eDiscoveryDaily

From Artificial Intelligence to Change Management: Key Takeaways from the 2024 Future Lawyer Conference in Boston

By Rick Clark

The Future Lawyer 2024 Conference was held in Boston, MA, and hosted by Ropes & Gray LLP in their Prudential Tower offices. This two-day event hosted private practicing attorneys the first day and corporate in-house personnel the second day.

The law firm day topics hovered mostly on how Generative and Predictive AI are gaining more steam in the legal industry, with the corporate agenda track more focused on change management. What was surprising to me? The general sentiment that Generative AI is still under development but will eventually create incredible solutions for a wide array of legal processes. Potential AI applications are outlined below.

The conference was emceed by Zach Abramowitz, Founder of Killer Whale Strategies, kicked off the conference with opening remarks about the exciting growth of AI in the legal industry. His first and most powerful statement was on just one application of AI, “Legal Ops isn’t outsourcing their legal research questions”: the use of AI in Lexis Nexis and Westlaw has made it easier for in-house teams to do their own legal research rather than traditional outsourcing, and not enough teams are taking advantage of this new way of getting traditional legal work done.

In her keynote, International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) CEO Joy Heath Rush emphasized the value of “Innovation and the Race to be Second.” She highlighted at this conference that coming in second is still a win, contrasting it with the failure of those who merely follow the crowd like lemmings. She discussed the legal industry’s precedent-driven culture, noting that innovation isn’t limited to technology but can also mean improved processes. To innovate effectively, she advised defining success, setting realistic quality levels, valuing quick wins for hypothesis testing, reviewing, and iterating, and accepting limited failure to encourage safe innovation. Her key message: race to be second when it makes sense but avoid being a lemming.

Building an Innovative Legal Workforce

In the “Building an Innovative Legal Workforce – Hiring Strategies and Skills for Private Practice Firms” panel, industry experts shared their insights on fostering innovation within law firms. Josh Rosenzweig of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP emphasized that innovation is about differentiation and driving change across departments. Steve Gluckman of Skillburst, a digital learning company for law firms, highlighted that innovation stems from culture and doesn’t always require a technological component or grand initiatives. Amy Tenney Curren from Morrison & Foerster LLP underscored the importance of a growth mindset and broad thinking, while Madelyn Mateo from Skadden Arps LLP pointed to the necessity of creating a safe space for sharing ideas to encourage a culture shift.

When discussing how firms can empower employees to share innovative ideas, the panel agreed that an open and safe environment is crucial. Gluckman noted that client expectations are evolving, with clients demanding efficiency, effectiveness, and advanced technology and soft skills. Curren added that junior attorneys should be equipped with knowledge beyond traditional lawyering, including business acumen and relationship-building skills. Rosenzweig suggested that firms should also focus on improving operations to meet client needs.

Looking to the future, the panel discussed the evolving landscape of law firms with innovation and hiring. Curren observed a growing interest in technology among law school graduates and the need to adapt to the changing workforce, especially with GenZ. Gluckman proposed eliminating the “lawyer/non-lawyer” terminology to foster a unified firm culture. Mateo emphasized the importance of agility and iterative processes, while Rosenzweig highlighted the value of leveraging external partners to bridge gaps in workforce and technology.

Regarding new job skills, Mateo mentioned the need for expertise in product and project management, data understanding, and implementation. Rosenzweig emphasized the role of Customer Success Managers to support attorneys with technology platforms. The panel also discussed change management as a crucial component of professional development. Curren stressed the importance of aligning change management with the firm’s business strategy, while Gluckman advocated for microlearning and continuous education.

In closing, the panelists shared key insights for building an innovative legal workforce. Rosenzweig advised seeking curious candidates and aligning innovation teams with firm culture. Curren emphasized the importance of intentional planning and identifying champions. Gluckman encouraged embedding innovation throughout a company’s culture, and Mateo highlighted the value of ideas from all levels. Moderator Toby Franklin concluded with a reminder to be intentional about skill development and to look outside the organization for new perspectives.

ABC’s of Legal Products

In the “ABC of Legal Products” session, panelists delved into the evolving landscape of legal services, focusing on Alternative Legal Services Providers, Building New Solutions, and Meeting New Client Expectations. Thomas Hansteen, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of legal tech company Etain, moderated the discussion with insights from Joe Davis, Management of Knowledge Management Solutions at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Peter Hitson, Director of Legal Project and Practice Management at Carlton Fields, LLP , Kyle Dumont, Sr. Director of Transformation and User Experience at Morgan Lewis & Backius LLP, and Jesse Klee, Practice Innovation Manager at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

Defining Innovation in Legal Products

Joe Davis emphasized the distinction between the practice and business of law, stressing that legal products should elevate the practice of law and enhance client relationships. Peter Hitson added that products should either simplify lawyers’ work or add client value to drive profitability. Kyle Dumont highlighted the importance of a firm’s brand perception in determining the products needed, while Jesse Klee discussed the balance between addressing business technology issues and maintaining focus on core legal practice.

Triggers and Processes for Implementing New Technology

The panelists debated the buy vs. build approach to legal technology. Hitson mentioned that while traditional sales processes are common, there’s a shift towards proactively defining business requirements before seeking solutions. Dumont noted the importance of understanding organizational culture and making a compelling case to stakeholders for any change. Klee warned against over-collaboration, suggesting a focused initial team for tech rollouts. Davis pointed out that sometimes existing technology can meet needs without new acquisitions.

The discussion turned to what triggers the search for new technology. Klee observed that many initiatives originate from attorneys’ experiences with technology but finding time for strategic planning amid daily work is challenging, as Dumont noted. Hitson recommended engaging with staff to identify challenges directly. Davis highlighted the difficulty of promoting new solutions without initial success, especially in a remote work environment.

Funding and Measuring Success

When it comes to funding and measuring the success of technology implementations, Klee mentioned that budgets often come from IT or specific departments, with metrics like usage and feedback being crucial. Dumont suggested using Internal Net Promoter Scores to gauge success. Hitson emphasized the importance of showing ROI, particularly in the context of alternative fee arrangements. Davis pointed out that attorney satisfaction is a key indicator of a solution’s success, often assessed through direct feedback.

Building vs. Buying Solutions

Finally, the panelists discussed preferences for building or buying solutions. Davis and Hitson preferred buying, noting the practicality of hybrid low-code options. Dumont described it as a spectrum, emphasizing outcome over process and the importance of providing value to clients. Klee expressed a desire to build more but acknowledged the practicality and lower risk of buying, especially with gaps in internal expertise. Dumont concluded that leveraging contractors and automation for iterative development can be effective, reinforcing that law firms should focus on their core competencies.

Overall, the session underscored the need for strategic, client-focused approaches to innovation in legal services, balancing the benefits of building and buying technology solutions while keeping an eye on culture, practical implementation, and measurable success.

Enhancing Litigation with Generative AI: Efficiency, eDiscovery, and Future Prospects

In the “Enhancing Litigation with Generative AI: Efficiency, eDiscovery and Future Prospects” session, Shannon Kirk, Managing Principal at Ropes & Gray, and Maribel Rivera of ACEDS explored the transformative impact of Generative AI (Gen AI) on litigation. Kirk highlighted that Gen AI is set to revolutionize budgeting and staffing in litigation, particularly in document review, which constitutes up to 80% of litigation costs. She raised concerns about how Gen AI will complicate ESI (Electronically Stored Information) protocols and the potential misuse of productions by opposing parties through AI.

Rivera noted the judiciary’s lack of familiarity with eDiscovery technology and their apprehension towards Gen AI and deepfakes. Kirk added that standing orders now often require certifications on the use of AI, which is not yet clearly defined. She shared insights on piloting various platforms for document review, pointing out that while auto-review can be more efficient, large document reviews still face significant cost and choke points—challenges she expects will soon be addressed.

Kirk reminisced about the evolution from manual document review in warehouses to current technologies like TAR (Technology-Assisted Review), predicting that AI will be the next major iteration. Rivera emphasized that attorneys are increasingly becoming storytellers through the use of AI.

When asked if Gen AI will leapfrog TAR or if both will coexist, both experts affirmed that there is room for both technologies. Kirk concluded by stressing the importance of developing ESI protocols and advocating to judges for the necessary adjustments to accommodate these advancements.

Navigating Generative AI and Predictive AI in the Legal Landscape

In the “Navigating Generative AI and Predictive AI in the Legal Landscape: Practical Insights Beyond the Hype” session, industry leaders discussed the practical applications and future potential of AI technologies in legal practice. Chris Haley, Vedika Mehera, James Ding, Dan Rabinowitz, and Nordo Nissi shared their expertise on how AI can be leveraged to enhance efficiency and accuracy in legal tasks.

Nordo Nissi of Goulston & Storrs highlighted the use of Generative AI (Gen AI) for case management tasks, such as analyzing deposition transcripts to identify specific issues and creating custodian profiles. Vedika Mehera, Orrick Labs emphasized AI’s role in legal research, summarizing depositions, and connecting ideas and concepts. James Ding, Draftwise, pointed out that in transactional law, AI helps in summarizing, extracting, and generating contract content, promoting consistency and efficiency. Dan Rabinowitz of Pre-Dicta explained that Predictive AI is uniquely used to predict behavior in court, like how Google serves ads based on user behavior.

Choosing AI Solutions and Implementing Them

The panel discussed how to identify and implement AI solutions. Mehera noted that innovation teams need to work closely with attorneys to build solutions tailored to specific challenges, breaking down big ideas into manageable steps. Nissi suggested examining write-offs to see if AI could help mitigate them. Ding emphasized that solving clients’ problems is key to success, while Mehera added that Gen AI has universal applications. The importance of internal champions was underscored by Nissi, who recommended using prompts like branded swag to remind teams to use the AI platforms. Rabinowitz highlighted the need to reassure attorneys that AI augments rather than replaces their expertise, enhancing case strategy.

From Identification to Adoption

The transition from identifying to adopting AI solutions was another focal point. Nissi stressed the need for internal champions and consistent reminders to encourage platform use. Rabinowitz and Ding both emphasized the importance of showing how AI can solve specific problems to drive adoption. Mehera mentioned that excitement about AI can motivate learning and adoption, while Ding predicted that the advancements in technology over the next five years would be astonishing. Haley added a powerful reminder: “If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevancy even less.”

Looking Ahead: The Impact of AI on Legal Practice

The session concluded with reflections on the broader impact of AI. Haley remarked that while this isn’t the first technological revolution in the legal industry, the principles that got us here will continue to guide us, albeit in unpredictable ways. He also stressed the value of conferences and events in helping legal professionals stay ahead of the curve. As the panelists agreed, AI’s potential to transform the legal landscape is immense, and staying informed and adaptable will be crucial for success.

Change Management for Corporate Legal Teams

In the second day keynote session “Navigating the Winds of Change: Effective Change Management in Corporate Legal Teams,” Kyle Pankratz, VP of Legal Strategy at MasterCard, discussed the critical need for change management within legal departments. Pankratz emphasized that legal teams often function as a “black box,” inherently resistant to change due to their traditional nature and fear of the unknown. This resistance makes effective change management essential for any transformation initiatives.

One of the primary obstacles to implementing change is the ad hoc approach often taken by legal teams. Pankratz argued that this is not a sustainable strategy. Instead, he proposed a method based on empathy, enthusiasm, and execution. By empathizing with team members, demonstrating genuine enthusiasm for the changes, and executing plans efficiently, leaders can ease the transition process. This approach helps to secure early buy-in from the teams affected, which is crucial for maintaining momentum throughout the rollout. As more team members adopt the changes, a positive feedback loop is created, encouraging even greater participation.

Pankratz illustrated his point with a powerful example: a video showing a lone dancer gradually joined by a crowd, symbolizing how initial buy-in can lead to widespread adoption. This example highlights the importance of getting a few people to commit early, as their participation can inspire others to follow.

In summary, effective change management in corporate legal teams requires a strategic approach that considers the audience and culture. By clearly demonstrating the value of the changes and addressing the challenges they solve, leaders can successfully kick off new initiatives and guide their teams through the winds of change.

Change Management in Corporate Legal Teams

In the session “Operating the Change: Navigating Change Management in Corporate Legal Teams,” industry experts shared their insights on adapting to cost structures and implementing new technologies within legal departments. Sam Breen, Legal Counsel Privacy at Philips North America, Frank Yu, Assistant General Counsel at GoDaddy, Martin Petraitis, Executive Vice President and Sr. Deputy General Counsel at Advance, Katya Fisher, Chief Legal Officer at Construction Group, and Derek Mogck, Head of Legal Operations at Munich Re America Services, Inc., provided a comprehensive overview of how their teams navigate change.

Derek Mogck emphasized the importance of aligning technological advancements with the specific needs of the legal department through a process of diagnosis and design. This approach ensures that any new initiatives are strategically relevant. Martin Petraitis highlighted the challenges faced by small legal departments with limited budgets. He pointed out that a tech-forward Chief Legal Officer (CLO) can play a pivotal role in forming committees to explore how AI can enhance processes. Petraitis also underscored the significance of involving legal operations in building contract lifecycle management (CLM) systems and suggested seeking advice from external sources who have undergone similar implementations to gain early buy-in.

Katya Fisher shared her perspective on the future of CLM, suggesting that the focus should shift to plug-ins and integrations rather than completely replacing existing technologies. She argued that incremental enhancements, such as those provided by Microsoft Outlook, can often be more beneficial than disruptive overhauls. Frank Yu agreed on the utility of CLM as a central repository and anticipated the evolution towards a more advanced 2.0 version.

When it comes to upskilling legal teams and driving technology adoption, Mogck introduced the WILL framework: Why, Interest, Look, and Lean In. He advised starting with understanding the strategic alignment (“Why”), identifying team members’ interests (“Interest”), learning from other teams’ experiences (“Look”), and embracing new technologies proactively (“Lean In”). Yu added that effective change management involves recognizing the various personality types within legal teams and addressing their specific concerns. Understanding that change management is essentially pain management can aid in crafting effective change proposals.

Sam Breen cautioned against the “lift and shift” approach, which can obscure the challenges (“pain train”) associated with implementing changes. Instead, a transparent and well-structured approach is necessary to ensure a smooth transition and adoption of new technologies.

In summary, navigating change management in corporate legal teams involves strategic alignment, incremental technological enhancements, comprehensive upskilling, and a keen understanding of team dynamics. By following these guidelines, legal departments can effectively manage change and drive innovation.

In the recent panel on “Maximizing Legal Efficiency: Strategies for Flexibility and Innovation,” industry leaders Kiran Mallavarapu (Executive Vice President, Legal Operations at Liberty Mutual Insurance), Sara Ann Ludwiszewski (Legal Shared Services at Salesforce), Kate Corrie (General Counsel at Comply360/Vistair), Colleen E. Freeman (VP Global Litigation at UnitedLex), and Shannon Moesaa (VP Commercial and Healthcare Compliance Counsel at Karuna Therapeutics) discussed the crucial role of innovation and technology in modern legal departments.

Focus on Innovation and Technology

Kate Corrie emphasized that legal departments must look beyond their own scope and consider the broader organization to keep pace with change. As business operations increasingly rely on mobile technology, legal teams need to ensure they can respond flexibly and efficiently to business objectives. Colleen Freeman highlighted the rise of remote work, which has amplified the role of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) as partners to in-house legal teams. ALSPs help vet new technologies, saving time and resources for in-house departments. Sara Ann Ludwiszewski shared how Salesforce’s legal operations leverage their platform for comprehensive project management, from intake to completion, while enabling management to track project statuses effectively. Shannon Moesaa noted the importance of aligning legal innovations with corporate goals, citing the use of chatbots to manage requests as an example of leveraging emerging technologies for flexibility and efficiency.

Prioritizing Innovation

When it comes to prioritizing innovation, Shannon Moesaa suggested focusing on low-hanging fruit and initiatives that simplify processes, such as setting up online forms to reduce time spent on requests. Creating roadmaps for infrastructure development, spanning one to three years and beyond, helps guide these efforts. Sara Ann Ludwiszewski pointed out that prioritization often depends on who is requesting the technology or service, with requests from the C-suite typically taking precedence.

Innovation in Corporate In-House Departments

Kate Corrie defined innovation as creatively solving problems, sometimes using existing resources rather than adopting new technologies. Understanding the tools already in place can often lead to effective solutions. Shannon Moesaa added that it’s essential to understand problems from various perspectives—legal, compliance, business—and start with small tweaks. Sara Ann Ludwiszewski noted that sometimes innovation involves identifying and discontinuing practices that no longer serve the organization effectively.

Adapting to Change

Colleen Freeman underscored the importance of agility in regulated industries, where compliance requirements frequently change. Leveraging tools and processes, such as Generative AI, can aid in updating policies and procedures swiftly in response to new regulations.

In summary, the panelists agreed that the key to maximizing legal efficiency lies in embracing both technological advances and strategic innovation. By prioritizing initiatives that align with broader business goals and starting with manageable changes, legal departments can enhance their flexibility and responsiveness, driving greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Conclusion

As you can see, the two-day conference covered a lot of ground from artificial intelligence, legal operations, eDiscovery, and change management. Typically, I attend eDiscovery conferences where the content is near-exclusively focused on how to modernize processes in AI and data discovery. It was enlightening to be exposed to many other aspects of legal technology, including leading innovation and change management initiatives, and the practical application of GenAI for legal.

Do you want to attend an upcoming legal innovation conference and live in the New York City area? CloudNine and Integreon will be hosting an ILTA Roadshow at Morgan Lewis on July 23 on large scale review and handling modern data, and will also be attending the Master’s Conference in New York July 24-25. Contact us if you would like to learn more and receive a complimentary pass to either event.

The 2024 Masters Conference in Chicago: A Comprehensive Recap

By Rick Clark

Since the inaugural Masters Conference in Washington DC in 2006, I have cherished how these conferences create a space for community engagement, learning from timely educational content, and exchanging ideas on how to improve how legal work gets done. While I’ll share my professional takeaways, I want to begin by expressing my gratitude for the Masters Conference legal community.

I don’t know exactly what it is, but I always return home from these single-day conferences feeling like a better person. The day’s conversations and networking events enable me to form deep relationships that positively impact me personally and professionally. Perhaps it’s the shared experience of navigating the complex world of eDiscovery, or our collective work ethics. Regardless of the reason, these events inspire me to be a better employee, technologist, and person.

Special thanks to Kelly Twigger, Jill Rorem, Daryl Greene, Cat Casey, and the entire Masters Conference team.

Professional Insights and Sessions

On the professional front, I learned a great deal, including insights from a session that delved deeply into the world of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI). Most sessions I attended revolved around the impacts and management of modern data.

The first session I attended was “Navigating the Hybrid eDiscovery Terrain: A Closer Look at Automation and Resource Efficiency.

Panelists:

Ryan Merholz – GeorgeJon – Technical Services
Chris Bojar – Barack Ferrazzano LLP – Director of eDiscovery
John Evans – Perkins Coie LLP – Digital Forensics Consultant
Mira Edelman – Dish Network – Senior Corporate Counsel
Paul Noonan – United Airlines – Managing Counsel – eDiscovery and Information Governance

Key Takeaways:

Chris Bojar: Automation is more manageable with a small team, but implementing automated workflows in an eDiscovery review platform can significantly reduce human errors. Ticketing systems help standardize request requirements, while Software as a Service (SaaS) enables easy scaling and cost savings. By leveraging cloud infrastructure, firms avoid the expense of maintaining peak usage hardware.

John Evans: Data volumes and types have expanded significantly, making automation crucial. Forensic tools have become more effective in processing data, and web capture technologies have streamlined data collection through automation.

Mira Edelman: Integrations offer new automation opportunities, especially for in-house teams. Ticketing systems foster collaboration between IT and legal departments. Automated tasks through matter management systems improve efficiency. Companies need integration plans when acquiring others with different systems to maintain healthy operations. Manual processes should be deployed temporarily until full integration is achieved.

Paul Noonan: Rogue corporate communication platforms pose challenges in data collection. Automated processes in preservation, collection, and processing are essential. Connectors enhance automation, and insourcing helps control and automate preservation and collection tasks. Interoperability among eDiscovery platforms is beneficial as different platforms excel in various areas.

The second session I attended was an overview of what could be a master’s program class on Large Language Models. I took a few notes and takeaways, but there is MUCH more for me to learn here. The session was titled “LLM’s Unmasked: A Deep Dive into Legal Industry Realities.

Panelists:

Dr. Igor Labutov – LAER AI – Founder & CEO
Sanjay Manocha – LAER AI – Chief Growth Officer

Key Takeaways:

Sanjay Manocha: Building AI models with written instructions and document examples can automate review and data extraction across enterprise data. This involves using AI to maintain factual accuracy in responses, whether via email or chat, and validating results through prototypes.

Dr. Igor Labutov: During pre-training, a lack of content can lead to hallucinations or incorrect information in LLMs. To leverage LLMs reliably, pretraining must ensure world (refers to the accuracy of the AI’s responses based on real-world facts and information.) case (based on case data), and legal knowledge (based on general legal knowledge) accuracy. The correctness of responses depends on the data embedded in the LLM. Challenges include scalability to millions of documents, validation difficulties, error accumulation, lack of transparency, and limited reasoning capabilities.

To evaluate LLM solutions, create datasets, measure retrieval performance (precision/recall), and assess the engine’s end-to-end performance. LAER AI’s approach involves leveraging multiple data sources and models for more accurate outcomes.

Another insightful session covered “The Data Explosion and Attorneys’ Ethical Duty of Technical Competence

Panelists:

Jenny Schroeder – Disco
Alisa McLellen – Disco
Dennis Garcia – Microsoft
Daniel Kelly – Sidley Austin LLP
Tony Baskin – Perkins Coie LLP

Key Takeaways:

Dennis Garcia: Competence has improved, especially with the technology adoption surge during the pandemic. Younger employees and user-friendly platforms help bridge the skill gap, enhancing overall competence.

Tony Baskin: Advanced review platforms allow attorneys to engage directly with data, reducing communication gaps and enabling more hands-on involvement. States are introducing new ethical guidelines to ensure technical competence.

Competency Areas:

Data Security
Electronic Discovery
Technology for efficient practice management
Technology used by clients
Technology for courtroom presentations

Dennis emphasized the importance of embracing change despite initial challenges, while Tony encouraged seeking better, more efficient methods for tedious tasks.

Final Thoughts

I am profoundly grateful to the eDiscovery community and events like the Masters Conference for keeping me up to date with technology and workflow trends in managing modern data. These conferences not only enhance my professional skills but also provide an opportunity to connect with incredible industry professionals. Thank you all!

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

My Experience at the Washington DC Masters Conference

By Rick Clark

The Masters Conference in Washington, DC, on April 17th, 2024, was a bustling event with crowded sessions throughout the day. The agenda featured a diverse range of topics, such as Modern Data, Link Files, eDiscovery Case Law, and Artificial Intelligence, making it an exceptional experience for attendees. In this article, I will highlight my favorite takeaways from the sessions I attended, although the depth of insights was so rich that I must keep this summary brief. If you haven’t attended a Masters Conference recently or ever, I highly recommend making the trip to at least one this year.

The first session, with standing room only, kicked off the discussion on how Modern Data is becoming more necessary in eDiscovery and investigations.

In the session Modern Data and Devices in Transit, the panel discussed the new challenges and the updated solutions through collecting, processing, and reviewing modern data, from cell phones to X (Twitter) and everything in between. The discussion started with the decisions needed to collect a custodian’s data and get these data into review. The panel consisted of Kevin M. Clark with Right Discovery, Jason Voss with Converse Data, Nick Eglevsky with Blank Rome, Mable Tun with Freddie Mac, Alicia Clausen with Crowell Moring, and Amanda Strassner Merrill with Capital One. The challenges presented ranged from missing attachments/link attachments, quality control in data processing for review, collection considerations on devices, especially around privacy, and deriving context from a variety of data existing in a case.

The solutions for those challenges seemed to have some great technological and workflow remedies. For instance, Nick Eglevsky stated that the links found in emails (rather than attached documents) will require additional quality control measures to ensure the production requirements are met. Mable Tun weighed in with the need to have targeted collections or a step to cull out personal data from smartphone evidence due to privacy concerns. The consensus from the panel was that the modern data challenges can be met with reasonable and simplified workflows as technology and processes have caught up with the complexities of these data.

The second session I attended was the breakout session Data Privacy in the Age of Digital Transformation – Harnessing the Benefits of AI in Information Governance and Data Protection. This session was a great tag team style presentation with Charles Lavallee and Tom Skelly with Infinnium, discussed data governance and Mike Gaudet and Antonio Rega with JSHeld discussed the importance of privacy and data analysis. The main takeaways were:

  • AI in Data Privacy, Where to Begin? The integration of solid data management with effective Information Governance is crucial for ensuring the privacy, protection, and quality of data.
  • AI is increasingly playing a pivotal role in Information Governance, proving its worth in real-world applications such as policy management, cookie compliance, and privacy investigations.
  • Introducing Profiler.AI by Infinnium, the latest advancement in their robust IG solution, 4iG®. This innovation marks a significant leap in data privacy management and breach investigation, streamlining the process of identifying entities, reviewing data, and quickly generating notification lists by automating the association of PII to entities.

The session before lunch was a neat short discussion format with Robert Keeling from the host firm, Sidley Austin discussed the importance of diversity, equity (DEI) and inclusion in the law firm environments. DEI, Keeling stated, makes better lawyers and benefits the industry because the variety of cultures and experiences paint the complete picture. Teddy Benson, Director of Data Architecture and Platforms with Universal discussed important aspects of artificial intelligence including bias and how that can impact prompting results. His advice was to be as descriptive as possible with prompts being at least 100 words with a cap of around 150. Lastly, Maribel Rivera gave a mic dropping discussion on being the CEO of your personal brand. Her message was clear that no matter how big or little you are investing in your brand with online presence, professional networking and content creation, you are presenting your brand and spending more time growing and improving those three areas will present equally great opportunities.

The last call out was the breakout session with Kelly Twigger and Daryl Greene from eDiscovery Assistant. The caselaw update presented by Twigger was a great reminder that modern data is important to include in eDiscovery. The three cases discussed were*:

Hunters Capital v. City of Seattle:

The City of Seattle and several of its officials failed to preserve ESI related to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). The City failed to issue litigation holds to the officials, and several of the officials had their city-owned phones reset at Apple Stores, deleting all prior text messages. Plaintiffs asked the Court to enter default judgment against the City, or, in the alternative, for an adverse-inference instruction. The Court found that the City had spoliated evidence and awarded Plaintiffs attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result.

Beacon v. BMW

Beacon Navigation GmbH (“Beacon”) failed to timely disclose source code from its third-party vendor, Harman, which was necessary evidence for infringement. The Court found that Beacon had violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e) by not supplementing its infringement contentions in a timely manner but did not exclude the ESI.

Doe LS 340 v. Uber Techs., Inc.

The Court ordered Uber to disclose basic details surrounding its litigation hold, including the names and titles of employees notified of the hold and the dates of such notifications, in order for Plaintiffs to evaluate whether Uber has met its preservation obligations for Electronically Stored Information relevant to the litigation.

*Summaries provided by eDiscovery Assistant and their AI integration that generates a summary of their cases.

Overall, the conference provided a single day packed with days’ worth of great content and attracted many new attendees. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet new industry leaders and reconnect with familiar faces. I’m eagerly looking forward to attending the Chicago Masters on May 15th, hosted by Seyfarth Shaw, and I hope to see you there!

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

How to Evaluate Technologies and Companies for Public Records/FOIA Requests

(This is the fifth and final blog in a five-part series on streamlining public records request response.)

By Rick Clark

When starting the journey in changing your processes around managing these requests, it can be like a hiker staring up a mountain from the base, but it does not have to be that difficult. Many eDiscovery platforms have standardized processes in data management and review for decades and there are eDiscovery providers, like CloudNine, who have created an easy path to success with not only the technology, but advice is streamlining processes with public requests.

Here are some questions to ask a technology company you are looking to work with to help solve FOIA and request management issues.

  • How can this product help me solve workload issues when fulfilling Public Records Requests?
  • How does the system help with the public requestors’ experience?
  • How does the platform offer customizable workflows to adapt to our agency’s specific needs and processes?
  • Can the system create a centralized repository of all requests, and track and report on metrics such as response times, request volumes, and outcomes?
  • Does the platform offer features for securely redacting sensitive information from documents?
  • What measures does the platform have in place to ensure data security and protect against unauthorized access?
  • Does the company offer any additional services or resources to help agencies improve their FOIA and request management processes?
  • How does the platform handle large volumes of data or complex requests?
  • Can the system generate audit trails or logs to track changes and ensure accountability in the request management process?
  • How does the pricing structure work, and what are the costs associated with implementing and maintaining the platform?
  • What kind of training and support does the company provide to help our team effectively use the platform?

These questions can help you evaluate the suitability of a platform for your agency’s needs and ensure that it can help you achieve your goals in managing FOIA and request management processes as a baseline.

Our “Ultimate Guide to Managing Public Records Response” takes a deep dive into why asking some of these questions is important and give further context to the technology, people, and processes in managing FOIA and public records requests. Download it today.

Find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set time to meet with us.

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

Improving Processes to Streamline Public Records/FOIA Request Response

(This is the fourth blog in a five-part series on streamlining public records request response.)

By Rick Clark

Managing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or similar public records requests in State or Local government agencies is a complex process that requires meticulous attention to detail and adherence to strict timelines. While having the right technology and skilled personnel is crucial, efficient processes are equally important to ensure compliance with transparency laws and provide timely responses to requests.

The first step in the FOIA request management process is the receipt of the request. Requests can be submitted through various channels, such as mail, email, or online portals, depending on the agency’s procedures. Once a request is received, it is reviewed to determine the scope and nature of the information being requested. The request is then assigned to the appropriate department or individual for processing.

The next step is the search and retrieval of the requested documents. This involves conducting a thorough search of the agency’s records, including physical files, electronic databases, emails, and other relevant sources of information. Once the documents are retrieved, they are reviewed to determine if any information is exempt from disclosure under FOIA. Exemptions may include classified information, personal privacy information, or other sensitive material.

If any exempt information is found, it is redacted from the documents before they are released to the requester. Once the documents have been reviewed and any necessary redactions have been made, they are approved for release by the designated authority within the agency. The agency then notifies the requester of the decision on their FOIA request and provides them with a copy of the requested documents, if applicable.

FOIA requires agencies to respond to requests within a certain time limit, typically 10 to 20 days. If more time is needed to process the request, the agency must notify the requester and provide an estimated completion date. The agency must also maintain records of all FOIA requests received, including the request itself, any correspondence with the requester, and copies of the documents provided in response to the request.

In the fifth and final blog of this series, you will learn how to evaluate technologies to speed public records request response.

Read the blogs #1-3 of the series here on reducing the time and cost of records requests response here.

Find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set time to meet with us.

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

Resourcing Your Public Records/FOIA Requests Response with a Lean Team

This is the third blog post in a series on streamlining public records request response.

By Rick Clark

When it comes to managing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and similar public records requests, resourcing your team effectively is crucial. Even with a small team, you can achieve a lot by appointing an expert internally and implementing a few key strategies. Begin by identifying which departments receive the most FOIA requests. Assign a lead within each department to work closely with the FOIA Clerk or the person responsible for managing FOIA requests within your organization. For example, in a city with 100,000 residents, your FOIA team might include a clerk, the administrative staff for the Public Works Department, the Building Department, and any other relevant departments. The clerk should be the central point of contact for FOIA requests, but the leads in each department should be responsible for ensuring their department meets deadlines and provides the necessary information to the clerk in a timely manner.

Collaborate as a team to create a plan for sharing and retaining documents. By proactively publishing information that the community is interested in, you can reduce the number of FOIA requests over time. This not only saves time but also increases transparency and engagement with the community. Establishing clear goals can help drive improvements in your FOIA process. Consider goals such as reducing delivery times for responses, minimizing the internal time spent on each request, and increasing the overall efficiency of your team. Regularly review these goals and adjust your strategies as needed to achieve them.

Make the most of available technology to streamline your FOIA process. Ensure your team is fully trained in using any software or tools that can help reduce the time spent fulfilling requests. This might include data/document management systems, request tracking software, or other tools designed to improve efficiency and organization.

As data volumes and variety grow, it will be important to augment people and processes to accommodate the growing requests or press your software provider to enhance the platforms for more efficient data management.

By implementing these strategies and appointing an internal expert to lead your FOIA team, you can effectively manage public records requests even with limited resources.

Read our first blog post in this series, “Growing Challenges with Public Records Requests.”

To find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set time to meet with us.

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

How eDiscovery Technology and Workflows Speed Public Records Requests Response

This is the second blog post in a series on streamlining public records request response.

By Rick Clark

In the two separate worlds of legal processes and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/public records requests, eDiscovery technology and standard workflows have emerged as powerful ways to streamline operations and ensure compliance. Particularly, the handling of FOIA requests and public records requests showcases the potential similarities between these processes and eDiscovery workflows.

One key similarity lies in the meticulous management of data, starting from governance levels and progressing through collection, processing, review, and export stages. Both FOIA requests and eDiscovery workflows require focused information retrieval, often involving large volumes of data. While FOIA requests aim to access government records, eDiscovery deals with electronic information for legal proceedings, both necessitating efficient data organization and retrieval mechanisms.

Legal and regulatory compliance is another shared aspect. FOIA and public records requests are legally mandated, mirroring the legal frameworks that govern eDiscovery processes. Ensuring easy data organization and adherence to legal and regulatory frameworks is critical in both contexts. Search and review processes are central to both FOIA requests and eDiscovery workflows. Leveraging search tools and methodologies, both processes sift through vast amounts of data to identify relevant information. eDiscovery software platforms excel in simplifying this process, allowing for quick identification, tagging, and export of pertinent data, enhancing efficiency in handling requests.

Redaction of sensitive information is also common to both FOIA and eDiscovery. Tools and techniques are employed to protect sensitive details, including personal identifiable information (PII) before disclosure. Modern data challenges, including the use of multiple communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack, further highlight the need for adaptable and comprehensive data management solutions.

Efficient workflow management is crucial for both FOIA requests and eDiscovery. Complex workflows require seamless coordination among stakeholders to meet legal deadlines and ensure accurate responses. Transparency and collaboration among legal teams, IT professionals, and subject matter experts are vital for success.

While differences exist between FOIA requests and eDiscovery, advancements in eDiscovery software have made it adaptable to public requests. Providers offering secure cloud solutions, easy data uploads, case setup with team access, hybrid workflows, advanced search capabilities, and collaboration tools are aligning their offerings with the needs of modern data and document management systems. As organizations navigate the complexities of data requests and investigations, choosing the right technology partner is essential to ensuring efficient, compliant, and transparent processes.

In our next blog out next week, you will learn more about resourcing teams to fulfill public records requests when resources are lean.

To find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set a time to meet with us.

Read our first blog post in this series, “Growing Challenges with Public Records Requests”.

About the Authors

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

What are the Growing Challenges with Public Records/FOIA Requests?

By Rick Clark

The number of public records requests filed each year is on the rise, presenting a significant challenge for government agencies. One of the core obstacles faced by these agencies is the tight timing constraints imposed by laws governing these requests. Failure to meet these deadlines can result in severe consequences. To effectively manage these requests, agencies must augment their processes with people, processes, and technology. Some of the additional challenges include:

Volume of Requests: The high volume of requests can overwhelm agencies with limited resources. This includes staffing and technology, making it difficult to process requests efficiently.: The high volume of requests can overwhelm agencies with limited resources. This includes staffing and technology, making it difficult to process requests efficiently.

Resource Constraints: Limited budgets further compound the issue, hindering the ability of agencies to respond effectively to public requests.

Complexity of Data: Some requests involve extensive research and the retrieval of various data types, especially with new applications for communicating, making fulfillment time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Sensitive Information: Balancing transparency with privacy and national security concerns can be challenging. Agencies must redact or withhold certain information to comply with laws.

Lack of Standardization: Inconsistent record-keeping practices across agencies can lead to difficulties in locating and retrieving requested information.

Legal Compliance: Ensuring compliance with various public records laws requires agencies to navigate complex requirements, with failure leading to legal consequences.

Timeliness: Meeting deadlines for responding to requests is crucial to avoid legal repercussions and maintain public trust.

Public Relations and Accountability: Agencies risk negative public perception if they are perceived as unresponsive or withholding information.

Training and Awareness: Insufficient training and awareness among staff can contribute to inefficiencies in processing requests.

Technology Challenges: Outdated information management systems may impede the efficient retrieval and dissemination of records.

Technology Adoption: Some agencies struggle to adopt modern technologies for managing requests, hindering the process.

Litigation Risks: Disputes over the release or withholding of information can lead to litigation, adding complexity and risk.

In our new blog series out this week, you will learn that addressing these challenges requires improved technology, training for staff, standardized procedures, and a commitment to transparency. Collaborative efforts between government levels and stakeholders can also enhance responses to requests. By addressing these challenges, agencies can effectively manage the growing number of public records requests and while meeting customer service expectations.

Find out more about how CloudNine can help you to streamline public records request response with our cloud-based eDiscovery solution and set time to meet with us here.

About the Authors

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

The 2024 California CIO Academy: Musings From an eDiscovery Guy

By Rick Clark

Spending the past 20+ years in forensics, eDiscovery, and investigations has kept me in a legal conference circuit lane, but this week I stepped into a new and interesting adjacent world: information technology leadership in public service. This conference is formally called the California Public Sector CIO Academy and its organizer, e.republic, hosted over 800 attendees from all over the state.

When preparing to attend the conference, I reviewed the agenda, speakers and keynotes and was pleasantly surprised that most of the curriculum was focused on personal and professional development, leadership upskilling, and public speaking advice. At first, I wondered why there wouldn’t be deep dives into generative artificial intelligence, or the latest in IT strategies and technology, but rather the focus was dominantly professional development with themes like making a difference, skilling up in career and communication in today’s CIO role and mastering executive presence to name a few.

My highlights could easily end up being a long form article after taking pages and pages of notes, but my favorites are the following standouts that all hover around personal and professional development.

The keynote, Guy Kawasaki, formerly of Apple, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Chief Evangelist of Canva and Author of “Think Remarkable” enthusiastically set the tone for the conference with some incredible insights in how we can best make a difference in our career and personal lives.

His list of 10 keys to making a difference were all gold, but what especially stood out to me were:

  • Work backwards when building a platform, service, or process. Start with what you know the customers want. The process allows a customer-centric focus from the beginning. This process can be even as simple as trying to address change management in deploying a new process or platform or can be a new public facing experience like what the California Department of Motor Vehicles completed with their website. This takeaway mirrored a similar example discussed throughout the conference with Amazon writing the press release of the platform they are beginning to build.
  • Go See; Go Be. As a creator of a new process or platform, continue to have the team go through the customer/user journey. Be the customer and work through the same experience the end-user will be journeying.
  • Get Unique and Valuable. The best position to be in is when your product or service is both unique and valuable. For example, if you are rolling out a new platform and it is just unique, but has no value, it will be near impossible to get off the ground.

The breakout session that I attended first was titled “The Expanding Realm of Today’s CIO,” with Maisha Dottery, the CIO of the Department of Community Services and Development with the State of California moderating. Speakers included state-level representatives Thomas Boon, CIO, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz); Don Foley, Chief Information Officer, Deputy Director, Office of Environmental Information Management, Department of Toxic Substances; Quentin Wright, CIO, Chief Information Officer, Department of Technology; Calvin McGee II, CIO Chief Information Officer, Department of Real Estate; plus Michael Rockstein, Director, Consulting Services, CGI and Shaw-chin Chiu, IBM, Managing Client Partner.

The lively discussion had an engaging flow. Panelists first covered practical approaches to understanding the evolution of technology in the past 10 years before transitioning to the evaluation of emerging technology to homing in on the strategic or tactical aspects of department growth.

Boon stated that IT doesn’t hang on to technology like they used to 10 years ago, as now they must keep asking “what’s next” to ensure they are keeping up to date. He even went further to say that he blocks out Wednesdays as “vendor day” to ensure that he is up to date with the evolving technology offerings.

McGee echoed a similar sentiment by saying that it used to be about “the building,” but in today’s remote work lifestyles that people and technology are no longer just in the building, with many platforms moving to the cloud.

The question was then posed as to how remote work has impacted staff and departments. Don Foley emphatically stated that communication must be more intentional as in-office interactions are more available, whereas remote workers may not seem as accessible.

Lastly, the question was posed: is a strategic or tactical focus necessary for proper departmental growth? The response from McGee was that there needs to be focus on both, but individually. This is done by selecting those team members who will focus on strategic growth and direction while others are tactically getting the tasks done to get the organization there.

The breakout session discussion on “Mastering Executive Presence” danced between personal, interpersonal, and professional development. This session was moderated by Mike Driessen, VP at Government Technology and state-level panelists Christine Blake, Product Manager, Health and Human Services Agency, Center for Data insights and Innovation; Michael Muth with the same agency and Sam Silva, CIO, Office of Technology Services, Department of Pesticides Regulation.

The panel relayed points of success that began with Muth discussing how public-facing projects always have a human-centered design in mind. If IT can see how effective it is in the field, it can translate that effectiveness to the screen when developing web-based solutions. Blake emphasized the importance of IT leadership pulling together the programmers to develop a positive end-user experience that builds trust with the public. Silva offered to ask the end-users to share their stories, so that they can understand the challenges that need to be solved.

After the practical discussion on product and project management, the conversation moved to soft-skill development and laid out practical ways to improve your communication skills and interpersonal relationships, including the following points:

  • Christine Blake:
    • Be an active listener (not waiting for your turn to talk) and that will help you build trust and accomplish goals with that relationship
    • When speaking with executives, communicate at a high level only. Getting into the details will almost guarantee a loss of interest
    • Leverage your emotional intelligence and pay attention to non-verbal communications by how people are responding to you and your message. If they are looking away or at their phone, find a way to get them to engage
    • Being vulnerable shows strength rather than weakness because it is difficult to do, and people will respect this
  • Michael Muth:
    • Speak in a way that your audience will understand…don’t speak above or below your specific audience whether it is one person or a group.
    • Working virtually has allowed most of us to multitask during meetings and will take some learning to not do so when getting back in person.
  • Sam Silva:
    • Continually ask for feedback so you can grow personally. Have a growth mindset
    • Be intentional (with your interactions) and don’t multitask. Doing so can show your respect for the person who is talking
    • Bring joy to the people around you regardless of position, education, or any other factor

Many more insights were shared on day 2 on effective leadership in the technology space, which we will include in a future blog.

If you work in city, county or state government and are interested in learning more about how CloudNine can help speed your response to public records requests, contact us today to learn more.

About the Authors

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.

How to Win in the Short Message eDiscovery Game: Review Near-Native; Produce as Documents

Since the inception of legal processes in ancient societies, documents have been pivotal in evidence and discovery. In recent years, with the rise of email and electronically stored information (ESI), technology companies have standardized review and production processes around these data, converting them into the standard source of discovery: documents. This process has been functional and the data quite usable, until the advent of short messaging in business and personal communications.

Starting with the end in mind, the format we seek to produce for the requesting party is still a document. This format makes the most sense, as it can display short messages as a fluid document showing the conversation, with redactions of confidential messages, alongside all other relevant data. However, the processing and review process for short messages often follows the same document conversion and review process, even though it is the least efficient way to review this data.

But why is the processing and review process subject to the same document conversion and review process when it is the least efficient way to review these data?

Issues with document review of short messages are:

  • Context of cross-channel conversations – Many people will start conversations in one channel like email, switch to a corporate chat application like Slack or MS Teams and may end in a 30-minute phone conversation. When the data is in a linear document review workflow it is extremely difficult to stitch those conversations together.
  • High costs in document review – Whether the message is converted to individual documents or conversations are converted to 24-hour conversations or any variation, reviewing document by document and redacting within those documents is tedious and costly as the time to do so is significant.
  • Data volumes impact hosting costs – The conversion of short message metadata into documents creates a high data footprint that is expensive with “cost per gigabyte” hosting models. This is good for service and software providers, but not for the end client.

Given the growing volumes and diverse types of data dominating investigations and discovery processes, it is crucial to explore more efficient strategies for analysis and review. These strategies should provide better contextual understanding while mitigating costs. It is evident that short message communications differ significantly from emails and e-files, requiring a different approach in the processing and review phases of the EDRM.

The most efficient and effective approach to short message discovery is to render conversations in a “near-native” view for analysis and review where the conversation looks like a document, but the underlying data is the metadata and all media as a part of the conversations.

Example of a Near-Native conversation segment

Example of a Near-Native conversation segment

Benefits of a near-native review of short messages are:

  • Easy import of data to a review platform: Rather than processing and loading documents, short message collections can be directly imported into the review platform.
  • Tag items at the message level: This allows for more granular tagging and categorization of messages.
  • Produce only relevant messages: By reviewing messages at the message level, only relevant messages need to be produced, reducing unnecessary data production.
  • Automatic redactions: The review platform can automatically redact confidential or privileged messages, reducing the manual effort required.
  • Display all media inline: Videos, GIFs, and audio files can be displayed in line with messages, providing a more comprehensive view of the communication.
  • Export options: The review platform should offer export options that accommodate all document and load file types, ensuring compatibility with various systems and processes.

Here’s what this can look like with the right technology solution:

Visual of conversation using CloudNine

Visual of conversation using CloudNine

If you want to learn more about handling short message data efficiently and effectively in eDiscovery, set up time to learn more about CloudNine Analyst here.