It is never the right time to write about newly-dead friends, but it seems fitting that I should be writing my appreciation of Nigel Murray on a flight back from an eDiscovery conference in the US. Nigel was the first of us to find that US discovery audiences wanted to hear about UK and EU discovery from Brits, and preferably from one whose spoken English resembled the Queen’s, whose cuff-links and laced black shoes implied certain standards, and who was as charming to waiters as he was to potential clients.
Here’s a photograph of Nigel Murray at Legaltech in New York in February 2007:
It’s not great technically – I had bought my first “proper” camera earlier that day – but Nigel’s friends will recognise the pose and hear his voice. That was the first week I set foot in the US, and my first sight of US discovery in its native habitat. Nigel Murray (and Jonathan Maas) made sure I met people and was included in what was going on. Some of the messages I got yesterday focused on Nigel’s role in doing just that – making introductions and making people feel comfortable.
As I have recorded elsewhere, I met Nigel Murray in 1993. We made trips together to try and bring electronic disclosure to the north of England, staying in rural Yorkshire pubs en route to Leeds and Newcastle, where blank incomprehension greeted our efforts. We did a presentation together in Edinburgh, where we were assured that Scottish courts were content with manual discovery and, indeed, feared giving encouragement to lawyers who might be ambitious to change matters. Our joint marketing did not, let’s confess, give rise to much joint work, but we helped a regional firm run rings around a city giant who didn’t get this electronic idea at all, and we did one or two other modest joint ventures using his company’s people and processes and my software.
In his early days, scanning was done at his home, with efficient parties of local ladies disaggregating bundles and putting them back together at the kitchen. Meanwhile, I graduated from writing document listing software in dBase II for DOS and moved on to the new-fangled Windows. In time, Nigel moved to bigger ventures and I moved away from software and data and into commentary. What brought us together again was data protection, data privacy, and cross-border discovery, subjects which caused US audiences to gape in disbelief at the idea that a human right to personal privacy might trump an American litigant’s right to full discovery. Nigel Murray organised and moderated panels at many US events – at ILTA, at the Masters Conference and at Legaltech for example. He planned on a big scale – at one of them he had about ten of us lined up across the stage for a two-part discussion on the perennial subject of cross-border discovery. Many US people got their first understanding of the complexity of UK and EU discovery from Nigel.
Most years I saw more of him in the US than in the UK, whether or not we were doing a panel together. Lots of memories: sitting with him in cold dawns on the bench which used to be outside the Hilton on 6th Avenue; joining him for meals in decent restaurants; waiting at airports together; expecting his question – he always asked one – whenever I was moderating a panel; the time we had to talk him out of taking to the Central Park ice rink; the annual Commonwealth Brunch on the Sunday before Legaltech. Then came his accident and the uncovering of the illness which caused it.
I last saw Nigel Murray by the Grace Gate at Lord’s last June after an eDisclosure event there. Although he looked well enough, all things considered, I think I knew that I would not see him again. There is no point in regretting the lost opportunity, as I now see it, to tell Nigel how much he was appreciated. I hope he can hear what everyone is saying about him today.
Here is Nigel at an event in Dublin in 2012. I will dig out some more photographs for a future article.
Others have written about Nigel Murray while I was on my way home, notably Craig Ball and Jonathan Maas. Both articles carry fine pictures; both show how much Nigel was appreciated by those who knew him.