Craig Ball reminds us on Facebook that it is two years since Browning Marean died. Although the eDiscovery industry is a fairly friendly place, I suspect that most of us would be forgotten within a month of turning up our toes. Not Browning. Here is Craig Ball’s warm appreciation.
To an Englishman, the highest praise you can give a man is to say that he is or was a “good bloke”. Browning was certainly a good bloke, but he was also an ambassador for his firm, his country and for eDiscovery, a man who imparted more knowledge (and, more importantly, wisdom) than anyone else in eDiscovery, and the man who gave so many (including me) their first leg-up in the industry.
One of my themes at the moment is how the various jurisdictions are beginning to respect each other more when it comes to eDiscovery. Browning did more than anyone to achieve this. Here’s what Craig Ball said on that subject:
Browning Marean was the world’s best known and most admired ambassador for e-discovery, the peripatetic mayor of our global village. No one traveled further, spoke more or put a better face on the American approach to the exchange of information in litigation than Browning. Lawyers around the world think Americans mad when it comes to civil discovery; but when they heard Browning speak, when they heard that mellifluous radio announcer voice, they thought better of us. And that was Browning in a nutshell: a wise, avuncular presence who just made you feel that everything would be all right. He touched my life for good, and I will miss him with all my heart. In that, I am far from alone.
In my article Goodbye old friend: Farewell to Browning Marean, I recounted how he gave me my first audience in the US:
He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He went out of his way to introduce me to anyone he thought might be useful or interesting – most of them were both. At that 2008 LegalTech session, he did more than have me shake hands with individuals; he made me stand up and talk to a packed room. I was in the front row, my coat, camera, laptop and papers on my knees. Vince said something, and Browning said “I think Chris Dale may have a different view on that”, forcing me to dump all the clutter, stand up and turn to talk to the large audience. I was not best pleased at the time, I have to say, until I realised what he was doing – he wanted to give me the opportunity to be heard and to make myself known, something he has done for a generation of people who might not otherwise have come forward.
On the way out, a stranger said “I know who you are – you’re the guy who writes that blog”. If I can point to a moment when I raised my ambitions above my own jurisdictional patch, that was it. Browning did that for me, as he did for many others.
In a Cornish churchyard, I made a short video tribute on the day of Browning’s memorial service in Escondido. In the video (you will find it below), I picture Browning at some celestial bar, greeting old friends and making new ones. Among his friends on earth was our old Labrador Saxon, seen here with Browning in the Oxford University Parks in November 2010, along with my wife Mary Ann and George Socha.
I remember talking to Browning about the shortness of a dog’s life, little dreaming that Saxon would actually outlive Browning. Browning cast his mind back to his own family dog: “If half as many tears are shed for me as were shed for that dog, I will know that I was loved”.
You were, old friend, you were.
Browning was a rare individual. Unselfish and giving of his time, knowledge and mentoring. He was an incredible asset to this industry and personally to me during my tenure at ALM…all of the products I had the pleasure of working on bear a little of Browning’s DNA. A phone call never went without a timely and well constructed response. A request never was meet without consideration for the needs of the peers it would effect rather than the inconvience it may place on his personal or professional calendar.
Thank you Chris for this wonderful reminder of an individual we should all strive to emulate. And thank you Browning for leaving us all with a goal and level to continue to reach for
What a wonderful tribute. I had the pleasure of speaking with and meeting Browning on numerous occasions, one such occasion was at ILTA 2010 in Las Vegas. I was working for an E-Discovery company and we had a vlog where Browning, Tom O’Connor and a special guest discussed and even sometimes debated the topics of the day relative to e-discovery/ discovery. I was never an expert at e-discovery and was likely one of the worst e-discovery sales representatives in that field as I was more of an operations guy. In the minutes leading-up to this vlog at ILTA 2010, Browning was gracious and full of energy about the excitement around this particular conference. He took particular interest in our 3 minute or so conversation about my background, where I was from and I explained that I had much to learn to make me a better e-discovery representative. His advice: Read everything you can get your hands on, attend work-sessions, and network with knowledge leaders. Be passionate and make sure you really enjoy what you are doing. He shook my hand, slapped my on the back and off he went to record this vlog. Once he was done I watched him leave our booth and off he went with boundless energy shaking hands, chatting and laughing as he went on to his next appointment. You could tell the man was having an absolute blast. Lesson learned: do what you love to do! Bring passion. Be a leader! Network. While Browning influenced and likely touched thousands of e-discovery leaders through the years, his impact in that brief meeting for me stuck with me. “Do what you love to do!” It stuck with me on the flight back to DC…”Do what you love to do!”
When I learned of Browning death two years ago, it really struck me with shock. Obviously, I had not been keeping up with him as I took his advice, “Do what you love to do” and found a role outside of the e-discovery industry where I have ultimately been quite successful. I appreciate those 3 minutes he set aside for me on that day. This wise man may have noticed that this guy who was in the midst of a mid-life crisis (had just turned 40) was ready to take on the next challenge. I just needed the push and in that brief moment he presented clarity. Thanks Browning for providing that moment of clarity and for being respectful. Your influence remains etched in our memories. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuKZoD3nj6M
Family aside, I can honestly say I have never felt a loss as much as I have on the passing of dear Browning. Then again, in our professional world, he was family. He gave me the confidence to do all I do today in my professional life. An inspiration. Whenever I am in a quandary as to how to deal with something (or someone), I frequently ask myself “how would Browning have dealt with that?” RIP dear friend.