eDiscovery Daily Blog

Mary Mack of ACEDS: eDiscovery Trends 2018

This is the second of the 2018 Legaltech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscovery Daily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year (and some afterward) to get their observations regarding trends at the show and generally within the eDiscovery industry.

Today’s thought leader is Mary Mack of ACEDS.  Mary is the Executive Director of the Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS).  E-discovery luminary and recipient of the Masters Conference Educator of the Year 2016, Mary provides ACEDS and its membership more than a decade of strong credibility and sound leadership within the e-discovery community. Mary is the author of A Process of Illumination: The Practical Guide to Electronic Discovery, considered by many to be the first popular book on e-discovery. She is the co-editor of the Thomson Reuters West treatise, eDiscovery for Corporate Counsel.

What have your impressions of LTNY been this year?

{Interviewed Mary the last morning of the conference}

We’re on the downhill slide today and I’m so happy – these shows are a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. A highlight for me was the gathering of our NYC chapter attendees followed by our annual #DrinksWithDougAndMary community happy hour at Ruth’s Chris, sponsored by our fantastic affiliates CloudNine and Compliance Discovery Solutions. Thank you so much for that!  It was packed from 4pm on with everyone representing from the Hon. Judge Peck to our newest CEDS certified person. The other thing that was fun was that our other chapter leadership was in attendance and our chapters look forward to this event every year.

Another highlight for me was the number of great people taking #eDiscoveryRockstar selfies at our booth behind our big backdrop!

I was on a session yesterday with David Horrigan, Bill Hamilton, Dan Katz, Laura Norris and Judge Rodriguez, which was fabulous. I thought it was well attended and the audience was a very mixed group. At the end, the panel asked for predictions and then we had buzzers where we could agree with the predictions, so it was like a round robin prediction. My prediction was The Rise of the Legal Engineer, which (I think) got three “yes” votes and one “no” vote from the other panelists.  Then, after the session was over, one of the attendees came up to me from Airbus with his name tag which indicated that he is a legal engineer.  I decided he had come from the future and they had figured that all out already!

That was a nice session and I’m glad I got to participate in it.  Other than that, this is (unfortunately for me) a business conference, so I’m not able to see as much content as I’d like to, session wise. I’m going to have to depend on the recorded versions.  There were some very nice keynotes, I heard, so I look forward to checking those out particularly.

ACEDS had a great reception Tuesday night at the offices of Thomson Reuters, who is one of our partners.  They very graciously put a reception in their Customer Experience Center, with a view of Times Square right where the New Year’s Eve ball drops down. We had three judges for the content part (Honorable Judges James C. Francis IV, David Waxse and Xavier Rodriguez), but we also had a meet-and-greet with the press, with video of the authors that have been so graciously contributing to get some visibility for the work that they’ve been doing.  Discovery counsel like Nick Ackerman from Dorsey and David Keyko from Pillsbury and Hampton Coley of Canon, former Cravath and Debbie Reynolds from Eimer Stahl.  As for the judges who participated, we had a lovely discussion with Judge Waxse who’s fully retired now and still bringing it down to a level that everybody can understand with storytelling and things of that nature.  And, we had Judge Francis who’s got his Microsoft Ireland case going up to the Supreme Court and he was handicapping how that ruling might go.   We also had comments from Judge Rodriguez, of course, who is so forward-thinking on access to justice and how we’re going to better do that and some of the other aspects of our practice.

Speaking of the Microsoft Ireland case, what are your thoughts about that case? Do you have any expectations or predictions as how it’s going to go?

It’s interesting because I think maybe last month I would have said that the Supreme Court would have said yes, you can get the data. And now, maybe this week I’m thinking with all the data privacy stuff that’s going on in the news that they might say no. That maybe they’ll take a look at it but it might really drastically hurt our commercial technical business, from a US perspective, unless we do something rational around it for privacy purposes.

You have the Microsoft case and then also you have GDPR looming. This year seems to be a particular focus on data privacy, more so than it seems in previous years. What are your thoughts about that, where do you think organizations stand in getting ready for GDPR?

I don’t think organizations are anywhere near ready. I think they’ll be still trying to get ready when the first fines come down. My sense is that there will be fines levied that are rather large and, to me, the climate feels like someone’s going to get a fine pretty early.  Though I may be way wrong on that, I thought maybe UK bribery would be big and it wasn’t. It turned out to be a non-issue, really.

Were there any other topics that stood out for you in this year’s session, that you think are the key topics that people are talking about here at the conference?

Business-wise, I think the most talked about topic is consolidation, and that the downstream effects of that are people’s employment and business aspects. I think that that’s palpable here.  It’s going to be really interesting to see the next quarterly business confidence survey that Rob Robinson does. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a drop in confidence if the people who get consolidated out fill out a survey.  Who knows?  To date, it’s been pretty sunny, I think.  This conference certainly reflects the consolidation.  Certainly the number of people who are buying booths is lower.  Although, it’d be interesting to get the statistics for the satellite suites that aren’t here because that is still going on. For me, it feels less attended than last year — both from the exhibitors as well as attendees.

If you were queen of LTNY for a year, what changes would you make?

If it’s in January, I’d hold it in Florida. {laughs}  Seriously, though, I know that’s not possible. I do think it was a mistake to ‘X’ out the consultants and the partners – I feel that $2,500 entrance fee to the exhibit hall was punitive and many people didn’t come. I think one of the things I’ve always loved about Legaltech New York is that you could see everybody, in the course of three days. Now I’m not seeing that. People that have come for 15 years are saying they can’t do it now. I think that’s a shame.  I do appreciate that the “looky loos” that come with their little bags and just grab up all the swag, are not there. I do appreciate that, but I think we’re missing part of our population that contributes a great deal.

What else would I do?  I think I would look at how they’re sourcing speakers to make sure it’s more reflective of our community.

What would you like to tell our readers about what ACEDS is doing?

ACEDS is going to take a nap. {laughs}  Seriously, though, we are having all sorts of organic chapter growth all over the world. Last year our UK chapter made us global. This year, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) is up already. Toronto is coming soon and also Australia.  Then, perhaps Japan, perhaps Abu Dhabi and then around the country in places like Houston, where your CEO Brad Jenkins is the chapter president.  We’re also setting up in Dallas and San Francisco and getting inquiries from LA and Atlanta.  We’re getting an explosion in chapter demand. We’re doing all of that and we have some other things in the works I think that’ll be pretty exciting, especially for our partners, around combining technical certification with our more functional certification.

We’re also doing a ton of webinars.  It seems like we have at least one every week.  Sometimes, we have three.  We found that separating the pure education from the service product showcases where partners can brag on themselves and focus on their selling proposition works well.  As long as people know you’re doing a demo and that’s what you’re going to do and that’s what they come for, there’s no illusion.  I feel the program helps with the technical competence and the risks and benefits of technology.

And, we’re seeing more attorneys come to the webinars.  We started that last year as an experiment. We thought we’d get 13 people; instead, we’re getting 130 people and that’s for an intro demo. Then, for service providers, it’s people who’ve already self-selected you for a deeper conversation, like the people that are trying to do RFPs and things like that.  They get to do bit of research without necessarily engaging hot and heavy.  And, it’s good for the partners too, who can point people to those webinars to get started learning about them right away.

Last year, we also did the “Ask the Experts” series, which was really fun.  We did that with Jared Coseglia over at TRU Staffing and we’re going to expand that series. Jared is our anchor and he’s got a quarterly report and we will be bringing in some other experts on other areas of career development and technical development topics as well. The format is different: We conduct some poll questions and then the answers of the poll helps shape the conversation. It’s an unscripted, unplugged type of format and it’s highly interactive.  And, we’ve changed what we’re offering, how we offer it, how we talk about it, based on the feedback we’ve gotten from some of those subjects.  Even though you’re not in the same room, it’s about as close as you can get to that during the hour discussion.

Thanks, Mary, for participating in the interview!

Also, we’re getting ever closer to the University of Florida E-Discovery Conference, which will be held on Thursday, March 29.  As always, the conference will be conducted in Gainesville, FL on the University of Florida Levin College of Law campus (as well as being livestreamed), with CLE-accredited sessions all day from 8am to 5:30pm ET.  I (Doug) am on a panel discussion at 9am ET in a session titled Getting Critical Information From The Tough Locations – Cloud, IOT, Social Media, And Smartphones! with Craig Ball, Kelly Twigger, with Judge Amanda Arnold Sansone.  Click here to register for the conference – it’s only $199 for the entire day in person and only $99 for livestream attendance.  Don’t miss it!

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