It was my pleasure to moderate again the International Panel at Relativity Fest. That usually involves an enjoyable trip to Chicago for most of a week, doing my own panel, attending others, doing several video interviews, and meeting up with people I see only once or twice a year.
This year, Relativity Fest was virtual, a mixture of live and recorded sessions. The International Panel was recorded and so I was able to be on holiday in Scotland (where we went for a week and stayed for two) while the virtual me was leading a discussion on the various subjects which make up the ever-widening ambit of discovery worldwide.
The panel members were chosen to reflect both the range of subjects and the range of people now engaged in them. The speakers were Meribeth Banaschik of EY in Germany, Inés Rubio of BSI in Dublin, Karyn Harty of McCann FitzGerald in Dublin, Jonathan Armstrong of Cordery in London and David Horrigan of Relativity.
I make first the point I made at the top of the panel – virtual panels broaden the range of potential speakers because not everyone can leave their families and skip off abroad for a few days. Whether one likes it or not, this adversely affects more women than men.
David Horrigan of Relativity, the mastermind behind Relativity Fest’s subject-matter panels, put it like this in an article on the Relativity blog, quoting what I said on the panel:
A point I’d like to make here is that half this panel are women. There’s no quota—that’s just what we got by wanting the best people. As an industry, we need more speakers. Is this a chance, I wonder, to get a more diverse set of people to take part in panels like this? So treat this as an invitation, please, to anyone who would like to be a panelist to apply to Relativity and say, “I’d like to do this.”
Although the context was virtual panels, the point applies for the future when we can all meet up for panels again. Panels like this need to cover developments in the law, and we did that. What I try to get to in my panels is a step beyond legal developments. What is happening in your world? What challenges are you facing, and how are you facing them? The “you” in that could be *you*, and Relativity is always looking for new faces and voices willing to talk about their daily work.
What of the panel itself? Privacy is of continual and growing importance. Schrems III with its overturning of the Privacy Shield is new and perhaps too exciting for those who have to deal with it. The California Consumer Privacy Act brings the excitement close to home for many Americans.
Given the importance of that subject and the skills of the speakers, we could have spent our whole hour on privacy. The panel, however, was the “International Panel”, not the “Privacy Panel”, and I set a 30-minute cut-off for privacy so that we had time for other subjects.
Privacy and data protection nevertheless inevitably recurred when we came to talk about investigations, about self-collection, about ephemeral data and about the preservation of the growing volume of video meeting data.
With two Irish panel members, we covered the possibility of new litigation rules in Ireland and the data impact of Brexit.
At the end, as I usually do, I asked each panel member for a short point to take away. Meribeth Banaschik had some words for those who are finding working life (and life generally perhaps), difficult at the moment. The rest took their cue from that, and the last few minutes of the panel made the point that e-discovery and its offshoots remain a relatively small activity, with a community willing and able to look after others.
My thanks, as always, to an astute and interesting group of speakers and to Relativity for organising efficiently this completely new and different form of event.