eDiscovery Daily Blog

My Experience at the Washington DC Masters Conference

By Rick Clark

The Masters Conference in Washington, DC, on April 17th, 2024, was a bustling event with crowded sessions throughout the day. The agenda featured a diverse range of topics, such as Modern Data, Link Files, eDiscovery Case Law, and Artificial Intelligence, making it an exceptional experience for attendees. In this article, I will highlight my favorite takeaways from the sessions I attended, although the depth of insights was so rich that I must keep this summary brief. If you haven’t attended a Masters Conference recently or ever, I highly recommend making the trip to at least one this year.

The first session, with standing room only, kicked off the discussion on how Modern Data is becoming more necessary in eDiscovery and investigations.

In the session Modern Data and Devices in Transit, the panel discussed the new challenges and the updated solutions through collecting, processing, and reviewing modern data, from cell phones to X (Twitter) and everything in between. The discussion started with the decisions needed to collect a custodian’s data and get these data into review. The panel consisted of Kevin M. Clark with Right Discovery, Jason Voss with Converse Data, Nick Eglevsky with Blank Rome, Mable Tun with Freddie Mac, Alicia Clausen with Crowell Moring, and Amanda Strassner Merrill with Capital One. The challenges presented ranged from missing attachments/link attachments, quality control in data processing for review, collection considerations on devices, especially around privacy, and deriving context from a variety of data existing in a case.

The solutions for those challenges seemed to have some great technological and workflow remedies. For instance, Nick Eglevsky stated that the links found in emails (rather than attached documents) will require additional quality control measures to ensure the production requirements are met. Mable Tun weighed in with the need to have targeted collections or a step to cull out personal data from smartphone evidence due to privacy concerns. The consensus from the panel was that the modern data challenges can be met with reasonable and simplified workflows as technology and processes have caught up with the complexities of these data.

The second session I attended was the breakout session Data Privacy in the Age of Digital Transformation – Harnessing the Benefits of AI in Information Governance and Data Protection. This session was a great tag team style presentation with Charles Lavallee and Tom Skelly with Infinnium, discussed data governance and Mike Gaudet and Antonio Rega with JSHeld discussed the importance of privacy and data analysis. The main takeaways were:

  • AI in Data Privacy, Where to Begin? The integration of solid data management with effective Information Governance is crucial for ensuring the privacy, protection, and quality of data.
  • AI is increasingly playing a pivotal role in Information Governance, proving its worth in real-world applications such as policy management, cookie compliance, and privacy investigations.
  • Introducing Profiler.AI by Infinnium, the latest advancement in their robust IG solution, 4iG®. This innovation marks a significant leap in data privacy management and breach investigation, streamlining the process of identifying entities, reviewing data, and quickly generating notification lists by automating the association of PII to entities.

The session before lunch was a neat short discussion format with Robert Keeling from the host firm, Sidley Austin discussed the importance of diversity, equity (DEI) and inclusion in the law firm environments. DEI, Keeling stated, makes better lawyers and benefits the industry because the variety of cultures and experiences paint the complete picture. Teddy Benson, Director of Data Architecture and Platforms with Universal discussed important aspects of artificial intelligence including bias and how that can impact prompting results. His advice was to be as descriptive as possible with prompts being at least 100 words with a cap of around 150. Lastly, Maribel Rivera gave a mic dropping discussion on being the CEO of your personal brand. Her message was clear that no matter how big or little you are investing in your brand with online presence, professional networking and content creation, you are presenting your brand and spending more time growing and improving those three areas will present equally great opportunities.

The last call out was the breakout session with Kelly Twigger and Daryl Greene from eDiscovery Assistant. The caselaw update presented by Twigger was a great reminder that modern data is important to include in eDiscovery. The three cases discussed were*:

Hunters Capital v. City of Seattle:

The City of Seattle and several of its officials failed to preserve ESI related to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). The City failed to issue litigation holds to the officials, and several of the officials had their city-owned phones reset at Apple Stores, deleting all prior text messages. Plaintiffs asked the Court to enter default judgment against the City, or, in the alternative, for an adverse-inference instruction. The Court found that the City had spoliated evidence and awarded Plaintiffs attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result.

Beacon v. BMW

Beacon Navigation GmbH (“Beacon”) failed to timely disclose source code from its third-party vendor, Harman, which was necessary evidence for infringement. The Court found that Beacon had violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e) by not supplementing its infringement contentions in a timely manner but did not exclude the ESI.

Doe LS 340 v. Uber Techs., Inc.

The Court ordered Uber to disclose basic details surrounding its litigation hold, including the names and titles of employees notified of the hold and the dates of such notifications, in order for Plaintiffs to evaluate whether Uber has met its preservation obligations for Electronically Stored Information relevant to the litigation.

*Summaries provided by eDiscovery Assistant and their AI integration that generates a summary of their cases.

Overall, the conference provided a single day packed with days’ worth of great content and attracted many new attendees. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet new industry leaders and reconnect with familiar faces. I’m eagerly looking forward to attending the Chicago Masters on May 15th, hosted by Seyfarth Shaw, and I hope to see you there!

About the Author

Rick Clark is VP, Strategic Partnerships at CloudNine and has 20+ years of experience in forensics and eDiscovery. Focused on innovation and education, he co-founded ESI Analyst, now CloudNine Analyst, as well as Wave Software and the Master’s Conference.