Collection

Our 1,000th Post! – eDiscovery Milestones

When we launched nearly four years ago on September 20, 2010, our goal was to be a daily resource for eDiscovery news and analysis.  Now, after doing so each business day (except for one), I’m happy to announce that today is our 1,000th post on eDiscovery Daily!

We’ve covered the gamut in eDiscovery, from case law to industry trends to best practices.  Here are some of the categories that we’ve covered and the number of posts (to date) for each:

We’ve also covered every phase of the EDRM (177) life cycle, including:

Every post we have published is still available on the site for your reference, which has made eDiscovery Daily into quite a knowledgebase!  We’re quite proud of that.

Comparing our first three months of existence to now, we have seen traffic on our site grow an amazing 474%!  Our subscriber base has more than tripled in the last three years!  We want to take this time to thank you, our readers and subcribers, for making that happen.  Thanks for making the eDiscoveryDaily blog a regular resource for your eDiscovery news and analysis!  We really appreciate the support!

We also want to thank the blogs and publications that have linked to our posts and raised our public awareness, including Pinhawk, Ride the Lightning, Litigation Support Guru, Complex Discovery, Bryan University, The Electronic Discovery Reading Room, Litigation Support Today, Alltop, ABA Journal, Litigation Support Blog.com, InfoGovernance Engagement Area, EDD Blog Online, eDiscovery Journal, e-Discovery Team ® and any other publication that has picked up at least one of our posts for reference (sorry if I missed any!).  We really appreciate it!

I also want to extend a special thanks to Jane Gennarelli, who has provided some serial topics, ranging from project management to coordinating review teams to what litigation support and discovery used to be like back in the 80’s (to which some of us “old timers” can relate).  Her contributions are always well received and appreciated by the readers – and also especially by me, since I get a day off!

We always end each post with a request: “Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.”  And, we mean it.  We want to cover the topics you want to hear about, so please let us know.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with a new, original post.  In the meantime, feel free to click on any of the links above and peruse some of our 999 previous posts.  Now is your chance to catch up!  😉

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.

Court Orders Sharing of Costs for Forensic Examination of Plaintiff’s Emails – eDiscovery Case Law

In Zeller v. So. Central Emergency Med. Servs. Inc., 1:13-CV-2584 (M.D. Pa. May 20, 2014), Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick used the Zubulake seven factor test to rule that the costs for restoring and searching the plaintiff’s emails should be shared, up to a maximum contribution by $1,500 by the plaintiff.

In this wrongful termination case based on plaintiff’s claims of retaliation by the defendant after the plaintiff took a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the parties began the eDiscovery process to recover the plaintiff’s emails and asked the Court to resolve the issue of “first review” of documents identified as a result of an agreed upon search of Plaintiff’s emails, and the matter of cost-sharing.

The plaintiff asserted that he is entitled to a “first review” of all documents to be produced while the defendants asserted that after forensic retrieval of emails from Plaintiff’s email account, all non-potentially privileged documents should be forwarded directly to the defendants to save time.  Noting that “Plaintiff has no obligation to produce emails that are wholly irrelevant to either party’s claim or defense” and that broad search terms such as the plaintiff’s wife’s name was used, Judge Mehalchick ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to a “first review” of the results of the forensic examination of his email account.

Regarding the cost sharing request by the defendants, Judge Mehalchick referenced Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(B) and determined that the data requested was inaccessible without the forensic examination and used the seven factor balance test below for cost-shifting from Zubulake v. UBS Warburg to decide whether forensic examination costs should be shifted.  The factors are:

  1. The extent to which the request is specifically tailored to discover relevant information;
  2. The availability of such information from other sources;
  3. The total cost of production, compared to the amount in controversy;
  4. The total cost of production, compared to the resources available to each party;
  5. The relative ability of each party to control costs and its incentive to do so;
  6. The importance of the issues at stake in the litigation; and
  7. The relative benefits to the parties of obtaining the information.

Judge Mehalchick stated that “the parties were unable to identify the total cost of production of the search, compared to the amount in controversy and the resources to each party”.  However, with regard to the other five factors, she ruled that “the request is specifically tailored to discovery relevant information”, that “there is no other source which could possibly be available”, that since the parties have agreed on a forensic examiner “neither party has any more ability than the other to control the cost”, that “the information sought is important to the issues at stake in the litigation” and that “it is to the benefit of both parties to obtain the information sought”.

As a result, Judge Mehalchick found “that some cost-shifting is appropriate” and ruled “Plaintiff and Defendant should share equally in the cost of restoring and searching Plaintiff’s emails, up to a maximum contribution by Plaintiff of One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1500.00).”

So, what do you think?  Was the Zubulake test applied appropriately?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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.

The Pitfalls of Self-Culling and Image Files – eDiscovery Best Practices

This topic came up with a recent client, so I thought I would revisit it here on this blog.

There’s a common mistake that organizations make when collecting their own files to turn over for discovery purposes.  Many attorneys turn over the collection of potentially responsive files to the individual custodians of those files, or to someone in the organization responsible for collecting those files (typically, an IT person) and the self-collection involves “self-culling” through the use of search terms.  When this happens, important files can be missed.

Self-culling by custodians, unless managed closely, can be a wildly inconsistent process (at best).  You’re expecting each custodian to apply the same search terms consistently and, even if IT performs the self-culling, the process may have to be repeated if additional search terms are identified later on.  Even worse, potentially responsive image-only files will be missed with self-culling.

It’s common to have a number of image-only files within any collection, especially if the custodians frequently scan executed documents or use fax software to receive documents from other parties.  In those cases, image-only PDF or TIFF files can often make up as much as 20% of the collection.  When custodians are asked to perform “self-culling” by performing their own searches of their data, these files, which could contain information responsive to the case, will certainly be missed.

With the possibility of inconsistent self-culling, the possibility of additional search terms identified later and the (almost certain) presence of image-only files, I usually advise against self-culling by custodians.  I also don’t recommend that IT perform culling on behalf of the custodians, unless they have the ability to process that data to identify image-only files and perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to capture text from them.  If your IT department has the capabilities and experience to do so (and the process and chain of custody is well documented), then that’s great.  However, most internal IT departments either don’t have the capabilities or expertise (or both), in which case it’s best to collect all potentially responsive files from the custodians and turn them over to a qualified eDiscovery provider to perform the culling (performing OCR as needed to include responsive image-only files in the resulting responsive document set).  Unless the case requires supplemental productions, there is also no need to go back to the custodians to collect additional data with the full data set available.

So, what do you think?  Do you self-collect data for discovery purposes?  If so, how do you account for image-only files?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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.

Ruling on ESI Discovery Dispute Delayed as Court Requests Specific Information – eDiscovery Case Law

 

In Worley v. Avanquest North America Inc., No. C 12-04391 WHO (LB), 2013 U.S. Dist. (N.D. Cal. Dec. 13, 2013), a putative class action involving PC security software, California Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler required the defendant to produce further information related to discovery disputes before a ruling would be issued.

Various discovery disputes arose in this case after the parties failed to agree on a discovery period. The applicable statute of limitations for this lawsuit was five years, and the defendant offered to preserve as evidence Electronically Stored Information (ESI) created during that five-year period. However, the plaintiffs requested an additional ten years added to the discovery period, as this would preserve “all relevant and discoverable information from the time the original versions of the software were developed to the present.”

According to the legal standard set by Rule 26, subsection (b)(1), parties may “obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense…” and relevant information “need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Therefore, Judge Beeler sided with the plaintiffs regarding an extended discovery period, stating that relevant information “such as documents relating to the software’s design and purpose, could have pre-dated the statutory period.”

However, the defendant stated that adding ten years to the discovery period would result in an unduly burdensome obligation for preservation, and would be disproportionate to the litigation. This is also addressed in subsection (b)(2)(C) under Rule 26, which states that “the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules…” if it is determined that the discovery would be “unreasonably cumulative or duplicative,” or that “the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit” to the case.

Judge Beeler noted that the argument could not be addressed without further information, specifically that the parties had identified neither potential custodians, nor the amount of information the defendant actually had in its possession, since the defendant’s company acquired the software at issue in 2005. These details would be required in order for the defendant’s technical expert “to specify the burdens associated with preserving relevant information (particularly of electronically-stored information).”

Therefore, the defendant was ordered to identify custodians who would be likely to hold relevant information with regard to the plaintiff’s discovery requests, and further to “consult a person with expertise (such as an IT employee) and specify any undue burden associated with preservation, and produce non-burdensome, relevant information” before a ruling would be given. If the technical expert identified any issues that would make production of documents unduly burdensome, both parties were to “comply with the court’s discovery procedures and submit a joint discovery letter that provides details about the problems and puts their dispute in context.” Meanwhile, Judge Beeler ordered the defendant to produce the agreed documents covered by the five-year statute of limitations, noting that further “discovery can be iterative.”

The final discovery dispute concerned the defendant’s request for the plaintiffs to produce mirror image copies of hard drives belonging to the plaintiffs and their experts, in order to test the software at issue. The plaintiffs argued against this, as the hard drives contained both personal and privileged information, including financial data, family photos, and private communications. They instead proposed allowing the defendant to choose a forensic expert, who would image the hard drives and provide the defendant with specifically requested data, including “recreate[d] computing environments.”

Judge Beeler deemed the proposal “not workable,” and permitted the imaging of the drives with the allowance that the plaintiffs could use a protective order to protect any private information, and would be able to review and remove any privileged information prior to remanding the images to the defendant.

So, what do you think? Should discovery periods be limited to the statute of limitations applicable to a given case? Are protective orders sufficient to protect private information when personal-use computers are involved in litigation? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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.

Craig Ball of Craig D. Ball, P.C. – eDiscovery Trends, Part 2

This is the eleventh (and final) of the 2014 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders after LTNY this year (don’t get us started) and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?
  2. With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?
  3. It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
  4. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Craig Ball.  A frequent court appointed special master in electronic evidence, Craig is a prolific contributor to continuing legal and professional education programs throughout the United States, having delivered over 1,500 presentations and papers. Craig’s articles on forensic technology and electronic discovery frequently appear in the national media, and just ended nine years writing a monthly column on computer forensics and eDiscovery for Law Technology News called Ball in your Court.  He currentlyblogs on those topics at ballinyourcourt.com.

As usual, Craig gave us so much useful information that we decided to spread it out, yesterday was Part 1 of the interview and here is the rest!

It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?

I have to marvel at the ingenuity of my colleagues who have so effectively deflected the obligation to learn much of the nuts and bolts of eDiscovery.  A mastery of buzzwords and buzz concepts is not the same thing.  You can almost see the eagerness of some to deploy certain ideas that they have picked up as though simply encanting a buzz word is the same as applying it in a practical fashion.  Lawyers focus on the work product privilege as a means to avoid transparency in essential applications.  They trot out something that they’ve distilled from Zubulake, now ten years old.  Again, they are fighting the last war.  They are still over-preserving in shocking ways and still issuing legal holds that are boilerplate.  They’re still failing to give useful information in legal hold notices (as they can’t tell people to do what they themselves don’t know how to do).  We’re seeing little creativity and a copious quantity of uninspired mimicry.  It isn’t working.

The problem I have with this is that it is that eDiscovery isn’t that hard.  We make it hard.  We sit down in a room and start talking about the moving parts and everyone starts getting very depressed.  They’re desperate to seize upon a one-dimensional solution – they want to find a hammer that they can bang against everything.  It isn’t that hard.  Though there are strategies that you need for different kinds of evidence, there are recognitions you must make that there are different users that use data in different ways.  Different levels of fragility.  But, we’re not talking about learning Chinese pictographs here, we’re talking about a small handful of common productivity file types and a tiny handful of mechanisms for communication.  In any other industry, they would be so happy to have so little complexity to deal with; but in our industry, any complexity at all seems to be overwhelming.  And, it frustrates me because, if lawyers would devote a bit of of genuine energy and time to this, and if we made more resources available to them, we could really make not just incremental strides, but great leaps in reducing the cost and anguish associated with electronic discovery.  It’s not that hard, it doesn’t have to be that expensive.  But, it does require a certain minimal fluency to understand what you’re dealing with.

We all work with digital information, all day, every day.  Right now you are taping me on a digital recorder, we’re having a conversation on digital phones where the conversation is being converted into packets and it’s moving back and forth.  I’m staring at two screens now with my email on the left screen and the internet on the right screen with my smart phone and my tablet close by.  That’s modern life.  If we don’t approach electronic discovery with the same engagement that we do with digital tools in other aspects of our lives, we’re doomed to continue to commit malpractice in both how we approach eDiscovery and how we spend our client’s money on eDiscovery.  And, it’s just sad, it remains deeply sad.

We aren’t deploying the right tools.  Soon, our opponents and courts will realize that we’re fighting the last war and that it’s very easy to step around our defenses.  We haven’t put the tools–the weapons in the hands of the infantry – the working stiff lawyer – to allow them to begin to deal with electronic discovery.

How is it going to get better?  Right now, the only path I see is going to be the enthusiast, the individual lawyer who – out of boredom, ambition or aversion unemployment – decides that they’re going to craft a new career path for themselves.  I hear from one of those lawyers nearly every day, so that means that I hear from 150-200 lawyers each year who tell me that they want to do what I do.  That’s great, but the resources for them to achieve that, to get the information they need, are still sparse in the context of law practice.  You can go out there and learn forensics and information systems and IT.  But, to integrate the parts of those disciplines that are attendant to eDiscovery, it’s difficult.  We’re still having electronic discovery taught, by and large, by people who consider it a body of law and who shun its technology aspect.

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

My mission for 2014 is wake our readers up on the issue of form of production.  That’s a little silly because your readers are among the most enlightened of consumers of electronic discovery.  But, helping requesting parties change the archaic way they ask for ESI has been a big part of what I want to accomplish in 2014.  And, helping them to make sensible choices about forms of production so that they can get complete and utile forms, That’s not always a native form, but it’s rarely static images.  I know that is something that I’ve jawed about for a long time and I imagine there are quite a few people that are tired of hearing me speak about it, but I’m finally starting to get some traction.

Judges are starting to listen and understand.  As we chip away at this absurd practice to turn everything into electronic paper, what becomes clear is that the processes that we’ve developed to produce spreadsheets and PowerPoints in native forms apply with equal force and success to Word documents, and now you realize that you’ve covered the Microsoft Office complement of data.  Those are the files that tend to make up the most common attachments to emails and, oh, by the way, emails can be provided in functional formats that are also complete.  Everyone technologist knows what’s in an email.  It has to have a certain complement of features to be called an email and traverse the internet.  Why don’t we just start providing emails in forms that function?  Helping parties to exchange forms that function is my mission for 2014.

I don’t expect that by next year that I will tell you that everyone has awakened to the fact that native and near-native productions are cheaper and better.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of people conserving very old tools and workflows who will not give them up until they are forced to give them up.  There are all sorts of changes for the greater good that decent, intelligent people resist too long, just as they did with women’s suffrage and civil rights.  I don’t mean to trivialize civil rights by comparing them to litigants’ rights, but changes must and shall come to pass.  We must evolve to become Juris Doctor Electronicus: modern, digitally-capable counsel.

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!

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.

Craig Ball of Craig D. Ball, P.C. – eDiscovery Trends, Part 1

This is the eleventh (and final) of the 2014 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders after LTNY this year (don’t get us started) and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?
  2. With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?
  3. It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
  4. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Craig Ball.  A frequent court appointed special master in electronic evidence, Craig is a prolific contributor to continuing legal and professional education programs throughout the United States, having delivered over 1,500 presentations and papers. Craig’s articles on forensic technology and electronic discovery frequently appear in the national media, and just ended nine years writing a monthly column on computer forensics and eDiscovery for Law Technology News called Ball in your Court.  He currentlyblogs on those topics at ballinyourcourt.com.

As usual, Craig gave us so much useful information that we decided to spread it out, so today is Part 1 of the interview and tomorrow, we will post the rest!

What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?

The most significant trend that I saw at LegalTech was the absence of a new direction.  Honestly, if you had blindfolded me and put down in LegalTech 2014, I could have not told you that it wasn’t LegalTech 2013 and I would have been challenged to have distinguished it from LegalTech 2012.  I’ve probably been to fifteen or sixteen shows and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that was so much a clone of a prior year and failed to reveal any innovation as patently as this LegalTech.  That’s not a lack of optimism on my part, but truly a recognition that everyone was showing something that was, at best, an incremental refinement of what they had been offering.  That’s not to say that the eDiscovery tools that I looked at were not better than the eDiscovery tools that I looked at last year.  For the most part, many of them had refinements that were indicative of vendors listening to their clients.

One thing I’m surprised that I didn’t hear more about at LegalTech is BYOD (bring your own device).  When it comes to privacy, corporations tend to say “you’re on our premises, you’re using our devices…oh, wait a minute, you were using our devices, but now we’re making you bring your own device”.  We should be talking about how we will’ successfully integrate BYOD into our “we own it, so we control it, so we can look at it” mindset.  The notion that we’re going to be able to monitor people’s devices through agents – that’s ten year old technology with modest uptake.  By the time we get it in place, we’ll be way past it.

As for trends in general, I had dinner with Browning Marean the other evening.  Browning is “everyone’s favorite uncle” in eDiscovery – he’s a thoughtful and witty fellow with DLA Piper, the world’s largest law firm that no one has ever heard of.  Browning said something to me while we were discussing his time serving in the Navy in Vietnam and he used the phrase that the Navy is always “fighting the last war.”  I think “Generals always fight the last war” is the famous line.  That’s where we are in eDiscovery.  The product refinements that I’m seeing are designed to fight the last war.  That’s a serious concern.  Because when one refines their ability to do things that are increasingly less and less relevant, they aren’t preparing to fight the battle they’ve got to fight.  I’m seeing refinements to software and workflows that are geared to a type of ESI that, unbeknownst to many at LegalTech, is disappearing.  I saw almost no one that had a coherent solution for cloud collection and processing or for handheld devices.  And, if you aren’t going to be where the evidence lives, you’re not going to be of as much value.  Instead, I saw a lot of self-congratulatory back slapping from both attendees and vendors about how well they were prepared to win the last war.

The fact that there was so little evidence of genuine innovation is expressed in many ways.  We are still looking at an entrenched generation of lawyers who are persuaded that they can keep the “status quo” in place and continue to do things the way they’ve always done them, albeit with a veneer of technology.  Sadly, I’ve become convinced that where I thought we could bring them along and educate them, I’m realizing that they will simply have to “shuffle off the mortal coil” of law before we realize the efficiencies and changes that are necessary to really use electronic evidence to its highest and best purpose.  We could salvage and re-purpose their expertise but, by-and-large, they’re resolutely unwilling to re-educate themselves for a digital world.

With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?

The question in my mind is whether they will receive alterations that will improve them and, if they do see changes, at what point are the changes sufficiently substantive to require them to re-initiate the public comment process on a revised set of proposals?  People being people and government being government, there will be a lot of reluctance to let the proposals be altered to an extent that they should be for fear that will trigger the need to go through a new comment period.  So, there will be a lot of ingenuity applied to avoid changes that reflect themselves too substantively in the proposed language.  That’s an impetus for the rules changes to pass with little change save that reflected in the commentary.

I see the changes being positive in many ways.  There are certainly some tweaks to the rules that are brilliant.  I remain concerned, as many do, about the change to Rule 37(e).  Certainly, the old 37(e) was a stillborn and the new rule is quite the opposite.  I wish it did not manifest such a mistrust of members of the federal judiciary in terms of their ability to regulate litigation and, when necessary, to punish malfeasance.  I believe strongly that our existing cadre of judges is very capable of restraint when it comes to sanctions, and generally manifest a rational and measured approach in terms of analyzing a state of affairs and deciding whether or not to sanction.  And before you ask, I most definitely include Judge Shira Scheindlin in that group.  The sanctions cases most discussed of late—like Sekisuiwhen you look at them closely, they are very measured and minor in terms of what they do.  Even the dreaded “Adverse Inference Instruction” in the latest iterations has been so weak and deferential to the opinions of the jury that it has much less tendency to have an impact comparable to those Judge Scheindlin issued ten years ago in Zubulake. People don’t look at those adverse inferences as closely as they should – if they did, I think they would realize that they are a very measured response.

I think that my greatest concern about the rules is something that has not been discussed.  We are at a juncture where we need more—not less– of the much reviled “discovery about discovery.” We must approach discovery with increased transparency and scrutiny of process–making that routine would have a significant effect on reducing the cost and complexity of eDiscovery.  Yet, we have some fairly powerful corporate lobbying efforts afoot to clamp the lid down more tightly on such things and take away the needed translucency into process that allows you to say “hey, don’t do it that way” before a lot of money goes down the drain.  I’m amazed at how many people on “the other side” (whatever side that is) are so tied up with misperceived work product privilege rights that they are arguing that they should be able to complete a defective eDiscovery effort at enormous cost to their client before the other side can say “stop, you’re doing it all wrong.”

I realize that the conversations between opponents have not been unguarded and are not always as constructive as they should be.  They’re way too combative.  People are still so afraid that they react from fear rather than from knowledge.  Nonetheless, there are certain aspects of an eDiscovery effort – the mechanisms of collection, culling, search, sources, structure of databases and, above all, forms of production (where we are finally and happily starting to make some progress) – that are so fundamental to integrity of process that they must be discussed up-front.  Those things must be hashed out before any significant money is spent on the collection, processing, review and production process.

Yet, there is a machismo out there reflective of outdated Sedona notions of “the other side is always right, no matter how wrong they are.”  The producing party is always right, even if they don’t know their butt from a hole in the ground when it comes to eDiscovery.  The consequence of that, the ego, the machismo of “you’ll see what I give you when I give it to you, and only then may you object” is such a waste of effort.  There are just some things that are so irretrievable that, unless you deal with them before they happen, they’re faits accompli to failure.  This idea that we’re going to waste months and millions of dollars to visit a broken production on an opponent and only then does the opponent  get to challenge it is just ridiculous.  It’s wasteful and shameful, and I’m frustrated that people don’t take a step away from their egos and say “this transparency thing is not a weakness, it’s a strength,” and instead seek to show off the wisdom and defensibility of their plan.  That let’s the other side can take shots at the plan while it’s still easy, fast and cheap to fix it.  But, no, they just want to do everything twice; and as long as people continue to be paid by the hour, doing everything twice is profitable for everybody but the litigants.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

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!

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.

Adam Losey of IT-Lex.org – eDiscovery Trends

This is the sixth of the 2014 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders after LTNY this year (don’t get us started) and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?
  2. With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?
  3. It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
  4. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Adam Losey.  Adam is president and editor-in-chief of IT-Lex.org, a technology law not-for-profit educational and literary organization and an attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP.  Adam also served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where he taught electronic discovery as part of Columbia’s Information and Digital Resource Management Master’s Program.

What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?

There were several trends that I saw at the show this year.  I think there was more emphasis this year on data security and privacy.  I don’t think that anybody is doing anything all that differently when they’re hosting data.  I think that they were – hopefully – going through the same steps for security before, but they’re emphasizing security more in marketing.  There was a lot more emphasis on ease-of-use solutions.  Candidly, I was expecting for some of the providers that are in this space to merge or go away and I know some of that is happening, but I saw increased competition in the marketplace in a variety of fields, which surprised me a little bit, but is good for the market.  I also saw more dedicated web-based litigation hold management products out there than I had seen in the past.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go by every booth, so my experience is largely anecdotal and I may have missed some other trends.

As for trends for 2014, on the legal front, I expect more litigation on spoliation.  Again, my experience is anecdotal, but I happen to handle that particular issue a lot.  I’m seeing it pop up in a lot more cases; if not spoliation itself, then requests by parties to dig into their opponents’ search and review processes, just as a matter of course in the litigation if it is of any size.  In the past, I didn’t see that for any case of any size- it typically only came up in larger cases.  I don’t know if that’s decreased trust or a “trust but verify” Reagan type of approach, but it has become the norm in my world.  These days, many people want to do discovery on your eDiscovery, again just as a matter of course.  Typically, in the past, you’d only see that come up if there was any issue or deficiency with a production where someone could point to something wrong with your efforts.  But, it may not always be appropriate to do discovery about discovery, short of any issue identified with a production.

On the vendor front, I see a lot of vendors that have “click and drag” tools and solutions for small or medium sized firms or cases, which I think are really cool and I’m looking forward to playing with some of them.  From ingest to the end, a single person or lawyer can handle everything, clicking and dragging files to get them processed.  Obviously, sometimes issues come up in processing, so I’m wondering how the vendors handle those.  But, there’s a lot of cool stuff that I saw this year that I’m looking forward to playing around with.

The last trend that I see is a lot of interest and emphasis on forensic collection from mobile devices and social media collection.  That’s no surprise because in cases that I deal with, that comes up all the time.  I’ve done plenty of collections from iPhones and other devices.  The problem is that when you have those solid state drives, collections can be a little weirder and forensics can be a little more difficult.  And, social media collection is always somewhat of a “tricky bird” for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is you sometimes have a lot of layers in that onion that make it harder to collect from those sources.

With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?

Excellent question.  I see some of the rules being approved.  I would want to fact check and make sure I’ve got the changes right, but I imagine that changes related to timing of depositions and number of witnesses and other minor procedural “quirks” will be passed, though I don’t see those as having a big impact on litigation.  I think that the number of hours per deposition is trimmed by an hour or two.  In all of the depositions that I’ve been involved, time of deposition is not a major controversial point.  If you can’t work that out with the other side, that doesn’t bode well.  But, for Rule 37(e), the rule that essentially creates a new standard for the imposition of spoliation sanctions, I hope that doesn’t pass.  I think it raises a lot of issues whether or not you think it’s necessary.  There’s a big issue about whether federal or state law governs this stuff.  When you’re litigating spoliation on a diversity case, it’s presumably governed by state law.  Or, so some cases say, others say “no, it’s a procedural issue, it’s governed by federal law”.  But, if they pass that rule, you suddenly have a new standard for spoliation in federal court, which will lead to all sort of nasty issues of “forum shopping” where people who destroy things will want to be in federal court, believe it or not.  Which is unusual, because there will be a standard that makes it difficult to get spoliation sanctions.

Judge Francis had a well-reasoned and superbly reasoned opinion addressing spoliation, where he held that “[The] sanction [of an adverse inference] should be available even for the negligent destruction of documents if that is necessary to further the remedial purpose of the inference. It makes little difference to the party victimized by the destruction of evidence whether that act was done willfully or negligently. The adverse inference provides the necessary mechanism for restoring the evidentiary balance. The inference is adverse to the destroyer not because of any finding of moral culpability, but because the risk that the evidence would have been detrimental rather than favorable should fall on the party responsible for its loss.” (Turner v. Hudson Transit Lines, Inc., 142 F.R.D. 68, 75 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)).

It does not matter whether the spoliator was a “cackling villain twirling his mustache” or an innocent employee that pressed the wrong button.  Spoliation addresses prejudice a party suffers as a result of the destruction of evidence needed to prove a case. It doesn’t really matter to the victim what the other party’s intent was.  You just want to be put in the position where you would have been if the evidence had not been destroyed.  So, the law until now in most jurisdictions (which I think had it right) said that if you have possession, custody and control of the ESI and you knew that you should have preserved it and it gets destroyed, we’re not going to shy away from leveling the playing field based on that.  The new Rule 37(e) is going to make it night impossible for some judges to keep the playing field level.

I’m not sure if that is going to pass or not, I have no special insight into that process or those committees.  But, although we do have some chaos now in that there are different standards in different jurisdictions, but I like for judges to have flexibility generally.  I think that “bright line” rules, while they may initially have some attractiveness in uniformity, take away flexibility from the good judges we have, who are smart people.  With flexibility, I think you see justice more than if you have a hard iron rule and the conflict of law issues that are going to come up as a result will be tricky.

It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?

Well, again, my observations are anecdotal.  I’ve “drank the Kool-Aid” like many people that you’re probably interviewing.  So, most of the people that I deal with have some knowledge of eDiscovery.  But, in the Bar at large, I do think things are getting a lot better.  I think that the big barrier to education in a lot of cases is that you get a lot of eyes glazed over by a certain type of person when you start to talk about eDiscovery.  Much like my eyes might glaze over if you talk about particular provisions of the partnership tax code.  Some people love tax law – I have a friend that I went to law school with that is enamored with tax law and he’s an awesome tax lawyer.  And, he really likes that, but he doesn’t like eDiscovery.  So, it’s “different strokes for different folks”

Unfortunately, unlike partnership tax law, if you’re going to be litigating, you have to know about eDiscovery.  Ironically, my first trial was in Tax Court, on a pure tax issue, and some pretty major eDiscovery issues popped up in the middle of trial in a dramatic, surprising, way – so even the tax litigator needs to know eDiscovery basics.  So, the real challenge on eDiscovery education isn’t reaching the people who already follow this and already read the blogs – they’re well versed in it.  It’s important to provide something that’s funny and entertaining, if you can, so that you can bridge that interest gap with either humor or writing or presentation skills.  I think a lot of organizations are doing that and I feel that more people know about it now.  Certainly, the judiciary does.  The judges are very well versed in a lot of eDiscovery issues, at least generally.

But, at firms, there are some folks that don’t want to learn it, but realize it’s important, so they delegate.  In most situations, I don’t see anything wrong with that.  If you have a senior trial lawyer that’s in his 80s and he’s an excellent presenter and trial lawyer, but does not want to handle the “nitty-gritty” of eDiscovery and he brings someone on to handle that for him, I don’t see anything wrong with that.  The rules of professional conduct, at least in Florida, allow that too.  In competence, we have an ethics opinion in Florida (I think it’s 0602) that says you have a duty to competence that extends to an understanding of eDiscovery.  I think 0602 talks about metadata scrubbing and emails, but one of the ways that you can make up that competence shortfall is by involving other lawyers and having them help with the things you don’t know or understand, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.  I’ve seen a lot of companies actually (and I agree with this and love doing it), have firms or individuals just to serve as eDiscovery counsel to look over the shoulder.  They may use different firms for different litigations, but they want somebody that knows how the business works really well that can look over the shoulder of outside counsel or in-house folks in every case, which I think is a good trend.

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

There are a couple of quick points that I’d like to hit on with IT-Lex.  One, for law students and young lawyers, we have the highest paid cash prize writing competition in the country.  So, if you are a law student or know a law student, by all means, check it out or send them the link.  The cash prize is big, but it’s not the biggest part of the prize – the real prize is that the winner gets to headline at the Innovate conference, which is a huge career springboard.  Plus, they get invitations to become members.  So, I really want to emphasize the writing competition.

On top of that, our Innovate conference is going to be coming up October 9 and 10 of this year, so we’d love to see people there.  If you want to sign up as a friend of IT-Lex, you can do so for free and we always welcome involvement from folks in the community with what we do.  So, look at what we do and don’t be shy to reach out is the quick message.

Thanks, Adam, 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!

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.

ASU-Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference – eDiscovery Trends

Apparently, next week is the week for eDiscovery conferences.

Last week, I told you about a two-day program being hosted next week in my hometown of Houston by The Sedona Conference®.  Then, on Tuesday, I told you about the Second Annual Electronic Discovery Conference for the Small and Medium Case, hosted by the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida and EDRM also next week.  Now, here is another conference alternative for next week – the Third Annual ASU-Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference, hosted by Arizona State University and noted eDiscovery expert Michael Arkfeld.

The conference will be held next week, March 12-14 at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law / Armstrong Hall at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.  As the downloadable brochure states, the conference will be “[f]ocusing on the practical issues affecting the discovery and admission of electronic information.  Attendees will be participating with thought leaders and practitioners of eDiscovery on issues impacting legal professionals locally, nationally, and globally.”

The conference will include:

  • noted eDiscovery judges, including Shira A. Scheindlin (who will be giving the keynote address on the first morning), John Facciola, and Craig Shaffer;
  • knowledgeable in-house counsel and eDiscovery specialists, including Robert Amicone from Office Depot, Tom Morrissey from Purdue Pharma and Kit Goetz from Qualcomm;
  • distinguished outside counsel, including Robert Singleton from Squire Sanders, Mark Sidoti from Gibbons, Joy Woller from Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Maura Grossman from Wachtell, and Ariana Tadler from Milberg and;
  • dedicated litigation support professionals including Tom O’Connor, Steven Goldstein, and Anne Kershaw.

Topics run the full range of the eDiscovery life cycle – from information management strategies to dispose of “zombie data” (I like that term) to meet and confer, preservation, collection, data analytics and technology assisted review, production formats, eDiscovery for criminal cases and cross-border issues and eDiscovery project management best practices.  You can earn up to 15 hours of CLE credit for attending.

It’s too late for early bird pricing, but regular attendees can still register prior to the show for $595.  Government, non-profit and paralegal registrants can do so for $345; if you’re a student, it only costs $95 to attend.  Those rates are $695/$395/$115, respectively, if you wait until the day the show starts.  Discounted group rates are also available.  You can register for the conference online here.

So, what do you think? Do you plan to attend the program, or perhaps one of the other programs next week? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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.

Alon Israely, Esq., CISSP of BIA – eDiscovery Trends

This is the fifth of the 2014 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders after LTNY this year (don’t get us started) and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?
  2. With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?
  3. It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
  4. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Alon Israely.  Alon is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Business Intelligence Associates, Inc. (BIA) and currently leads the Strategic Partner Program at BIA.  Alon has over eighteen years of experience in a variety of advanced computing-related technologies and has consulted with law firms and their clients on a variety of technology issues, including expert witness services related to computer forensics, digital evidence management and data security.  Alon is an attorney and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?

Once again, I did not see much differentiation between different exhibitors.  There was nothing that stood out to me as being a groundbreaking differentiator.  That said, it seemed a lighter show, less people.  But, even though it was a lighter number of attendees, the caliber of attendees seemed a bit higher.  This is all coming from my gut as I have no real numbers or metrics to back this up, but, the conversations we had at our booth seemed, on average to be a little more substantive than in previous years.

As for trends, there seems to be more discussion about the high-tech trends, such as cloud computing and analytic technologies.  Instead of people talking about these technologies generally, it seemed as though people were talking about these technologies more specifically.  Not to say that they were differentiated, they were still non-differentiated.  But, there were more people talking about cloud technologies and there was a big CLE about it.  And, more people were talking specifically about analytics, not just saying “you can do all of this culling”, but showing specific examples, with charts, graphics and other neat elements that indicate searching/analytics results.  So, there seemed to be a bit more specificity around technology and, together with that, advanced technology.  But, to be honest with you, there was nothing at the show that really blew my mind.  Nothing that was groundbreaking, nothing that looked like it would initiate a shift in the industry.  If anything, it felt like, other than the few specifics around high-tech, similar to previous years.

I will say that some of the attendees that I talked to, some of the GCs and outside counsel firm attorneys, said they spent more time inside the educational components at LegalTech instead of the exhibit hall.  So, as an exhibitor, that doesn’t make me overly happy to see that, but, as a knowledge leader in the industry, I’m very happy to see that.  I know that ALM has always tried to do a good job with the educational components.  And, I think this year attendees took that part of it more seriously than in the past several years.  It seemed that most of the networking that my BIA colleagues and I did was at the educational sessions, not necessarily on the floor.  I think that’s a positive indicator for the people who made it to the show.

As for general trends in 2014, I think you will see corporations start to take control of their technology, not only for in-house solutions, but also for the solutions that outside counsel will be providing to them.  Today, corporations tend to trust their outside counsel firms as to the review tools and other technologies that they use, but I think that it will be much more of a coordinated effort going forward.  The level of maturity for corporations around eDiscovery is being raised.  What the means in practical terms is that they will work more closely with their trusted vendors.  I don’t believe that corporations are going to bring everything in-house and that vendors will be out of luck, though a lot of other people believe that will happen.  I believe that services business for eDiscovery will remain strong for the next decade or longer and the dynamic of obtaining those services will morph into the corporation sitting side-by-side with the law firm making those services decisions.

That trend was evident at the show: you heard it from different vendor booths and the way that they were pitching their products and you heard it from actual in-house attorneys that were attending.  I saw at least two cases where the GC and his outside counsel attorney were walking around the show together – hopefully, the GC wasn’t getting charged for that time!  You’re starting to see corporations take more control of the reins, but not in the way we always thought where they dictate to the outside counsel what vendors to use.  Instead, it’s much more of a collaborative effort and I think you’ll see much more of that over the next several years.

With new amendments to discovery provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure now in the comment phase, do you see those being approved this year and what do you see as the impact of those Rules changes?

I see those being incredibly important.  The more we can get specificity around what needs to happen early in a case and the more that specificity can be codified, the better off we will all be.  If you look at all of the wasted money spent over the last few years, some of that is solved by the new rules, specifically in the area of preservation.  We’re in the business of selling preservation software, so I’m excited about the potential changes.

But, if I step out of that personal perspective, the changes still make a lot of sense because, today, you still have a lot of effort being spent by parties figuring out legal hold and preservation issues.  Who was put on hold, when were holds put in place, what data was and was not preserved.  That usually happens when a problem occurs – you have a peak of expensive lawyering and legal maneuvering with motions practice, etc and typically when it’s already too late.  So, some of these new rules which are focused on discussions early in the case with respect to preservation should nip a lot of that in the bud.  Now, instead of fighting four months later after discovery closes whether some system was preserved or not, that should get covered early-on with some of the new rules that will hopefully go into effect.  So, I’m very excited about the rules changes, not only as a vendor in the space, but also as a legal professional in general.  The more efficiency that you can create early in the matter, the more money you can save and the more you can focus on the substantive issues and on the merits of the case.

It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?

I do wholeheartedly agree.  Our industry is funny because the cost of goods sold for eDiscovery solutions and services is higher than for most other industries else because of the fact that we have to educate with almost every sale.  There are a lot of resources out there, including efforts by many respected thought leaders and all of the great blogs out there, and many providers have an educational component to their website.  So, you’re right that there are a lot of quality resources for attorneys at their fingertips, yet there are still so many attorneys that simply don’t understand it.  Most of the small business and solo practitioners market doesn’t understand eDiscovery and many GCs of mid-sized corporations don’t either.  And, frankly neither do many “corner office” partners at Amlaw200 firms.  They know about it at a high level and understand that it’s important, but they don’t know enough detail.  But, the good news is that with the advent of those educational resources and the fact that every eDiscovery provider and vendor teaches as they sell, those legal professionals don’t need to learn that much – even getting four or five feet “underneath the water” instead of thirty feet under would be helpful.

As to why they don’t know more, I don’t know.  Maybe attorneys are so used to having experts to rely on and because they feel they know enough about eDiscovery, that they don’t need to know any more detail or process understanding unless a problem arises.  I don’t have an explanation as to why, with all of these great resources available, that most legal professionals don’t have more knowledge.  Unless it’s just that they have a “technology block” and are still afraid of the technology aspects of that knowledge base.  To improve things, I believe that vendors will continue to have to sell in an educational manner, with one half of the sale educating the attorney and the other half focused on closing the deal.  And, hopefully more law schools will continue to incorporate eDiscovery into their curriculum.  But, I don’t see the issue of more knowledge across a wider audience of legal professionals getting a whole lot better anytime soon.

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

BIA continues to be focused on bringing the best technology and workflow that we can to the left side of the EDRM model – such as legal hold, preservation and ECA.  Legal hold activities such as notifying and tracking employees, interviewing custodians and creating questionnaires to do so, and suspending practices such as email auto deletion, and collection of ESI is what we’re all about.  We’ve been really integrating those areas of the left side of the EDRM into one another.  Today, TotalDiscovery employs much more of a circular workflow than it did even a year ago.  It used to be much more siloed – you would implement a legal hold and then do a custodian questionnaire and the collection.  Now, we’ve integrated those steps a lot more.  Hold flows into the questionnaire process, you can seed collections with data from the questionnaires, and so forth.  We’re also continuing to serve up as much intelligence on the data as possible.  You don’t have to wait until you get further down the right side of the model to understand the type of data you have or how much you have.  Obviously, you still need to be able to have a good review tool to perform real hard core research and analysis, but to the extent we can help attorneys more knowledgeable about their data before they get to review, the better it will be for them.  That’s our goal.  So, a lot of that comes from integrating different parts of the process and not focusing on just one area of the process, but gleaning intel from all of them and summarizing at a high level for the attorney.  Also, our enterprise features are really strong and not something we talk about a lot (but we probably should) – stuff like connecting to Active directory, Exchange and other systems – real simple to do as a default configuration.

Also, our flat fee pricing model is a source of pride for us and it’s been very successful.  Flat-fee pricing, unlimited use of functionality and overall budget predictability are values we offer and guarantee – which is unique in the market.  Also, one of the good things about BIA is that we’re a technology company and we’re always adding features – we’ve now moved to a tighter cycle with a new feature or function added every four to six weeks.  Sometimes it’s a small feature, at other times, it’s a large feature we’ve been working on for a while.  It keeps it very fresh and we’re able to do so because of the way we’ve built the product with the cloud and web technologies that we use  So, BIA continues to focus on what we’re good at – improving the workflow and functionality for the tasks compelled by companies on the left side of the EDRM model, leading up to review.

Thanks, Alon, 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!

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.

Tom Gelbmann of Gelbmann & Associates, LLC – eDiscovery Trends

This is the second of the 2014 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders after LTNY this year (don’t get us started) and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?
  2. It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is Tom Gelbmann. Tom is Principal of Gelbmann & Associates, LLC.  Since 1993, Gelbmann & Associates, LLC, is a consulting practice serving the legal services industry. Tom has an extensive record of working with law firms, corporate counsel and legal services providers as a consultant, advisor, project manager, and has also held the CIO position at two major law firms.  Tom has also been co-author of the leading survey on the electronic discovery market, The Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey; in 2011 he and George Socha converted the Survey into Apersee, an online system for selecting eDiscovery providers and their offerings.  In 2005, he and George Socha 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.

What significant eDiscovery trends did you see at LTNY this year and what do you see for 2014?

While I didn’t attend the show this year (for the first time in many years), I have been monitoring communications about the show and what took place and have talked with a number of attendees, so I do have some perspectives about it.  Not surprisingly, a major theme this year was the surge in attention to Information Governance.  Information Governance is becoming the area that is grabbing attention within organizations, and rightly so.  We’ve been saying for quite some time in “EDRM-land” that if you can get your electronic house in order, eDiscovery challenges are mitigated and costs can be considerably reduced.

One of the results that you’re starting to see is the appearance of tools to help with that whole Information Governance process of: What do you have?  Who has it?  Where is it?  How do you curate it?  How do you identify what you no longer need to hold onto and effectively get rid of it?  And, when litigation does occur, how do you effectively hone in on the ESI that you need for that particular matter?

Another trend that I’m seeing in general is really two somewhat related trends: Metrics and Project Management.  Metrics has been something that has been slow to catch on for a long time, but I think organizations are now catching on to the fact that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.  The light is coming on for people who are realizing that “yeah, I’d better start tracking these things”.  Metrics have really started to become more mainstream within the industry.  Associated with that is Project Management.  In eDiscovery, you have to have a well-defined, repeatable process to manage the projects effectively.  The more disciplined you are, the better your outcomes will be.  So, metrics and project management are really “coming of age”.

We’re also seeing more and more activity with mobile devices.  You’ve got smart phones, iPads and other tablets, BYOD, etc.  And, that’s really where more and more ESI will be.  I think mobile platforms are starting to take over as far as the means of communication and, in many cases, that’s where the story is.  And, what eDiscovery is all about is finding out the story.  Not that email is going to dry up any time soon, but you’re starting to see that the growth is in mobile and social media.

It seems despite numerous resources in the industry, most attorneys still don’t know a lot about eDiscovery?  Do you agree with that and, if so, what do you think can be done to improve the situation?

I agree.  From what I’m seeing, it may have gotten a little bit better, but not a whole lot.  For change to come, the impetus has to come from clients.  Clients need to be more demanding and validate their outside counsel attorney’s claims of “I know all about eDiscovery” when maybe all they did was attend a CLE.  There has to be proof of their knowledge, but I’m not sure how clients will go about obtaining that proof.  But, they’re the ones paying the bill, so the impetus will have to come from them.  I don’t think it will come from a bar association.

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

I’m very enthused about EDRM this year from a couple of aspects.  One, we’re very excited that we’re moving towards a non-profit model for EDRM.  There’s been a lot of work so far and there’s still a lot of work to do, but I think we’re on track to complete that this year.  I think that’s really going to serve EDRM well for the longer term.  What I mean by that is that it’s been the “George and Tom show” and we realize that it can’t be if it’s going to continue and flourish for the long term.  There’s a lot of energy and a lot of good minds behind this initiative and I’m looking forward to that.

As far as projects are concerned, the Data Set group has been busy further developing the Privacy & Security Risk Reduction Model.  There are some new frameworks coming out and a few other things that we will hopefully be able to announce fairly soon.  The projects are continuing to create and update helpful tools and frameworks which, to some extent, address the education question you asked me earlier.  Information Governance is one of those project teams that is working on some interesting items.  Also, we started in October with a monthly update, so we’re doing a better job of letting people know about all of the accomplishments of EDRM.  In retrospect, we should have been doing that a lot earlier.  You don’t realize on a day-to-day basis what we’re accomplishing, but when we put together a monthly update, we realize that we did accomplish a lot.  Our 2013 end of year update shows that there were several things we accomplished in 2013 that were valuable to the industry.  So, the future is bright for EDRM from a variety of perspectives.

With regard to Apersee, we’re still working to prove to providers that there is value in maintaining their profiles about their products and services.  We understand that it takes effort to do so and we’re still trying to demonstrate the value to them.  The more providers put into it, the more valuable it becomes to consumers.  The Apersee Special Requests are a bright spot. When we distribute Apersee special requests from the consumer, looking for a specific complex, time-sensitive service, we get dozens of responses from providers within minutes to a couple of hours.  Generally, the consumer tells us within a day or less “Stop, we’ve got enough responses, this is great.”  So, the effectiveness of the Apersee special request tells us that there is a need to be fulfilled.  We’ve been told by consumers that it’s very valuable service, so we’re excited about that.

Thanks, Tom, 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!

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