eDiscovery Daily Blog

Craig Ball of Craig D. Ball, P.C. – eDiscovery Trends, Part 3

This is the tenth (and final) of the 2013 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 are your general observations about LTNY this year and how it fits into emerging trends?
  2. If last year’s “next big thing” was the emergence of predictive coding, what do you feel is this year’s “next big thing”?
  3. 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 1,000 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.

Craig was very generous with his time again this year and our interview with Craig had so much good information in it, we couldn’t fit it all into a single post.  Wednesday was part 1 and yesterday was part 2.  Today is the third and last part.  A three-parter!

Note: I asked Craig the questions in a different order and, since the show had not started yet when I interviewed him, instead asked about the sessions in which he was speaking.

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

I’m really trying to make 2013 the year of distilling an extensive but idiosyncratic body of work that I’ve amassed through years of writing and bring it together into a more coherent curriculum.  I want to develop a no-cost casebook for law students and to structure my work so that it can be more useful for people in different places and phases of their eDiscovery education.  So, I’ll be working on that in the first six or eight months of 2013 as both an academic and a personal project.

I’m also trying to go back to roots and rethink some of the assumptions that I’ve made about what people understand.  It’s frustrating to find that lawyers talking about, say, load files when they don’t really know what a load file is, they’ve never looked at a load file.  They’ve left it to somebody else and, so, the resolution of difficulties has gone through so many hands and is plagued by so much miscommunication.   I’d like to put some things out there that will enable lawyers in a non-threatening and accessible way to gain comfort in having a dialog about the fundamentals of eDiscovery that you and I take for granted.  So, that we don’t have to have this reliance upon vendors for the simplest issues.  I don’t mean that vendors won’t do the work, but I don’t think we should have to bring a technical translator in for every phone call.

There should be a corpus of competence that every litigator brings to the party, enabling them to frame basic protocols and agreements that aren’t merely parroting something that they don’t understand, but enabling them to negotiate about issues in ways that the resolutions actually make sense.  Saying “I won’t give you 500 search terms, but I’ll give you 250” isn’t a rational resolution.  It’s arbitrary.

There are other kinds of cases that you can identify search terms “all the live long day” and they’re really never going to get you that much closer to the documents you want.  The best example in recent years was the Pippins v. KPMG case.  KPMG was arguing that they could use search terms against samples to identify forensically significant information about work day and work responsibility.  That didn’t make any sense to me at all.  The kinds of data they were looking for wasn’t going to be easily found by using keyword search.  It was going to require finding data of a certain character and bringing a certain kind of analysis to it, not an objective culling method like search terms.  Search terms have become like the expression “if you have a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail”.  We need to get away from that.

I think a little education made palatable will go a long way.  We need some good solid education and I’m trying to come up with something that people will borrow and build on.  I want it to be something that’s good enough that people will say “let’s just steal his stuff”.  That’s why I put it out there – it’s nice that they credit me and I appreciate it; but if what you really want to do is teach people, you don’t do it for the credit, you do it for the education.  That’s what I’m about, more this year than ever before.

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.