One of the influential figures in US ediscovery gets very cross at references to the “ediscovery market”, as if the commercial connotations somehow sully the purity of the context of rules and judges and justice which the ediscovery / e-disclosure industry supports. I am pretty keen myself on the “pure” side of it, and more widely than my ediscovery remit, which is why civil liberties and the relationship between rulers and ruled turn up in these pages from time to time.
The “market” side of it, however, is both integral to the delivery of justice and interesting in its own right, both in the delivery of legal services and in the technology which is my own particular concern. What I do touches on several different aspects – business processes, technology, the law itself, and marketing. Periodically, I am asked: “What exactly do you do?”. One of my children, when asked this question recently, said “He writes a blog”, presumably leaving the questioner little the wiser. What I do is, of course, of interest to others only to the extent that it throws light on the market. If I describe my day in London on Thursday, as I am about to do, it is because it touched a lot of industry corners, and not because my own diary is likely to enthrall anyone for its own sake. It nearly included a rather closer interaction between rulers and ruled than I generally look for.
Planning a law firm seminar
The first e-mail of the day concerned a planned seminar at a regional law firm in conjunction with Epiq Systems. I gave a couple of talks at the firm last year and, quite separately, they made contact with Epiq. They picked up on the connection between me and Epiq (Epiq are amongst the sponsors of the e-Disclosure Information Project) and have now asked if we will do a joint presentation. The e-mail tells me that 30 people signed up for the seminar as soon as it was advertised. The short title for the session (their choice of words, with no leading from me) embraces both forensics and the topical question whether lawyers are about to be replaced by technology. That is a good heading for the message that teaming up with an e-disclosure provider brings document-heavy litigation within the reach of firms outside the Magic and Silver Circles, and this is exactly the kind of firm which is well-placed to do just that.
An Australian e-Discovery conference
No, no, I do not mean that I dropped in to Melbourne on my way to London. I do not consider a 21,000 mile round trip an excuse for missing a decent ediscovery conference, but the run-up to IQPC London is not a good time to wander off. I would have liked to hear the speech by Patrick Collins, Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Law Reform Commission, having had some input into the discovery inquiry which is pending there; Browning Marean and George Socha were speaking, as was Eddie Sheehy of Nuix, Michelle Mahoney of Mallesons Stephen Jacques and Beth Patterson of Allens Arthur Robinson, all of whom give good value on conference platforms. I eavesdropped via Twitter on the way in London and by emails from Geoffrey Lambert of e.law. It would have made for a good party, quite apart from anything else.
Walking through Gray’s Inn
My route from a personal errand in Bloomsbury to my first meeting in Holborn took me through Gray’s Inn and past the building where I served my articles and qualified as a solicitor. There is more than mere reminiscence in this – a row of buildings which then housed four or five firms of solicitors is now home to barristers chambers very much larger than existed back then. One of my predictions for the future of UK e-disclosure is that the new business models for barristers will include business groups capable of handling large disclosure exercises in tandem with a provider of specialist e-disclosure services. Solicitors will watch the bathwater running out before thinking of inserting the plug. Challenge me on that prediction in about 18 months.
Catching up with FTI
I was down that way to catch up with Jim Vint, a managing director with FTI Technology. Jim is a model interviewee if you like current information thrown at you in succinct packages, which I do. I was not with him for much more than 30 minutes, but picked up a good idea of current developments, particularly in relation to FTI’s work with banks and other financial services companies. Part of my dark past in litigation technology involved writing customised routines for extracting text strings from data fields or unstructured text and using them to look for or to validate something else. FTI does this on the grand scale, something which is increasingly vital as banks are required to know more and more about their ever-larger repositories for compliance and regulatory purposes as well as for litigation. I will write more about this in due course
Lunch 1: First Advantage Litigation Consulting
What is a chap to do when he gets two invitations to lunch on the same day? My pragmatic answer was to put the two hosts in contact with each other and ask them to liaise as to timing and venues. I had my starter with Robert Brown, Jerome Torres Lozano and Drew Macaulay of First Advantage and with Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy. First Advantage are running a workshop called Understanding and overcoming hurdles in cross-border disputes or investigations on the opening day of IQPC on Monday 9 May. They also have a panel on the Wednesday of IQPC about the Electronic Documents Questionnaire which forms part of the EDisclosure Practice Direction 31B; Vince and I are taking part in that, and the purpose of the lunch was to plan how to package as much practical help as we could into a succinct 45 minute session. First Advantage have the technology, Vince and I both helped draft the PD, and Vince has been using it in anger (or, rather, in co-operation) since before its official launch.
Lunch two: IQPC EDiscovery Exchange in Berlin in November
One of the best events which I attended last year was IQPC’s EDiscovery Exchange in Munich. I wrote about it here. These things do not plan themselves, and my second lunch was with Patrick Ryder and Katie Judd of IQPC to start talking about this year’s Exchange, which will be in Berlin. So far as I am concerned, promoting the conferences and helping to make them a success is very much part of my role in advancing awareness of the subject, and I am always pleased to be asked to get involved in the planning. It is premature to say anything about it here, but do contact Katie Judd if you want to know more about it, whether as a potential sponsor or as a delegate.
Meeting with Ben Hammerton of Epiq
Ben Hammerton is Senior Business Development Manager at Epiq Systems, and it is he who will come with me for the law firm presentation mentioned above. These two-handers need a certain amount of planning particularly when, as here, our subjects have been given to us by the firm. The second part of our heading (the bit about whether lawyers will be replaced by technology) gives us the opportunity to cover the overall business process which Epiq, as a consultancy company offering both a document review service and software applications, is well placed to do.
Launch of Huron Legal’s new premises
I have already reported Trilantic’s move to Connaught Place and now put to the test Nigel Murray’s assertion that Huron Legal’s new premises are easy to get to. Indeed they are, being the first building across the Edgware Road from Marble Arch station. The launch party took place in a large glass-covered basement, conveniently placed for us to see the pods for Huron’s new document review service which was being launched at the same time.
Amongst the guests, I came across Ian Manning of Raposa Consulting who, when at FoxData, was the first to back my idea of becoming a kind of educational ambassador for the e-disclosure market – that is why Raposa’s logo appears at the top of the list opposite this article. Ian sees more countries in a fortnight than even I see in a year, collecting data from every corner of the globe, including places which most of us will never see and some we would not want to.
Master Whitaker made a campaigning speech. We are, he said, still encountering an unforgivable lack of awareness of fundamental things like the requirements of the rules and the basics of technology. We need to move on into real training and education on how these things can be used to control the time and costs of litigation. He acknowledged the contribution which companies like Trilantic had made towards the advance of understanding in this area and wished Huron Legal success in the new business and in continuing that educational role.
A near-appointment with Heckler & Koch
My way home lead through a leafy square which looked a good place to experiment with my new camera – I like night scenes, and the street-lights and uncurtained windows made an attractive combination. This is not a surreptitious action – open a big bag, take out the camera, line up for the best position, move a bit and take another one, put it all away and move on. Reaching the top of the square, I came upon some heavily-armed policeman, and realised that this is where Tony Blair lives. Regular readers will know that I am deeply critical of policeman who interfere with tourists and others taking photographs in public places, but even I accept that those guarding a public figure of Blair’s standing at a time of terrorist threat are entitled to view all passers-by with suspicion, especially those drawing technical equipment out of a large bag in the dark. I imagine they took the view that anyone with ill-intent would have been rather more circumspect than I had been.
It must be odd having Blair as a neighbour. It is not clear whether he is a congenital liar, clinically delusional or, as he himself would have it, simply thinks that whatever you say is right as long as you think it right to say it. Ignoring his former political importance, how do you interact socially with a man whose word you would check against the speaking clock if he told you the time? If he came to the door and asked to borrow a cup of sugar, would you accept his explanation that Gaddafi, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Kylie Minogue had all popped round unexpectedly for tea, or would you ring for the men in white coats? You would want thick walls, though, wouldn’t you what with [Next three lines edited out; the fact that Mr and Mrs Blair seem keen to tell us all about their sex life does not warrant quoting them on the subject in a serious business article. Ed]. On the plus side, of course, I imagine that the risk of burglary is pretty low with those serious-looking fellows lurking in the square.
Home to some e-mails and to one of those ghastly year-end tasks which one’s accountant lobs over from time to time with the rider “no rush – later this week will do”. That is one non-core activity which is being delegated from now on.
If, in the style of Bridget Jones, I were to enumerate the day’s activities, I can’t complain – four meetings with sponsors, planning for a conference and for a law firm seminar, keeping up with an Australian conference, and a near-brush with Messrs Heckler & Koch, all rounded off with billing apportionments between financial years. There are less productive ways to spend a day.