Collection

eDiscovery Trends: It’s 10 PM, Does Apple Know Where You Are?

 

Over 30 years ago, local TV stations across the country ran this ad, asking the question “It’s 10 PM, do you know where you children are?”

Today, they could ask the question of many iPhone and iPad users, “It’s 10 PM, does Apple know where you are?”

According to Bloomberg on Monday, “Apple Inc. (AAPL) was sued for alleged privacy invasion and computer fraud by two customers who claim the company is secretly recording and storing the location and movement of iPhone and iPad users, according to a federal complaint filed…in Tampa, Florida.”

Vikram Ajjampur, an iPhone user in Florida, and William Devito, a New York iPad customer, sued April 22 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, seeking a judge’s order barring the alleged data collection and requesting refunds for their phones.

The lawsuit references a report from two computer programmers who indicated that “those of us who own either an iPhone or iPad may have been subjected to privacy invasion since the introduction of iOS 4.0” (operating system).  The report claims that Apple’s iOS4 operating system is logging latitude-longitude coordinates along with the time a spot is visited, is collecting about a year’s worth of location data, and logs location data to a file called "consolidated.db", which is unencrypted and unprotected.

“We take issue specifically with the notion that Apple is now basically tracking people everywhere they go,” Aaron Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said. “If you are a federal marshal, you have to have a warrant to do this kind of thing, and Apple is doing it without one.”

In addition to the Florida lawsuit, the Illinois Attorney General has asked to meet with Apple executives to discuss these reports and French, German, Italian and South Korean regulators are also investigating the alleged location collection feature as a result of the programmers’ report.

So far, Apple has not commented – officially.  However, MacRumors reports that Steve Jobs has responded to one emailer who requested “Maybe you could shed some light on this for me before I switch to a Droid. They don't track me.”  To which Jobs allegedly responded, “Oh yes they do. We don't track anyone. The info circulating around is false.  Sent from my iPhone.”

True or False?  We’ll hopefully see.  It seems that every week there is a new type of data that can be relevant to the eDiscovery process, doesn’t it?

So, what do you think?  Have you been involved in a case where GPS location data was relevant?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Trends: 2011 eDiscovery Errors Survey

 

As noted in Legal IT Professionals on Friday, LDM Global on Friday announced the results of its 2011 eDiscovery Errors survey. The company asked a selection of industry professionals their views on which errors they experienced most often during the discovery process. Results were collected from across the USA, Europe and Australia.

According to Scott Merrick, LDM Global Marketing Director and survey author, “Our goal was to find out what the real, day to day issues and problems are around the discovery process.”  He also noted that “Of particular interest was the ongoing challenge of good communication. Technology has not solved that challenge and it remains at the forefront of where mistakes are made.”

The respondents of the survey were broken down into the following groups: Litigation Support Professionals 47%, Lawyers 30%, Paralegals 11%, IT Professionals 9% and Others 3%.  Geographically, the United States and Europe had 46% of the respondents each, with the remaining 8% of respondents coming from Australia.  LDM Global did not identify the total number of respondents to the survey.

For each question about errors, respondents were asked to classify the error as “frequently occurs”, “occasionally occurs”, “not very common” or “never occurs”.  Based on responses, the most common errors are:

  • Failure to Effectively Communicate across Teams: 50% of the respondents identified this error as one that frequently occurs
  • An Inadequate Data Retention Policy: 47% of the respondents identified this error as one that frequently occurs
  • Not Collecting all Pertinent Data: 41% of the respondents identified this error as one that frequently occurs
  • Failure to Perform Critical Quality Control (i.e., sampling): 40% of the respondents identified this error as one that frequently occurs
  • Badly Thought Out, or Badly Implemented, Policy: 40% of the respondents identified this error as one that frequently occurs

Perhaps one of the most surprising results is that only 14% of respondents identified Spoliation of evidence, or the inability to preserve relevant emails as an error that frequently occurs.  So, why are there so many cases in which sanctions have been issued for that very issue?  Interesting…

For complete survey results, go to LDMGlobal.com.

So, what do you think?  What are the most common eDiscovery errors that your organization has encountered?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Case Law: Conclusion of Case Does Not Preclude Later Sanctions

In Green v. Blitz U.S.A., Inc., (E.D. Tex. Mar. 1, 2011), the defendant in a product liability action that had been settled over a year earlier was sanctioned for “blatant discovery abuses” prior to the settlement. Defendant was ordered to add $250,000 to its settlement with plaintiff, to provide a copy of the court’s order to every plaintiff in every lawsuit against defendant for the past two years or else forfeit an additional $500,000 “purging” sanction, and to include the order in its first responsive pleading in every lawsuit for the next five years in which defendant became involved.

Defendant, a manufacturer of gasoline containers, was named in several product liability lawsuits, including this case in which plaintiff alleged that her husband’s death was caused in part by the lack of a flame arrestor on defendant’s gas cans. The jury in plaintiff’s case returned a verdict for defendant after counsel for defendant argued that “science shows” that flame arrestors did not work. The case was settled after the jury verdict for an undisclosed amount, but two years later, counsel for plaintiff sought sanctions and to have the case reopened after learning in another case against defendant that while the gas can lawsuits were underway, defendant had been instructing its employees to destroy email.

The court described defendant’s failure to implement a litigation hold as gas can cases were filed. A single employee met with other employees to ask them to look for documents, but he did not have any electronic searches made for documents and he did not consult with defendant’s information technology department on how to retrieve electronic documents.

The court held that defendant willfully violated the discovery order in the case by not producing key documents such as a handwritten note indicating a desire to install flame arrestors on gas cans and an email noting that the technology for flame arrestors existed given the common use of flame arrestors in the marine industry. “Any competent electronic discovery effort would have located this email,” according to the court, through a key word search. Defendant’s employee in charge of discovery did not conduct a key word search and, despite acknowledging that he was as computer “illiterate as they get,” did not seek help from defendant’s information technology department, which was routinely sending out instructions to employees to delete email and rotating backup tapes every two weeks while the litigation was underway.

The court declined to reopen the case since it had been closed for a year. However, based on its knowledge of the confidential settlement of the parties, the court ordered defendant to pay plaintiff an additional $250,000 as a civil contempt sanction to match the minimum amount that the settlement would have been if plaintiff had been provided documents withheld by defendant. The court also ordered a “civil purging sanction” of $500,000 which defendant could avoid upon showing proof that a copy of the court’s decision had been provided to every plaintiff in a lawsuit against defendant for the past two years. The court added a requirement that defendant include a copy of the court’s opinion in its first pleading in any lawsuit for the next five years in which defendant became a party.

As Yogi Berra would say, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”.

So, what do you think?  Should cases be re-opened after they’re concluded for discovery violations?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Case Summary Source: Applied Discovery (free subscription required).  For eDiscovery news and best practices, check out the Applied Discovery Blog here.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

eDiscovery Best Practices: Your ESI Collection May Be Larger Than You Think

 

Here’s a sample scenario: You identify custodians relevant to the case and collect files from each.  Roughly 100 gigabytes (GB) of Microsoft Outlook email PST files and loose “efiles” is collected in total from the custodians.  You identify a vendor to process the files to load into a review tool, so that you can perform first pass review and, eventually, linear review and produce the files to opposing counsel.  After processing, the vendor sends you a bill – and they’ve charged you to process over 200 GB!!  What happened?!?

Did the vendor accidentally “double-bill” you?  That would be great – but no.  There’s a much more logical explanation and, unfortunately, you may wind up paying a lot more to process these files that you expected.

Many of the files in most ESI collections are stored in what are known as “archive” or “container” files.  For example, as noted above, Outlook emails are typically saved for each custodian in a personal storage (.PST) file format, which is an expanding container file. For most custodians, all of their email (and the corresponding attachments, if present) resides in a few PST files.  The scanned size for the PST file is the size of the file on disk.

Did you ever see one of those vacuum bags that you store clothes in and then suck all the air out so that the clothes won’t take as much space?  The PST file is like one of those vacuum bags – it typically stores the emails and attachments in a compressed format to save space.  When the emails and attachments are processed into a review tool, they are expanded into their normal size.  This expanded size can be 1.5 to 2 times larger than the scanned size (or more).  And, that’s what many vendors will bill on – the expanded size.

There are other types of archive container files that compress the contents – .zip and .rar files are two examples of compressed container files.  These files are often used to not only to compress files for storage on hard drives, but they are also used to compact or group a set of files when transmitting them, usually in – you guessed it – email.  With email comprising a majority of most ESI collections and the popularity of other archive container files for compressing file collections, the expanded size of your collection may be considerably larger than it appears when stored on disk.  It’s important to be prepared for that and know your options when processing that data, so you can effectively anticipate those processing costs.

So, what do you think?  Have you ever been surprised by processing costs of your ESI?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Case Law: Spoliate Evidence, Don’t Go to Jail, but Pay a Million Dollars

 

As previously referenced in eDiscovery Daily, defendant Mark Pappas, President of Creative Pipe, Inc., was ordered by Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm to  “be imprisoned for a period not to exceed two years, unless and until he pays to Plaintiff the attorney's fees and costs that will be awarded to Plaintiff as the prevailing party pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(C).”.  Judge Grimm found that “Defendants…deleted, destroyed, and otherwise failed to preserve evidence; and repeatedly misrepresented the completeness of their discovery production to opposing counsel and the Court.”

However, ruling on the defendants’ appeal, District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis declined to adopt the order regarding incarceration, stating: “[T]he court does not find it appropriate to Order Defendant Pappas incarcerated for future possible failure to comply with his obligation to make payment of an amount to be determined in the course of further proceedings.”

So, how much is he ordered to pay?  Now we know.

On January 24, 2011, Judge Grimm entered an order awarding a total of $1,049,850.04 in “attorney’s fees and costs associated with all discovery that would not have been un[der]taken but for Defendants' spoliation, as well as the briefings and hearings regarding Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions.”  Judge Grimm explained, “the willful loss or destruction of relevant evidence taints the entire discovery and motions practice.” So, the court found that “Defendants’ first spoliation efforts corresponded with the beginning of litigation” and that “Defendants’ misconduct affected the entire discovery process since the commencement of this case.”

As a result, the court awarded $901,553.00 in attorney’s fees and $148,297.04 in costs.  Those costs included $95,969.04 for the Plaintiff’s computer forensic consultant that was “initially hired . . . to address the early evidence of spoliation by Defendants and to prevent further destruction of data”.  The Plaintiff’s forensic consultant also provided processing services and participated in the preparation of plaintiff’s search and collection protocol, which the court found “pertained to Defendants’ spoliation efforts.”

So, what do you think?  Will the defendant pay?  Or will he be subject to possible jail time yet again?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Case Law: No Sanctions for Scrubbing Computers Assumed to be Imaged

 

When scrubbing data from a computer drive related to litigation, it’s a good idea to make absolutely sure that there is another copy of that data, via backup or forensic image.  Don’t just take someone’s word for it.

In Federal Trade Commission v. First Universal Lending, LLC, No. 09-82322-CIV, (S.D. Fla. Feb. 17, 2011), the FTC investigated the defendants for their mortgage modification practices by alleging that defendants had violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and that defendants had acted in violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule. For the duration of the investigation, the court appointed a temporary receiver who took control of defendants’ business premises.

During the discovery stage, the FTC wanted to preserve relevant data that was on defendants’ computers and servers by imaging them. When defendants’ were ask about the locations of all relevant computers and servers, they failed to reveal the location of servers with relevant data. As a result, these servers were not imaged and thus the data was not preserved. Due to misleading testimony by defendants, the receiver believed that all computers and servers had been imaged. Because of the incorrect belief that all of the relevant data had been preserved, the receiver permitted defendants to scrub the computers and sell them. It turned out that some of these were the ones that had not been imaged.

Defendants filed a motion to enjoin the prosecution and/or moved for dismissal of the case due to plaintiff’s spoliation of evidence. Defendants asserted that the FTC had either destroyed or caused to be destroyed computer evidence that would prove all of the defendants’ defenses.

The court found no basis for imposing sanctions against the FTC for the destruction of defendants’ computer system and denied defendants’ motion. The court established that it can impose an adverse inference against a party where the court finds that the party has engaged in spoliation of evidence. For this inference to be applicable there has to be a finding of bad faith. A court can make this finding through direct evidence or circumstantial evidence. If bad faith is based on circumstantial evidence, the following prerequisites must be present: (1) evidence once existed that could fairly be supposed to have been material to the proof or defense of a claim at issue in the case; (2) the spoliating party engaged in an affirmative act causing the evidence to be lost; (3) the spoliating party did so while it knew or should have known of its duty to preserve the evidence; and (4) the affirmative act causing the loss cannot be credibly explained as not involving bad faith by the reason proffered by the spoliator.

The court found that there was no direct evidence of bad faith. Further it pointed out that defendants failed to establish bad faith by circumstantial evidence, since the FTC had not destroyed the computer systems, but rather, the defendants did. The court went on to state, that even assuming, arguendo, that defendants destroyed the hard drives due to the receiver’s agent’s instruction, it did not change the fact that neither the receiver, nor the agent is the FTC.

Furthermore, the court went on that to the extent that defendants’ position could be construed to seek to attribute blame to the FTC for the receiver’s instruction to scrub the computers based on the FTCs misstatement, there was no malicious motive on the FTC’s investigator evident. This was at most negligent, and negligence is not sufficient for an adverse inference instruction as a sanction for spoliation.

Further, the defendants did not demonstrate that the absence of the missing data was fatal to their defense because it was established that alternative sources of information existed.

At last, the court emphasized that the FTC was under no obligation to preserve defendants’ evidence, especially considering the fact that the FTC never had control or dominion over the computers – the receiver did.

So, what do you think?  What are your procedures for ensuring data backup before destruction?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Case Summary Source: eLessons Learned Blog.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

eDiscovery Trends: Facebook’s Self-Collection Mechanism

One of the most enlightening revelations resulting from my interview with Craig Ball at LegalTech (published last Friday) was regarding a feature that he mentioned which Facebook added late last year that allows any user to download their information.  I thought it was such a significant bit of information that a post dedicated to the feature (in addition to the coverage in the interview) was warranted.

This feature is available via the Account Settings menu and enables users to collect their wall posts, friends lists, photos, videos, messaging, and any other personal content, save it into a Zip file and download the Zip file.  Craig also wrote about the feature in Law Technology News last month – that article is located here.

When you initiate the download, especially if you’re an active Facebook user, it may take Facebook a while to gather all information (several minutes or more, mine took about an hour).  Eventually, you’ll get an email to let you know that your information is packaged and ready for download.  Once you verify your identify by providing your password and click “Download Now”, you’ll get a Zip file containing a snapshot of your Facebook environment in a collection of HTML files with your Wall, Profile and other pages and copies of any content files (e.g., photos, videos, etc.) that you had uploaded.

Think about the significance of this for a moment.  Now, 500 million users of the most popular social network on the planet (which includes not just individuals, but organizations as well) have a mechanism to “self-collect” their data for their own use and safekeeping.  Or, they can “self-collect” for use in litigation.  In his article, Craig likens Facebook’s download function to Staples’ famous easy button.  How can an attorney argue an overly burdensome collection when you simply have to click a button?

With a social network behemoth like Facebook now offering this feature, will other social network and cloud solution providers soon follow?  Let’s hope so.  As Craig notes in his article, “maybe the cloud isn’t the eDiscovery headache some think”.  Spread the word!

So, what do you think?  Have you been involved in a case that could have benefited from a cloud-based self-collection tool?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Trends: Craig Ball of Craig D. Ball, P.C.

 

This is the ninth (and final) of the LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year and asked each of them the same three questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?
  2. Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Craig Ball.  Craig is a prolific contributor to continuing legal and professional education programs throughout the United States, having delivered over 600 presentations and papers.  Craig’s articles on forensic technology and electronic discovery frequently appear in the national media, including in American Bar Association, ATLA and American Lawyer Media print and online publications.  He also writes a monthly column on computer forensics and e-discovery for Law Technology News called "Ball in your Court," honored as both the 2007 and 2008 Gold Medal honoree as “Best Regular Column” as awarded by Trade Association Business Publications International.  It’s also the 2009 Gold and 2007 Silver Medalist honoree of the American Society of Business Publication Editors as “Best Contributed Column” and their 2006 Silver Medalist honoree as “Best Feature Series” and “Best Contributed Column.””  The presentation, "PowerPersuasion: Craig Ball on PowerPoint," is consistently among the top rated continuing legal educational programs from coast-to-coast.

What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?

Price compression is a major trend.  Consumers are very slowly waking up to the fact that they have been the “drunken sailors on leave” in terms of how they have approached eDiscovery and there have been many “vendors of the night” ready to roll them for their paychecks.  eDiscovery has been more like a third world market where vendors have said “let’s ask for some crazy number” and perhaps they’ll be foolish enough to pay it.  And, if they don’t pay that one, let’s hit them with a little lower number, mention sanctions, give them a copy of something from Judge Scheindlin or Judge Grimm and then try again.  Until finally, they are so dissolved in a pool of their own urine that they’re willing to pay an outrageous price.  Those days are coming to an end and smart vendors are going to be prepare to be able to demonstrate the value and complexity behind their offerings.

I am seeing people recognizing that the “gravy train” is over except for the most egregious challenging eDiscovery situations where numbers really have little meaning.  When you’re talking about tens of thousands of employees and petabytes of data, the numbers can get astronomical.  But, for the usual case, with a more manageable number of custodians and issues, people are waking up to the fact that we can’t keep reinventing this wheel of great expense, so clients are pushing for more rational approaches and a few forward thinking vendors are starting to put forward some products will allow you to quantify what your exposure is going to be in eDiscovery.  We’re just not going to see per GB processing prices that are going to be measured in the double and triple digits – that just can’t go, at least when you’re talking about the raw data on the input side.  So, I’m seeing some behind the firewall products, even desktop products, that are going to be able to allow lawyers and people with relatively little technical expertise to handle small and medium sized cases.  Some of the hosting services are putting together pricing where, though I haven’t really tested them in real world situations, are starting to sound rational and less frightening.

I’m continuing to see more fragmentation in the market and I would like to see more integrated products, but it’s still like packaging a rather motley crew of different pieces that don’t always fit together well at all.  You’ve got relatively new review tools, some strong players like Clearwell and stronger than they used to be players like Relativity.  You’ve got people “from down under” that are really changing the game like Nuix.  And, you’ve got some upstarts – products that we’ve really not yet heard of at all.  I’m seeing at this conference that any one of them has the potential of becoming an industry standard.  I’m seeing some real innovation, some real new code bases coming out and that is impressive to me because it just hadn’t been happening before, it’s been “old wine in new bottles” for several years.

I also see some new ideas in collection.  I think people are starting to embrace what George Socha would like for me to aptly call the left side of the EDRM.  A lot of people have turned their heads away from the ugly business of selecting data to process and the collection of it and forensic and chain of custody issues and would gather it up any way they liked and process it.  But, I think there are some new and very viable ways that companies are offering for self-collection, for tracking of collection, for desk side interviews, and for generation and management of legal holds.  We’re seeing a lot of things emerging on that front.  Most of what I see in the legal hold management space is just awful.  That doesn’t mean it’s all awful, but most of it is awful.  It’s a lot of marketing speak, a lot of industry jargon, wrapped around a very uncreative, somewhat impractical, set of tools.  The question really is, are these things really much better than a well designed spreadsheet?  Certainly, they’re more scalable, but some have a “rushed to market” feel to me and I think it’s going to take them some time to mature.  Everyone is jumping on this Pension Committee bandwagon that Judge Scheindlin created for us, and not everyone has brought their Sunday best.

As for social media, it is a big deal because, if you’re paying attention to what’s happening with the generation about to explode on the scene, they simply have marginalized email.  Just as we are starting to get our arms around email, it’s starting to move off center stage.  And, I think the most important contribution to eDiscovery in 2010 has occurred silently and with little fanfare and I’d like to make sure you mention it.  In November, Facebook, the most important social networking site on the planet, very quietly provided the ability for you to package and collect, for personal storage, the entire contents of your Facebook life, including your Wall, your messaging, and your Facemail.  For all of the pieces of your Facebook existence, you can simply click and receive it back in a Zip file.  The ability to preserve and, ultimately, reopen and process that data is the most forward thinking thing that has emerged from the social networking world since there has been a social networking world.  How wonderful that Facebook had the foresight to say “you know, it would be nice if we could give people their entire Facebook stuff in a neat package in a moment in time”.

None of the others have done that yet, but I think that Facebook is so important that it’s going to make that a standard.  It’s going to need to be in Google Apps, it’s going to need to be in Gmail.  If you’re going to live your life “in the cloud”, then you’re going to have to have a way to grab your life from the cloud and move it somewhere else.  Maybe their portability was a way to head off antitrust, for all I know.  Whatever their motivation, I don’t think that most lawyers know that there is essentially this one-click preservation of Facebook.  If a vendor did it, you would hear about it in the elevators here at the show.  Facebook did it for free, and without any fanfare, and it’s an important thing for you to get out there.  The vendor that comes out with a tool that processes these packages that emerge, especially if they announce it when the Oscars come out {laugh}, is well positioned.

So, yes, social networking is important because it means that a lot of things change, forensics change.  You’re just not going to be able to do media forensics anymore on cloud content.  The cloud is going to make eDiscovery simpler, and that’s the one thing I haven’t heard anybody say, because you’ll have less you’ll need to delete and it’s much more likely to be gone – really gone – when you delete it (no forensics needed).  Collection and review can be easier.  What would you rather search, Gmail or Outlook?  Not only can Outlook emails be in several places, but the quality of a Google-based search is better, even though it’s not built for eDiscovery.  If I’m going to stand up in court and say that “I searched all these keywords and I saw all of the communications related to these keywords”, I’d rather do it with the force of Google than with the historically “snake bitten” engine for search that’s been in Outlook.  We always say in eDiscovery that you don’t use Outlook as a review and search tool because we know it isn’t good.  So, we take the container files, PSTs and OSTs and we parse them in better tools.  I think we’ll be able to do it both ways. 

I foresee a day not long off when Google will allow either the repatriation of those collections for use in more powerful tools or will allow different types of searches to be run on the Gmail collections other than just Gmail search.  You may be able to do searches and collect from your own Gmail, to place a hold on that Gmail.  Right now, you’d have to collect it, tag it, move it to a folder – you have to do some gyrations.  I think it will mature and they may open their API, so that there can be add-on tools from the lab or from elsewhere that will allow people to hook into Gmail.  To a degree, you can do that right now, by paying an upgrade fee for Postini, where they can download a PST with your Gmail content.  The problem with that is that Gmail is structured data, you really need to see the threading that Gmail provides to really appreciate the conversation that is Gmail.  Whereas, if you pull it down to PST (except in the latest version of Outlook, which I think 2010 does a pretty good job of threading), I don’t know if that is replicated in the Postini PST.  I’ll have to test that.

Office 2010 is a trend, as well.  Outlook 2010 is the first Microsoft tool that is eDiscovery friendly, by design.  I think Exchange 2010 is going to make our lives easier in eDiscovery.  We’re going to have a lot more “deleted” information hang around in the Windows 7 environment and in the Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010 environment.  Data is not going away until you jump through some serious hoops to make it go away.

I think the iPad is also going to have quite an impact.  At first, it will be smoke and mirrors, but before 2011 bids us goodbye, I think the iPad is going to find its way into some really practical, gestural interfaces for working with data in eDiscovery.  I’ve yet to see anything yet but a half-assed version of an app.  Everyone rushed out and you wanted some way to interface with your product, but they didn’t build a purpose-built app for the iPad to really take advantage of its strengths, to be able to gesturally move between screens.  I foresee a day where you’ll have a ring of designations around the screen and you’ll flip a document, like a privileged document, into the appropriate designation and it will light up or something so that you know it went into the correct bin – as if you were at a desk and you were moving paper to different parts of the desk.  Sometimes, I wonder why somebody hasn’t thought of this before.  I’ve done no metrics, I’ve done no ergonomic studies to know that the paper metaphor serves the task well.  But, my gut tells me that we need to teach lawyers to walk before they can run, to help them interact with data in a metaphor that they understand in a graphical user interface.  Point and click, drag and drop, pinch and stretch, which are three dimensional concepts translated into a two dimensional interface. The interface of the iPad is so intuitive that a three year old could figure it out.  Just like Windows Explorer impacted the design of so many applications (“it’s an Explorer-like interface”), the iPad will do the same.

Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?

{Interviewed on the second afternoon of LTNY}  I think that the show felt well attended, upbeat, fresher that it has in two years.  I give the credit to the vendors showing up with some genuinely new products, instead of renamed, remarketed new products, although there’s still plenty of that.  There were so many announcements of new products before the show that you really wonder how new is this product?  But, there were some that really look like they were built from the ground up and that’s impressive.  There’s some money being spent on development again, and that’s positive.  The traffic was better, I’m glad we finally eliminated the loft area of the exhibit hall that would get so hot and uncomfortable.  I thought the traffic flow was very difficult in a positive way, which is to say that there were a lot of warm bodies out there, walking and talking and looking.

Henry Dicker and his team should be congratulated and I wouldn’t be surprised if they set a record over the past several years at this show.  The budgets were showing, money was freed up and that’s a positive for everyone in this industry.  Also, the quality of the questions being put forward in the educational tracks are head and shoulders better, more incisive and insightful and more advanced.  We’re starting to see the results of people working at the “201 level”, but we still don’t have enough technologists here, it’s still way too lawyer heavy.  This is the New York market, everybody is chasing after the Fortune 500, but everything has to be downward scalable too.  A good show.

What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

The first week of June, I’m going to be teaching a technology for lawyers and litigation support professionals academy with an ultra all star cast of a very small, but dedicated faculty, including Michael Arkfeld, Judge Paul Grimm, Judge John Facciola, and others.  It’s called the eDiscovery Training Academy and will be held at the Georgetown Law School. It’s going to be rigorous, challenging, extremely technical and the hope is that the people emerge from that week genuinely equipped to talk the talk and walk the walk of productive 26(f) conferences and real interaction with IT personnel and records managers.  We’re going to start down at the surface of the magnetic media and we’re going to keep climbing until we can climb no further.

Thanks, Craig, for participating in the interview!

And to the readers, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic!

eDiscovery Trends: George Socha of Socha Consulting

 

This is the seventh of the LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year and asked each of them the same three questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?
  2. Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is George Socha.  A litigator for 16 years, George is President of Socha Consulting LLC, offering services as an electronic discovery expert witness, special master and advisor to corporations, law firms and their clients, and legal vertical market software and service providers in the areas of electronic discovery and automated litigation support. George has also been co-author of the leading survey on the electronic discovery market, The Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey.  In 2005, he and Tom Gelbmann launched the Electronic Discovery Reference Model project to establish standards within the eDiscovery industry – today, the EDRM model has become a standard in the industry for the eDiscovery life cycle and there are eight active projects with over 300 members from 81 participating organizations. George has a J.D. for Cornell Law School and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?

On the very “flip” side, the number one trend to date in 2011 is predictions about trends in 2011.  They are part of a consistent and long-term pattern, which is that many of these trend predictions are not trend predictions at all – they are marketing material and the prediction is “you will buy my product or service in the coming year”.

That said, there are a couple of things of note.  Since I understand you talked to Tom about Apersee, it’s worth noting that corporations are struggling with working through a list of providers to find out who provides what services.  You would figure that there is somewhere in the range of 500 or so total providers.  But, my ever-growing list, which includes both external and law firm providers, is at more than 1,200.  Of course, some of those are probably not around anymore, but I am confident that there are at least 200-300 that I do not yet have on the list.  My guess when the list shakes out is that there are roughly 1,100 active providers out there today.  If you look at information from the National Center for State Courts and the Federal Judicial Center, you’ll see that there are about 11 million new lawsuits filed every year.  I saw an article in the Cornell Law Forum a week or two ago which indicated that there are roughly 1.1 million lawyers in the country.  So, there are 11 million lawsuits, 1.1 million lawyers and 1,100 providers.  Most of those lawyers have no experience with eDiscovery and most of those lawsuits have no provider involved, which means eDiscovery is still very much an emerging market, not even close to being a mature market.  As fast as providers disappear, through attrition or acquisition, new providers enter the market to take their place.

Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?

{Interviewed on the second afternoon of LTNY}  Maybe this is overly optimistic, but part of what I’m seeing in leading up to the conference, on various web sites and at the conference itself, is that a series of incremental changes taking place over a long period are finally leading to some radical differences.  One of those differences is that we finally are reaching a point where a number of providers can make the claim to being “end-to-end providers” with some legitimacy.  For as long as we’ve had the EDRM model, we’ve had providers that have professed to cover the full EDRM landscape, by which they generally have meant Identification through Production.  A growing number of providers not only cover that portion of the EDRM spectrum but have some ability to address Information Management, Presentation, or both   By and large, those providers are getting there by building their software and services based on experience and learning over the past 8 to 10 to 12 years, introducing new offerings at the show that reflect that learned experience.

A couple of days ago, I only half-jokingly issued “the Dyson challenge” (as in the Dyson vacuum cleaner).  Every year, come January, our living room carpet is strewn with pine tree needles and none of the vacuum cleaners that we have ever had have done a good job of picking up those needles.  The Dyson vacuum cleaner claims it cyclones capture more dirt than anything, but I was convinced that could not include those needles.  Nonetheless I tried, and to my surprise it worked like a charm!  I want to see the providers offering products able to perform at that high level, not just meeting but exceeding expectations.

I also see a feeling of excitement and optimism that wasn’t apparent at last year’s show.

What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

As I mentioned, we have launched the Apersee web site, designed to allow consumers to find providers and products that fit their specific needs.  The site is in beta and the link is live.  It’s in beta because we’re still working on features to make it as useful as possible to customers and providers.  We’re hoping it’s a question of weeks, not months, before those features are implemented.  Once we go fully live, we will go two months with the system “wide open” – where every consumer can see all the provider and product information that any provider has put in the system.  After that, consumers will be able to see full provider and product profiles for providers who have purchased blocks of views.  Even if a provider does not purchase views, all selection criteria it enters are searchable, but search results will display only the provider’s name and website name.  Providers will be able to get stats on queries and how many times their information is viewed, but not detailed information as to which customers are connecting and performing the queries.

As for EDRM, we continue to make progress with an array of projects and a growing number of collaborative efforts, such as the work the Data Set group has down with TREC Legal and the work the Metrics group has done with the LEDES Committee. We not only want to see membership continue to grow, but we also want to continue to push for more active participation to continue to make progress in the various working groups.  We’ve just met at the show here regarding the EDRM Testing pilot project to address testing standards.  There are very few guidelines for testing of electronic discovery software and services, so the Testing project will become a full EDRM project as of the EDRM annual meeting this May to begin to address the need for those guidelines.

Thanks, George, for participating in the interview!

And to the readers, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic!

eDiscovery Trends: Jim McGann of Index Engines

 

This is the third of the LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year and asked each of them the same three questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?
  2. Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Jim McGann.  Jim is Vice President of Information Discovery at Index Engines.  Jim has extensive experience with the eDiscovery and Information Management in the Fortune 2000 sector. He has worked for leading software firms, including Information Builders and the French-based engineering software provider Dassault Systemes.  In recent years he has worked for technology-based start-ups that provided financial services and information management solutions.

What do you consider to be the current significant trends in eDiscovery on which people in the industry are, or should be, focused?

What we’re seeing is that companies are becoming a bit more proactive.  Over the past few years we’ve seen companies that have simply been reacting to litigation and it’s been a very painful process because ESI collection has been a “fire drill” – a very last minute operation.  Not because lawyers have waited and waited, but because the data collection process has been slow, complex and overly expensive.  But things are changing. Companies are seeing that eDiscovery is here to stay, ESI collection is not going away and the argument of saying that it’s too complex or expensive for us to collect is not holding water. So, companies are starting to take a proactive stance on ESI collection and understanding their data assets proactively.  We’re talking to companies that are not specifically responding to litigation; instead, they’re building a defensible policy that they can apply to their data sources and make data available on demand as needed.    

Which of those trends are evident here at LTNY, which are not being talked about enough, and/or what are your general observations about LTNY this year?

{Interviewed on the first morning of LTNY}  Well, in walking the floor as people were setting up, you saw a lot of early case assessment last year; this year you’re seeing a lot of information governance..  That’s showing that eDiscovery is really rolling into the records management/information governance area.  On the CIO and General Counsel level, information governance is getting a lot of exposure and there’s a lot of technology that can solve the problems.  Litigation support’s role will be to help the executives understand the available technology and how it applies to information governance and records management initiatives.  You’ll see more information governance messaging, which is really a higher level records management message.

As for other trends, one that I’ll tie Index Engines into is ESI collection and pricing.  Per GB pricing is going down as the volume of data is going up.  Years ago, prices were a thousand per GB, then hundreds of dollars per GB, etc.  Now the cost is close to tens of dollars per GB. To really manage large volumes of data more cost-effectively, the collection price had to become more affordable.  Because Index Engines can make data on backup tapes searchable very cost-effectively, for as little as $50 per tape, data on tape has become  as easy to access and search as online data. Perhaps even easier because it’s not on a live network.  Backup tapes have a bad reputation because people think of them as complex or expensive, but if you take away the complexity and expense (which is what Index Engines has done), then they really become “full point-in-time” snapshots.  So, if you have litigation from a specific date range, you can request that data snapshot (which is a tape) and perform discovery on it.  Tape is really a natural litigation hold when you think about it, and there is no need to perform the hold retroactively.

So, what does the ease of which the information can be indexed from tape do to address the inaccessible argument for tape retrieval?  That argument has been eroding over the years, thanks to technology like ours.  And, you see decisions from judges like Judge Scheindlin saying “if you cannot find data in your primary network, go to your backup tapes”, indicating that they consider backup tapes in the next source right after online networks.  You also see people like Craig Ball writing that backup tapes may be the most convenient and cost-effective way to get access to data.  If you had a choice between doing a “server crawl” in a corporate environment or just asking for a backup tape of that time frame, tape is the much more convenient and less disruptive option.  So, if your opponent goes to the judge and says it’s going to take millions of dollars to get the information off of twenty tapes, you must know enough to be in front of a judge and say “that’s not accurate”.  Those are old numbers.  There are court cases where parties have been instructed to use tapes as a cost-effective means of getting to the data.  Technology removes the inaccessible argument by making it easier, faster and cheaper to retrieve data from backup tapes.

The erosion of the accessibility burden is sparking the information governance initiatives. We’re seeing companies come to us for legacy data remediation or management projects, basically getting rid of old tapes. They are saying “if I’ve got ten years of backup tapes sitting in offsite storage, I need to manage that proactively and address any liability that’s there” (that they may not even be aware exists).  These projects reflect a proactive focus towards information governance by remediating those tapes and getting rid of data they don’t need.  Ninety-eight percent of the data on old tapes is not going to be relevant to any case.  The remaining two percent can be found and put into the company’s litigation hold system, and then they can get rid of the tapes.

How do incremental backups play into that?  Tapes are very incremental and repetitive.  If you’re backing up the same data over and over again, you may have 50+ copies of the same email.  Index Engines technology automatically gets rid of system files and applies a standard MD5Hash to dedupe.  Also, by using tape cataloguing, you can read the header and say “we have a Saturday full backup and five incremental during the week, then another Saturday full backup”. You can ignore the incremental tapes and just go after the full backups.  That’s a significant percent of the tapes you can ignore.

What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Index Engines just announced today a partnership with LeClairRyan. This partnership combines legal expertise for data retention with the technology that makes applying the policy to legacy data possible.   For companies that want to build policy for the retention of legacy data and implement the tape remediation process we have advisors like LeClairRyan that can provide legacy data consultation and oversight.  By proactively managing the potential liability  of legacy data, you are also saving the IT costs to explore that data.

Index Engines  also just announced a new cloud-based tape load service that will provide full identification, search and access to tape data for eDiscovery. The Look & Learn service, starting at $50 per tape, will provide clients with full access to the index of their tape data without the need to install any hardware or software. Customers will be able to search the index and gather knowledge about content, custodians, email and metadata all via cloud access to the Index Engines interface, making discovery of data from tapes even more convenient and affordable.

Thanks, Jim, for participating in the interview!

And to the readers, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic!