Amongst the many interesting contributors to the IQPC Information Governance and eDisclosure Summit taking place in London from 14 to 16 May is Allison Stanton, Director of eDiscovery, FOIA and Records for the Civil Division of the US Department of Justice. She is taking part in a keynote panel about regulatory obligations, enforcement priorities and expectations along with Dean Gonsowski of Recommind and Keith Foggon of the Financial Conduct Authority (I don’t usually link to the web sites of government agencies, but this one is new and you might want to see what they do).
Allison Stanton is a reason on her own for attending this event, far and away the most interesting and lucid speaker on this subject from any regulator. She has been interviewed by Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, something I missed when it was published in February. Here is a link to their article DOJ Director Talks About Investigations and eDiscovery Technology.
The most interesting section in the interview is the one about costs, in which Allison Stanton makes it clear that whilst the DOJ’s primary driver is its “core mission to protect the American public”, it is willing to listen to companies who are able to explain “in nuts-and-bolts terms” the costs and burdens which they anticipate in complying with a regulatory demand. One would not mistake anything she says as implying that the DOJ will compromise on its core mission, but the invitation is there to open discussions around cost and burden.
Although the context, and probably the outcome, is different from civil proceedings, the idea that one should be able to predict costs and, perhaps, suggest alternative ways of achieving the requisite objective at a lower cost, applies equally in other eDisclosure / eDiscovery contexts. There is a particular skill, rooted in hard fact, in arguing for a more proportionate course without appearing to be short-changing the requesting (or in a DOJ context, the demanding) party.
There are plenty of other reasons for attending this event – it was one of three events which I wrote about here and I won’t repeat myself save to abuse the privilege of being the chronicler and promote the Jackson reforms panel which I am moderating at the end of Day 1 with a judge (HHJ Simon Brown QC), a solicitor (Mark Surguy of Eversheds), a barrister (Damian Murphy of Enterprise Chambers in Newcastle) and a provider in the form of kCura’s Steve Couling.
I am also moderating a judicial panel, with judges from England and Wales, Ireland and Australia comparing notes of developments in their respective jurisdictions.