Sorry for the silence. It has been a bit busy here – not just “here” which is Sydney, but in the short gap in England between leaving Las Vegas and setting off for here. It is a brisk sunny morning (Thursday, I think) here. It is the middle of the night in Liverpool, where I spoke last Thursday. It is late afternoon in Las Vegas where I was a few days ago for CEIC. My inner clock has lost track. It is quite a liberation in a way – as long as you make sure you get to the airports before the planes leave, haul yourself onto a podium at about the same time as the audience sits down, and make it to the meetings and dinners, the division of time thereafter can be wholly arbitrary. Working when you are awake and sleeping when you are tired is not on if you land with a schedule of back-to-back meetings, but it works for me.
One of the many articles which I have skimmed predicts major growth in e-discovery in the next 12 months. I didn’t catch who wrote it or how authoritative it was, but if it is true then all this rushing about is worth it. “Rushing about at what?” you ask cynically, knowing that all I do is a bit of writing here and a bit of speaking there. It is the bits in between you don’t see, and if “here” is one side of the world and “there” is the other, it adds a bit to the task.
CEIC warranted more than the usual number of articles, which took a while after my return. I had planning calls with the team for the Liverpool session (Dominic Regan, Cats Legal and Epiq Systems) and modified my slides a little, and I spent a day going there and back. Since it was me who wanted to alter the programme for the InnoXcell Hong Kong conference in July, it fell to me to reallocate the players and subjects and get the approval of everyone involved (tip: don’t try doing this on a day when both the UK and the US have public holidays). The idea is that if you have Browning Marean of DLA Piper, US Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck, Singapore’s Senior Assistant Registrar Yeong Zee Kin, Master Whitaker, Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy and me all in the same place, you can knock up some pretty good panels in place of the series of solitary speaking slots which had been planned. That needed Hong Kong Law Society permission urgently (another tip: I don’t do “we must have this today”).
I knew I was chairing the Ark Group e-Disclosure conference in London immediately on my return; I did not know I was due to deliver the keynote speech. Neither version of the agenda on the web site said so, and “The Future of the Legal Profession” is somewhat wider than I generally range. “The Future for Litigation Firms” is enough, I think, and fits with general propositions about what is grandly called “disintermediation” but which is more easily understood as “being left out”.
There was a white paper to finish, a London meeting to attend, a speech and a panel to prepare for Sydney, and a webinar to plan for my return (another tip: when agreeing to do webinars, the critical factors include the lead time for slides and script, not just the actual performance). This webinar is again for Recommind and is called The Impact of Earles v Barclays Bank on UK Corporations – the point being that the judgment’s headline about costs penalties is only the tip of a deeper set of implications. The broadcast is on Wednesday 16 June at 16.00 GMT and the registration page is here.
Not least of the week’s events was our 25th wedding anniversary and the dog’s 10th birthday. The suggestion arose (I am not quite sure how) of following Jonathan Maas’ Men in eDiscovery with Dogs in Discovery and Labs in Litigation, ideas abandoned for fear that Jonathan might think I was taking the, well, you know how it is with labradors. We feared, in fact, that Saxon might not make it to ten after he augmented his diet with something which made him so ill that he lay in the garden in the rain with his paws over his eyes. Best not to ask, perhaps.
Then it was off to the airport on Sunday night. I was one of 400,000 would-be passengers lost to BA whilst Unite holds it to ransom, and therefore not the only one to discover how good the Qantas Premium Economy service is compared with BA’s Economy Plus – not just the white table-cloth and edible food, but cabin crew who give the impression that they are pleased to see you. All that, and my BA air miles and Silver Card points as well. Even if BA survives the union’s apparent ambition to bring it down, the imposed transfer of passengers to its rival will have long-term implications for BA as we get the enforced opportunity to compare rival services.
In her excellent conference speech a couple days later, Michelle Mahoney of Mallesons said that she tells her children “It’s a small world. Just shut up for 20 hours and we’ll be there”. I can catnap anywhere (I was falsely accused recently of doing so on a conference platform) but not, apparently, on aeroplanes. I took the usual precautions – stay up working the previous night till 3.00am, drink the heaviest red wine with my supper at Heathrow, that sort of thing – but was awake all through the night to Bangkok, and again through a second night to Sydney. One of the joys of travel, for me, is that first strong coffee and cigarette after a long flight – sneer, if you like, but the pleasure in that cold dawn made the hours of abstinence almost worth it (there used to be an added frisson – when New Labour held power in the UK, ordering a “short black” at the coffee shop would bring the fear that you would have Harriet Harman and whining little drabbies from two equalities units round your ears, accusing you of disparaging diminutive people of colour).
Senior Master Whitaker and I were dinner guests that night of Allison Stanfield and e.law at a restaurant across the water from the opera house. Memorable, on all grounds – not just the food, company and venue, but also for the realisation that what we do in the UK is known about and appreciated down here. What is less appreciated, on its own territory, is that Australia is not behind in the e-discovery world. More on that, and on the conference, in a further post when I next wake up.