Given the number of conferences which I attend in a year, it is unsurprising that many of them merge together in my recollection. There is a finite range of subject headings; similarities between jurisdictions outweigh the differences; many of the speakers turn up at several events; the conference centres may vary in detail, but the rooms are much the same whatever the country. I wake up some mornings and have to think where I am.
If that sounds like a criticism (and you come across people who like to sneer at this sameness), I rarely hear a presentation which does not bring something new to the debate. The pool of speakers and the range of subjects may be small, but the spotlight shifts, priorities change, and different permutations of speakers cast new light on their subjects.
One conference from last year which stands out in my recollection, and for a number of reasons, was the LawTech Europe Congress in Prague. If the Clarion Congress hotel is much like any other venue, the audience was very different, the speakers more varied and the range of subjects broader than at most conferences which I attend.
This is partly implicit in its title – electronic evidence, computer forensics, cyber security and legal technology. It is not therefore just an eDiscovery conference, although eDiscovery is about evidence, it depends on forensics, it increasingly overlaps with cyber security and it is obviously about legal technology.
I have written before about Fred Gyebi-Ababio, the founder and enthusiastic mover behind LTEC. He is aided this year, as last, by Sasha Hefler, the organising and marketing genius behind so many events and products (I don’t do recommendations as a rule, but if you want some oomph put into a marketing exercise, Sasha Hefler is the one you need on your side; she is also ubiquitous, and I have long stopped being surprised to find her running the show when I go to events).
The keynote speaker this year is Paul Salazar who is head of healthcare litigation and litigation information management at Siemens AG in Munich. I have had the pleasure of sharing panels with
Paul Salazar and he is a good choice as keynote speaker. Siemens has more experience than most in dealing with the kinds of issues which form the subject-matter at LTEC, and Paul is eloquent on the causes and on solutions.
The conference is split into two tracks, one for educational and explanatory sessions and one for demonstrations.
My own panel is on the subject of court control over expenditure, with a focus on the objectives of the rules, the parties and the courts. I am joined by Damian Murphy, barrister of Enterprise
Chambers in Newcastle, who impressed at IQPC’s Information Governance and eDiscovery Exchange in London in May. Damian has a background in management consultancy, a strong technical grasp (are there any other UK
barristers who keep a copy of eDiscovery Tools on their desk?) and a keen focus on that word “objectives” which appears in our conference session description. My panel also includes Carl Obayi, another hybrid simultaneously qualified as an English solicitor and a forensics and eDiscovery expert – not many people can put both “Solicitor” and “MCSE” after their name.
Andrew Haslam of Allvision leads a panel on enterprise information management, focusing on the advantages of a dispute resolution readiness plan, its role in compliance and eDiscovery, and its effect on the bottom line. He is joined by Browning Marean of DLA Piper US, Jiří Matzner of Oracle, Tomáš Hulle of PPIT and, not least, Alex Dunstan-Lee who has recently joined Navigant from KPMG.
Jim Kent of Nuix moderates a panel which looks at the increasing volume, types and complexity of electronic evidence and considers techniques for managing them to get to the evidence. He is joined by Robert Lewis of Barclays Bank, Ady Cassidy of Nuix and Andy Domaille of the Guernsey Police.
Mobile data raises problems of its own and Yuval Ben Moshe of Cellebrite considers not only the technical issues but points about admissibility and proportionality. His panel includes Patrick Burke of Reed Smith, known to me for years as Assistant General Counsel at Guidance Software, and the always excellent Jo Sherman of eDiscovery Tools.
These extracts from the programme ae enough, I think, to show that this conference covers a broad range of subjects relevant to eDiscovery and its constituent components of forensics, security and technology.
Prague sits at the centre of a very large region whose economic important increases. The big consulting firms like Deloitte and EY are inevitably present in such places (and at the conference) and stand to be the eDiscovery winners whether for litigation or for regulatory investigations. That dominance-by-default can be challenged by those familiar with the region, and attending an event like this is an easy way to start to get the feel of the area.
One of my sessions last year was interrupted by a gentleman who called out “This is all fairytales, you know that?”, going on to explain that local judges knew little or nothing about electronic discovery. That is to miss the point. As trade and business with foreign countries, including the rest of the EU and the US, continues, so there must inevitably be an increase in US-led litigation and in interventions by
regulators from both the US and the EU as well as local ones. That is reason enough for law firms and for providers of software and services to be at this conference.
If that is not enough for you, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. The conference, held over two days this year, is on Monday and Tuesday, making it an easy decision to go to Prague for the weekend and enjoy out. There are good commercial reasons for wanting to be there as well.