I have not run out of things to say, in case you are wondering at this week’s silence. This is the last week of a near-continuous run of events – preparing for them, attending them and reporting on them – which began before Easter. There is almost nothing in the diary now until ILTA 2010 Strategic Unity in Las Vegas at the end of August. I don’t want a holiday exactly, but I do need a break from always having a deadline round the corner.
I took part in a webinar today with Jason Robman of Recommind, the third in a series which we have done together. This one was called The UK e-Disclosure Questionnaire – Its Implications for Law Firms and covered the pending Practice Direction as well as the Electronic Documents Questionnaire – very much the hot topics of the moment. It appears that the sound output did not work for all those who attended. Fortunately, it was recorded and is available here.
The webinar format is unbeatable as a means of delivering information on current topics at no cost to participants particularly when, as here, you can choose your time to listen. The burden of this one inevitably fell mainly on me, since neither Jason nor anyone else has actually seen the Practice Direction. I find webinars very much harder to do than standing on a platform – I will happily busk for 45 minutes without notice to a roomful of people, but feel the need of a script if my audience is a microphone. One loses spontaneity in the process, especially when, as here, the subject is a wordy one. Nevertheless, if you want to know about the Practice Direction – why we need it, what it says and what its implications are – the link above will lead you to a 45 minute talk about it. My thanks to Recommind for the opportunity to talk about it.
On Friday I am due to speak to a law firm in the company of Nigel Murray of Trilantic where, again, the main subject will be the Practice Direction. Not the least of this week’s tasks has been re-writing my slides to bring them up to date on that subject. In between, I have a white paper to write for Iron Mountain Stratify eDiscovery and Litigation Services. The subject is one which is both interesting and important – more on that when it is published – but you do not (or, at least, I do not) write papers about interesting and important topics for major e-discovey players like Iron Mountain whilst running from continent to continent. I have elbowed a space out of this week to write it, or at least to break the back of it.
My article of last week called Searching for documents does not create them seems to have attracted some attention, including two widely diverging views received almost at once. The subject needs a fuller airing, setting out both views (which represent the poles of likely opinion about the Electronic Documents Questionnaire). I will stand back a bit before writing more about it.
I have long predicted that the future lies with firms just outside the top Circles who are set not just to take work away from the bigger firms but who, though a combination of adaptability and a lower costs base, can bring corporate clients back to litigation as a corporate activity. They are, no doubt, also driven by an assessment that the risk of ending up the wrong end of an adverse costs order has shifted against them with the string of what I call the “incompetence cases”. These, when added to HHJ Simon Brown QC’s judgment in Earles v Barclays Bank, make litigation a dangerous place for the unwary and the uninformed. Master Whitaker’s judgment in Goodale v Ministry of Justice is good news for those who know what they are doing, less good for those who hope to find uninterested judges thoughtlessly ticking the box for standard disclosure. Those days are on the way out.
I have been hearing from some good firms in the last few weeks, firms well able to seize the initiative and run with the unavoidable subject of electronic documents. One of my new slides carries the quotation Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes – It is foolish to fear what you cannot avoid. Get good at it is my slightly ungrammatical suggestion in this context. People seem to be listening.
Although I began this post by mentioning my relief at having no deadlines round the corner, the end of this seasonal rush-hour in fact heralds the opening of the next, at least in planning terms. The Autumn brings several conferences, mostly in the US, including the Masters Conference in Washington from 4-6 October. Checking the URL, I see that a video made last year of me and HHJ Simon Brown QC adorns the home page – an example, as I recall it, of being press-ganged to speak off the cuff at no notice.
I have been asked to assemble and moderate a non-US judicial panel, and had a planning call this evening with Dan Regard of Intelligent Discovery Solutions, who is organising the panels with his usual style. This has been a good year for the development of discovery thinking in the rest of the world – in line with Gartner’s predictions of the tail end of last year. Now we have to convert the thinking into action, and the Masters Conference is a first-rate platform to do it from.
Other subjects warrant examination and, in some cases, articles. Thomson Reuters has bought the CaseLogistix business from Anacomp. Autonomy and FTI (and no doubt others) have both launched interesting and important additions to their application portfolios. Another good UK e-disclosure article has caught my eye which needs endorsement as to most of it and a big caveat as to one point. The implementation of the Bribery Act has not been postponed for very long; it will come into force next April. As in so many other things, the outgoing government was more interested in the quantity of its legislation than in its quality, and new Justice Minister, Ken Clarke, is keen to ensure that the implementation has as much considered buy-in as possible from those – principally the businesses on whom the Act’s burdens will fall – with an interest in the outcome. We have forgotten what it is like for government actually to take account of industry views. There has been a lot flying past on Twitter about EU data privacy and data protection which I must catch up with.
There has been more going on, but this much will, I hope, explain why this site has been post-free this week and why there are some loose ends to tie up. One more paper to write and one more law firm session, and I can start catching up.