eDiscovery Daily Blog

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


This is the seventh (and final) of the 2012 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What do you consider to be the emerging trends in eDiscovery that will have the greatest impact in 2012?
  2. Which trend(s), if any, haven’t emerged to this point like you thought they would?
  3. What are your general observations about LTNY this year and how it fits into emerging trends?
  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 750 presentations and papers.  Craig’s articles on forensic technology and electronic discovery frequently appear in the national media, and he writes a monthly column on computer forensics and eDiscovery for Law Technology News called Ball in your Court, as well as blogs on those topics at ballinyourcourt.com

Our interview with Craig had so much good information in it, we couldn’t fit it all into a single post.  Yesterday, we published part one.  Enjoy the rest of the interview!

What are your general observations about LTNY this year and how it fits into emerging trends?

Well, I've been coming to Legal Tech for well over a dozen years and ,each year, I think it couldn't possibly become more an eDiscovery conference (as opposed to a general forensic technology conference).  Then, next year, the aisles seem to grow longer and deeper with people providing eDiscovery solutions

So I'm just blown away.  I used to toil in this fairly obscure corner of the practice, and it’s now, literally, this whole event.  Walk down these aisles with me, and you'll see it's just one person after another after another offering some kind of eDiscovery tool or service or related product.  That’s also true of the educational sessions – some of which I guiltily helped plan, so the focus on eDiscovery does not come as much of a surprise.  But, remember that the vendors who sponsor these tracks have a hand in the content as well, and they’re the ones insisting, “We want to talk about eDiscovery.  We want to talk about technology-assisted review.”

It's not just because of what they're selling, although, certainly that’s a driver.  It's also what they want to hear about.  It's what their customers want to know more about. 

So, is it inconsistent that I'm saying there's not enough education about eDiscovery, and yet here, they talk of little else?  Other than LegalTech, and a few other events, the need remains to go longer and deeper.  Understanding information technology is a necessity for litigators.  That’s where the evidence lives.  IT is a discipline as broad, deep and complex in its way as the law.  Why then do we expect it should require so much less a dedication of time and effort to become even minimally proficient in information technology than it was to learn the law?

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

For me, this is the year of trying to offer an earlier acquaintance in information technology to lawyers.  I've spent almost thirty years teaching lawyers and judges about forensic technology and helping them get their arms around it.  This year, I returned to teaching law students.  My e-discovery course is offered at the University of Texas School of Law and I’m trying to help the students appreciate that in a very difficult job market, entering the profession with a practical understanding of how to attack an eDiscovery effort is a distinguishing factor in trying to find and keep employment.  It's a crucial skill set, and it's not one they can expect will be handed down to them from older lawyers.

There's just simply no lore to hand down where eDiscovery is concerned, at least not much useful lore.  And so I'm gratified for the challenge, and it's very hard work.  It's much harder to teach law students than it is to teach lawyers for a host of reasons.  The challenge in teaching law students versus lawyers is giving them the crucial context.  Most haven’t much exposure to law practice, so you have to give them more information and explain much more of what you take for granted with lawyers. 

Moving forward this year, I'm also trying to find ways to do more testing of new tools and refine mechanisms for reducing the volume of electronic information, to help lawyers master strategies that will make it easier for them to hit the ground running and take advantage of some of the economies that are within easy reach.  The key is to educate them on “methods” more than “shortcuts”.  I want to show them techniques that they can apply with confidence to speed the process of identification and preservation, as well as help them apply a better and more precise working vocabulary to enable them to communicate with clarity and confidence about ESI.  Competent communication, even more than cooperation, will prove a major contributor to eliminating headaches in eDiscovery.

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!