I have no particular ambition to write up events as soon as they finish. Distance lends perspective, and anything worth reporting at all will be as valuable a couple of months later. The Civil Procedure Rules of England and Wales gave me enough to be getting on with at the tail end of last year and I only now turn to what was covered at the Lawtech Europe Congress in Prague, the second one organised there by Frederick Gyebi-Ababio.
My own interview filmed on the day gives a summary of why it is important to hold events in central Europe, and correspondingly important for eDiscovery people be there. Prague sits in the middle of a big region and one which is full of potential, not least because of its trade with the US. It is important for businesses and those who advise them to understand the expectations of US discovery, both because they have to face it and because it will become increasingly necessary for these jurisdictions to adopt their own discovery rules – as I say in the interview, a jurisdiction which establishes the content and validity of documents by notarised prints or screenshots has some catching up to do.
This is not just because of litigation – we see a activity by regulators from the US, the EU and within each region, all of whom wants to know what the story is. The story lies in the electronic evidence, and whilst much of the interest perhaps still lies in criminal investigations, civil eDiscovery cannot be avoided. Those who provide professional and technical services will cede the ground to the big four consultants, who are already there for other reasons, if they do not register their presence to some extent.
Paul Salazar of Siemens gave the keynote address, sponsored by Exterro. He ranged broadly over the duties of internal counsel, describing the processes which they must develop in order to anticipate and manage eDiscovery demands.
The emphasis on process can easily obscure the importance of data as evidence. Yuval Ben Moshe of Cellebrite opened the show with a panel whose focus was eDiscovery and the rise of evidence on mobile devices. He had as his panel members Patrick Burke eDiscovery Counsel at Reed Smith, Jo Sherman of edt. and Damian Murphy, an English barrister establishing his own chambers specialising in eDisclosure.
Between them they gave us a good balance between the technical components and the need to focus on what really matters. It is not necessary for proportionality to be enshrined in the rules to get the idea that resources must be proportionate to what you are trying to achieve.
My first panel covered the relationship between scope, method and cost – how much do you need to collect, what is the best way of doing it, and how do you keep the costs within reasonable bounds whilst doing a good job?
I was extremely lucky in that my panel for this, with Chad McManamy, Assistant General Counsel at Guidance Software, Patrick Burke (a former Guidance Software AGC), barrister Damian Murphy and Karl Obayi who brought a mixture of legal and technical experience to the subject. Guidance Software specialises in the identification and extraction of eDiscovery data, both with its EnCase forensic, eDiscovery and security tools and with the consulting services offered by its AGC team, including Chad.
A panel moderated by Andrew Haslam of Allvision and comprising Alex Dunstan-Lee of Navigant, Browning Marean of DLA Piper US, Jiří Matzner of Oracle and Tomáš Hulle of PPIT brought the focus back to the planning which a company ought to do in anticipation of eDiscovery demands, stressing the advantages of a dispute resolution plan whose target was both compliance and the bottom line. Andrew Haslam has written up that session here.
My second session, sponsored by Huron Legal, was concerned with privacy and data protection, with a panel including Patrick Burke, Browning Marean, Janaka Alwis of Huron Legal and Mattias Aggeler of Swiss FTS AG.
As always in these privacy sessions, I try to combine a certain amount of stark realism – this is undoubtedly a problem which causes significant difficulty and expense – with practical suggestions for reducing risk and achieving a balance between the (often legitimate) demands for information with growing restraints on the use, and particularly the export, of data. This should not be seen merely as a reactive exercise, something to be done when live problems appear. Both Paul Salazar and Andrew Haslam’s panel, with their focus on pre-emptive preparation, had value to give here.
As last year, this was an enjoyable as well as an instructive event. The best conferences combine learning with a city worth visiting in its own right. I was taken out to dinner on succeeding nights, first by Huron Legal and then by Jo Sherman and EDT, to the restaurant whose windows look out on the view shown here (exhaustive sampling by my wife and I last year established that this had the best food in Prague). It is worth going to Prague to eat there, quite apart from the value to be derived from Fred Gyebi-Ababio’s events.
In addition to the photographs which appear above, there is a set of pictures here. You might also be interested in video recordings which I made of Browning Marean, and of Jo Sherman and Damian Murphy, each of whom focused on different aspects of the evidence which lies in new and easily overlooked devices. There are some other videos to come, which I will mention in due course and the conference has its own set of videos here.