September 3, 2016

It’s Friday morning and ILTACON16 is in the books.  This is my favorite conference of the year, for several reasons. First, ILTA is a user group for IT folks at law firms, which means they have a very degree of technical understanding. Second, they are interested in solutions that work well in their IT structure so they have a wider view of technical specifications.  And third, they talk with each other about vendors and solutions so they are well versed in the overall market tensions and variations.

The show was well attended as always, with approximately 1500 people on site. This made for good interaction in the conference venue, the National Harbor Gaylord. But the size of the venue also meant that the exhibit hall had plenty of elbow room. With 1500 attendees and close to 200 vendors in the hall, this was a welcome change from other shows with small uncomfortable venues.

Another feature of ILTACON is close placement of social events so that vendor parties and receptions for special groups were easy to find and therefore attend.  My favorite this year was the Bryan U reception at the Public House which had a great attendance of ESI luminaries including Michael Arkfeld, Casey Flaherty, Scott Cohen, Craig Ball, Ian Campbell and Kim Taylor. Host Bill Hamilton showed us a short video trailer discussing the schools latest project, an online ESI competency course.  It looks very promising and more information will be forthcoming on the schools web site.

The educational sessions were, as always, tremendous. Three and a half days of multiple sessions on a host of technical issues.  Security was a topic of high interest as was info governance with overtones of ediscovery.  And panels on project management and metrics with Mike Quartararo of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Scott Cohen of Winston Strawn were big draws.

Mike also was at the Authors Corner showing off his new book Project Management in Electronic Discovery. It is literally the first book on the subject and was a big hit. KCura even bought a number of copies to give away in their booth.  Great job Mike

And I was personally heartened to see the attendance at two lit support specific panels I was speaking on that were held Thursday afternoon, the last slot of the conference for educational sessions.  On the first one I was the moderator for A Road Map To Gathering and Analyzing Client Discovery Data Across Matters which featured AD’s own Kate Head as a panelist with ILTA stalwart, Chad Papenfuss, Litigation Support Services Manager at Kirkland & Ellis, roving the audience with a microphone and prompting discussions. Great session!

The second was the lit support groups conference ending  annualGather ‘Round for a Litigation Support Roundtable.  Great turnout of over 40 people including Kate, Chad, Julie Brown of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease and Craig Ball with a lively discussion on new technology and trends that left us heading home on a high note.

Finally I must note that this ILTACON was the swan song for Executive Director Randi Mayes, who has announced her retirement.  I’ve known Randi for more years than either one of us cares to admit and she has always been a great leader and an even better person. We’ll all miss her.

All in all a great conference with excellent content and attendee discussions. I highly recommend it and hope to see you more of you next year for ILTACON17 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Tech Assessment and You

August 22, 2016

From this weeks Advanced Discovery Advanced Discovery blog:

I’ve been following the blog series on Insourcing vs. Outsourcing, by my Advanced Discovery colleague Matthew Verga, and found this week’s chapter especially interesting. The series is basically a more detailed deep dive into the topic that Matthew and I addressed in a webinar a while back (you can see a replay of the presentation here:

The most recent installment is called Organizational Self-Assessment: Technology Factors and can be found on the Advanced Discovery blog page at  The topic is Technology Factors which, as Matthew defines in this context, refers to an organization’s overall technology resources, sophistication, and comfort level.  In reading that, I came to realize that when we did our webinar, we didn’t mention the wonderful tech audit tool for attorneys.

The tool was first developed by Casey Flaherty ( ) when he was Corporate Counsel at Kia Motors. The short version is that while at Kia, Casey decided to test the tech skill level of the company’s outside counsel.  A full background of that story can be found in an ABA Journal article at

The more recent development is, that after leaving Kia, Casey started doing consulting work, and teamed up with Professor Andrew Perlman, Dean of Suffolk University Law School (, to create a new tech test he calls the tech audit. Suffolk has a legal technology think tank called the Institute on Law Practice Technology & Innovation (, and together they have created a Legal Tech Assessment project ( This project uses the tech audit to not only show how much you know (or do not know), but also how much time you waste on basic tech tasks when you don’t know enough.

It’s a fascinating story with equally fascinating results.  Take a look at some of the links to read about the results. You’ll be surprised.

Or not.

And don’t forget to follow the rest of Matthews’s series. Next week he’ll be writing about financial factors, the third of his four categories of key factors for organizational self-assessment. And later in the month, he’ll begin the fourth category, human resources factors before finally turning to key takeaways from the entire series.  Don’t miss it.

Help The Folks Flooded Out In Looziana

August 16, 2016

PAy It Forward

TAR and Keywords and Proportionality: Oh My!!

August 10, 2016

I’ve waited a bit to write this post because I wanted to see what my colleagues were saying about the latest opinion from Judge Peck. In ED circles, a new ESI opinion from Judge Peck is more highly anticipated than the next Bruce Springsteen CD, except maybe in the Facciola household where The  Boss is revered just below … well, actually I’m not sure his status is below that of anything in the Facciola home except, of course, Mrs. Facciola.

Earlier this week Judge Peck opined in the case of Hyles v. New York City ( No. 10 Civ. 3119 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 2016) that proportionality trumped TAR. And he didn’t beat around the bush about it, stating in the very first paragraph of the order:

“The key issue is whether, at plaintiff Hyles’ request, the defendant City (i.e., the responding party) can be forced to use TAR (technology assisted review, aka predictive coding) when the City prefers to use keyword searching. The short answer is a decisive “NO.” “

His reasoning was, of course, that the absent an agreement of the parties as to a specific search protocol, the applicable standard is the Sedona Principle 6, which holds that

Responding parties are best situated to evaluate the procedures, methodologies, and technologies appropriate for preserving and producing their own electronically stored information. (The Sedona Principles: Second Edition, Best Practices Recommendations & Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production, Principle 6 ,

Well the Twitterverse exploded with comments about how Judge Peck declined to order the parties to use TAR this and Judge Peck pulls back on TAR enthusiasm that. In the spirit of the impending football season all I can say is “Come on man”

First off, we all know that Judge Peck has never ordered anyone to use TAR.  He’s entered orders in several cases where the parties agreed to use TAR, a factor that had not happened in the Hyles case.

And this lack of a fundamental understanding of the fact that in the legal profession (that’s profession, not industry) the word “order” can be either a noun or a verb.  I lay this lack of understanding squarely at the feet of the ever increasing assimilation of eDiscovery software and services companies by people who have no legal background. I’ve said it before and I won’t go off on that particular rant again here.

Rather I’d like to just point out one part of the proportionality debate that seems to be missing.  Judge Peck in Hyles mentions cooperation and speed of process, and refers to the Tax Court decision in Dynamo Holdings Ltd. P’ship v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue 143 T.C. 9, 2014 WL 4636526 at *3 (2014, which spoke to the same considerations.

But in his decision, J Peck notes on page 3 that “… in general, TAR is cheaper, more efficient and superior to keyword searching.”.   I think that if I say “not so fast” one more time in a column that I’m going to hear from Lee Corsos attorneys but I have to say that I don’t believe the issue of “cheaper” has been clearly established.  Even in Hyles, J Peck says at Fn 2 that “The Court acknowledges that some vendor pricing models charge more for TAR than for keywords. Usually any such extra cost is more than offset by cost savings in review time.”

I respectfully argue that there has been no empirical validation of that statement that I have seen.  Now it may very well be that vendors have filed briefs in matters that address that point or even presented substantiation for such a positon during the submission of attorney fee claims in cases that I have not seen. So what I’d really like to see is a case study that shows the efficiency based on price savings not time savings of TAR on a particular set of documents.

Not that time savings is irrelevant or should not even be the deciding factor. But it should be just that: a factor. One factor of several to be weighed in the process of which tool to use.

I note with interest that David Horrigan,  E-Discovery Counsel and Legal Content Director at kCura, in a blog post on another case this week, the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last week in Xiong v. Knight Trans (see ) mentioned that  “We’ve always been skeptical of attempts to use the 1985 Blair and Maron study to argue that keyword searches are only 20 percent accurate”.  I’ve also disagreed with the general proposition that TAR is always better than keyword searching ( see my post Reports of the Death of Keyword Search Are Greatly Exaggerated at ) and I think the point here is the same one that Judge Peck makes on page 5 of the Order in Hyles.

“ It is not up to the Court, or the requesting party (Hyles), to force the City as the responding party to use TAR when it prefers to use keyword searching.  … While Hyles may well be correct that production using keywords may not be as complete as it would be if TAR were used (7/18/16 Ltr. at 4-5), the standard is not perfection, or using the “best” tool (see 7/18/16 Ltr. at 4), but whether the search results are reasonable and proportional. Cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(g)(1)(B). “

And as one consultant in our field (who wished to stay above the fray so I will not use his name) said to me recently:

“Choice of predictive coding, managed review (with or without validated search), or just validated search does NOT pre-determine success.  … So a bad protocol might lead to poor results in all three, and a good protocol might turn south in all three if calibration and QC is missing, or if it is improperly applied.  Ultimately it is only “better” if a reasonable production is made without substantial critical documents left on the cutting room floor.”

As I said several years ago in another column about another issue   ( ) :

“It’s the archer not the arrow”.


What Do GC’s Really Want in an eDiscovery Vendor?

July 15, 2016

From this weeks Advanced Discovery blog:

For those of you who haven’t seen it, earlier this week Matthew Verga, the VP of Marketing Content here at Advanced Discovery, posted the third part of an ongoing series discussing insourcing and outsourcing of eDiscovery functions.  This week’s post is called ‘Models, Benefits and Challenges of Outsourcing’ and can be found here.  Part 1 is available here andpart 2 is available here.

Matthew and I also did a webcast, just over a week ago, on the same subject.  Called “eDiscovery Insourcing vs. OutsourcingFiguring Out What’s Best for Your Organization,” a recording of the program can be viewed by registering here:

But meanwhile, I thought it would be interesting to get an unbiased view of the topic and see if our perspective matched up with comments from other observers:

Ari Kaplan is a leading independent legal industry analyst and is the principal researcher for a variety of highly respected benchmarking reports.  He is also widely in demand as a speaker for events in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and throughout the U.S.   Ari is an inaugural Fastcase 50 honoree and a finalist for ILTA’s Thought Leader of the Year award and, like both Matthew and Tom, regularly competes in Ironman triathlons.

OK, Tom and Matthew don’t compete in triathlons.  I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

What we DO have in common with Ari is monitoring the eDiscovery space for trends and performance statistics.  To that end, every year, Ari Kaplan Advisors produces a market research report called E-Discovery Unfiltered: A Survey of Current Trends and Candid Perspectives.  It is based on independent, anonymous interviews with 25-30 professionals responsible for eDiscovery decision-making, and in 2016, Ari personally spoke with 9 in-house lawyers, 9 in-house legal administrators, and 8 AmLaw 200 law firm partners about vendor management trends and recorded their direct impressions of 20 companies, including Advanced Discovery.

Of the 18 respondents from corporations: 5 were in financial services, including banking and insurance; 4 were in life sciences; 3 were in retail; 2 were in technology; 2 were in manufacturing; 1 was in energy; and, 1 was in entertainment.  Of those 18, 65% worked for companies with revenues that exceed $10 billion, and 69% worked for companies with over 10,000 employees.

Among other topics, the report addressed where in-house legal teams are investing, the issues that e-discovery leaders are most concerned about, and the qualities that matter most to them when working with a vendor.  You can read more, including how to order a copy of the report, at

But what I found most interesting is the chart below, which was reproduced on the AKA web site. It shows some trends that Matthew and I have been discussing, and that the ACC has also reported in their surveys, namely that pricing is not the most important factor to either GC’s or litigation support personnel at corporations.

What IS important to them are things like technical skills, project management, communication, security, and service.  Price is important but not as important as performance.  Just as Matthew and I have been pointing out.

So read Matthew’s postlisten to our webinar, and look at Ari’s site.  I think you will find them most informative, especially regarding the skills that GC’s want from their ED vendors.  Performance not prices.


Is eDiscovery Really Too Expensive?

July 8, 2016

From my post on this weeks Advanced Discovery blog :

Those of us who work in the eDiscovery profession (and yes it’s a profession, not an industry . . . that’s a personal foible that’s best left for another day’s discussion) are constantly asked why the process is so expensive. A while back, one attorney actually posted in a discussion thread:

Why is EDD and Data Processing So Expensive? Why can’t IT or my secretary do this? I know that we have all been faced with this so I am wondering if anyone can point me to a few good references, as I want to write a document that the average person can read and understand. This will help from having to explain this 300 times a year.

The answers have ranged from the comically brief: “It runs on magic, and magic is expensive.” and “Why should lawyers get to make all the money?” to the concise and erudite answer posted by George Socha:

” ‘Why is EDD and Data Processing So Expensive?’: Processing ESI can be expensive because consumers demand that the work be done very quickly and with a high degree of accuracy and reliability, in conditions where it may well be that at the outset no one knows the scope of the undertaking or the complexities and challenges to be encountered along the way. Prices vary greatly, at least in part because “processing” means many different things. Prices have dropped considerably; as a result, however there now is the danger of consumers paying such a low price that providers end up cutting too many corners, with a drop in quality that may not be acceptable.”

But really to me the query seems to beg question, “what is ediscovery”?  Ralph Losey took a shot at the issue several years ago on his blog, The e-Discovery Team ( ) but it seems to me that anyone who truly understands what e-discovery is would know that the answers to the question (leaving aside the obvious comment that 65-70% of the cost of any e-discovery project is the attorney review, so if e-discovery projects are too expensive, the fault lies with the lawyers’ fees) are:

  1. Because you need special training, and
  2.  It isn’t too expensive if done properly

As to “Why can’t IT or my secretary do this?” If your IT folks or your secretary has an acceptable level of expertise and experience and are provided an acceptable level of resources, then they CAN do the work.One is not able or unable to handle the challenges of dealing with ESI simply because of the name of one’s employer or the title of one’s position. An organization does not magically become qualified to engage in electronic discovery activities simply be calling itself an electronic discovery provider, nor is an organization automatically disqualified simply because it is a law firm or a client. Rather, it is a question of expertise, experience, resources, and the like.

What the question really shows is the disdain attorneys tend to have for people with technical training, no matter how experienced or well educated they are. I mean come on now, would that same attorney ask why his IT or secretary couldn’t draft a motion for summary judgement or a restraining order?

The fact is that most attorneys think if you don’t learn it in law school it isn’t professional and anyone should be able to do it. As the dean of one prestigious law school once told Browning Marean and I when we approached him about doing an e-discovery course: “we train architects not carpenters.”

Which is why in New York or Chicago or LA first-year associates fresh out of law school make 2-3 times as much as IT and lit support professionals with 10-15 years’ experience. And why Michael Arkfeld continues to say that 95% of the attorneys in the country don’t understand ediscovery at all.

So is building a house too expensive when you get your inexperienced, unlicensed friends to do it for you? You bet. But get a professional carpenter, know what you’re doing when you negotiate with them, and you’ll get a great house.

The same principle applies here.

ACEDS 2016 Conference Is In New York City Next Week, and Certification Is Still Center Stage

April 14, 2016

From this weeks Advanced Discovery blog:

ACEDS is holding their 2016 E-Discovery Conference on April 18-20 at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York. Hundreds of ACEDS members will be attending to advance their education and career.

ACEDS gathers top judges, industry leaders, attorneys, litigation support staff and vendors to deliver knowledge on trending e-discovery topics and offer solutions to the most pressing issues in e-discovery by exchanging that knowledge among speakers and attendees.



The conference does assume a basic level of e-discovery experience and knowledge and all the sessions are designed in open format with panelists who may have different opinions on breaking issues to express them freely. Peer networking is a major component as well, with free flowing discussions at a variety of social events.

Known as an interactive conference, attendees are encouraged to dialogue with all the speakers, and from groundbreaking jurists to hardworking paralegals, speakers and attendees at this event traditionally place a high value on community, collaboration and conviviality.

The Conference will feature:

In addition to efficiencies in current practice and grappling with cutting edge e-discovery issues, special sessions will be focused on employment, career advancement and emerging adjacent opportunities for technical legal people. Those special sessions begin on Monday with a CEDS Exam Prep Seminar taught by e-discovery expert Attorney Helen Bergman Moure followed by a seminar on Cyber Security for Legal Professionals and a Law Student Blogger session.


In addition, EDRM will be holding their Spring Workshop on Monday and more information on that event can be found on the EDRM web site at

The ACEDS program kicks off on Tuesday morning, and a full schedule can be found at  I’ll be speaking with Craig Ball in a program called “The EDNA Challenge: Part 2.”  We’ll update the analysis done in Craig Ball’s influential paper “E-Discovery for Everybody: The EDNA Challenge” by discussing how to handle e-discovery on a $5000 budget.  The program will demonstrate proven and cost-effective methods, as well as some creative new ways to do discovery on a shoestring budget.

Then, later that afternoon, I will be doing an “E-Discovery & Pro-Bono Workshop” with attorney Suzanne Clark, CEDS, Vice-President & Membership Chair of the Jacksonville FL ACEDS Chapter. We’ll discuss traditional pro bono activities as well as newer activity in education, the vendor world and small firms, finishing up with a call to action for new mentoring efforts in this much needed area.

So, if you’re New York next week, come by the Grand Hyatt. And, if you can’t make it, email me at so I can fill you in on everything we discussed!