There is much more to organising a conference than the mechanics of bookings, venues and other practical things. It requires a good understanding of the industry to which the conference is addressed, a wide range of connections in that industry, and the ability to attract sponsors, speakers and delegates in circumstances where the interests of each of these groups is dependent on the others – delegates come for the programme, speakers like to know that they will have an audience, and sponsors expect to reach delegates who might be interested in the products and services. That is not a circle which I would care to handle.
Now add a dimension – a London-based conference team is organising an eDiscovery conference in the US, the spiritual home of eDiscovery, in competition with many other providers for whom this is home territory. A big hat tip, therefore, to Abi Manders and the team from Legal IQ in London whose Information Governance and eDiscovery Strategy Exchange, held outside Washington DC in September, was a great success. Jason Velasco, writing in eDiscovery Journal, described it as “one of the most intense structured education/networking schedules I’ve seen in our industry”. I fully endorse that description.
I always bid high when asked whom I would like to see on my panels at these conferences. Years ago, this group asked me who I would like to see on a London panel. “Grimm and Facciola” I said ambitiously. I got a call a few days later: “They have agreed to come. What would you like to do with them?”. The result was the first proper US–UK judicial eDiscovery panel, with Judge Grimm and Judge Facciola representing the US and Senior Master Whitaker and HHJ Simon Brown QC for the UK. I and Patrick Burke from Guidance Software made the most of that, setting a high target to beat with stimulating discussion and exchange of ideas from these leading judicial thinkers.
When asked the same question this year, I asked casually for Mr Justice Frank Clarke from Ireland, for any judge involved with the New South Wales Practice Note SC EQ 11, for one of the two UK judges named above, and for any one or more of the handful of US judges (and it is still only a handful) who knows the subject and can speak informatively and entertainingly about it. And that is what I got – six judges from four jurisdictions on one panel, each of them expert both in their own jurisdictions and in the principles which apply in every jurisdiction. There is more on this in my summary of the panels themselves.
My wife and I went out a few days early, giving us an opportunity to see Washington. As we boarded the plane, something made me picture The Spirit of St Louis lined up nose-to-nose with the Boeing and wonder where the tail of Lindbergh’s plane would come relative to the Boeing’s nose. I did not know at that point that the Spirit of St Louis still exists and is hanging in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, where we saw it a couple of days later.
The Spirit of St Louis
Another enduring memory, from a big list of them, was the Korean War Memorial, ghostly white figures moving alertly through a forest in their ponchos.
The Korean War Memorial, Washington
The USA does war memorials better than anyone else in the world, and my last picture, before turning to the conference itself, is from the wonderful selection of equine military figures at the front of the White House.
Civil War equine statues outside the White House
There is a selection of my Washington photographs here.
How does one summarise the “intense… schedule” to which Jason Velasco refers? I have notes enough to make a small book from the useful information which poured off the platform. It makes sense, for your sake as well as mine, to pick one or two points from each session. I will do that in a separate post, to follow shortly.