from law and from IT as well as from other areas. Legal purists dislike the term “the eDiscovery market”, but it has all the elements of a market: lawyers in corporate legal departments or in law firms have a problem to solve, and a new industry of software and services providers has sprung up to serve them, competing with each other with their differing technologies, their range of support services and, not least, the quality of the people whom they employ.

Part of that competition, as I implied in opening, is that both sides of the divide need to attract the right kind of staff. It is not unusual for people to cross the divide, moving from a software and services provider into a legal department or law firm, or vice versa.

Steph-Profile-Pic-2One such is Stephanie Barrett, who has recently joined Navigant as a managing consultant after seven years of delivering eDisclosure support at a London law firm. What is it like to make that move, I wondered. What are the similarities and differences between the roles? Is there a “dark side” and, if so, which side is it?

Chris Dale: Can you start by telling us what your role is at Navigant?

Stephanie Barrett: My role as a managing consultant at Navigant involves providing project management and consulting support, overseeing each stage of the EDRM model, along with advising on processes to maximise efficiencies and achieve value for our clients. Read the rest of this entry »


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