WHY WHAT WE DO IS IMPORTANT

August 21, 2017

I spent last week in Las Vegas attending ILTACON17, the annual users conference of ILTA, the self-described “… volunteer-led, staff-managed association with a focus on premiership.”  It is essentially an enormous peer to peer group of legal IT professionals and the conference has become arguably the best technical educational conference in the legal space.

So, with all the educational activity going on there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to remark once again on the subject of why technical education is important in our profession.  Several years ago, at an ACEDS conference, I was speaking on a session about our profession with my old friend, Mary Mack. At the time. Mary was a consultant like myself and now, of course, she is the Director of ACEDS.

We were answering questions from the attendees and a paralegal asked, “should I bother to go to law school?” I answered “yes, because what we do is important” and went on to expound on that answer. E-discovery is about getting the right digital evidence produced in a, as FRCP 1 notes, “…just speedy and inexpensive manner” for use during litigation.  So, our first task in handling eDiscovery for a client is to do an efficient job in a prompt manner. Our clients have an ethical duty to provide that to their clients and they expect us to assist them in making that happen.

But the attorney’s ethical obligations involve more than just handling documents in the proper manner.  Yes, their duties to their clients involve loyalty and confidentiality but they also have duties to the court to properly oversee discovery and to be technically competent.

All of these duties involve insuring that the process works effectively in a manner which directly effects public confidence in our judicial system. That confidence has been dropping for years, as illustrated by the graphic below as well as by reports from various public entities.  See for example http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/marketresearch/PublicDocuments/perceptions_of_justice_system_1999_1st_half.authcheckdam.pdf or http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3277&context=lcp .

graph

Couple that with high prices for eDiscovery,  litigation becoming bogged down in technology gamesmanship, law schools ignoring technology training and document handling gaffes like the recent Wells Fargo case and the already low public image of lawyers worsens even more

That is why is has become even more important that we “Get It Right” and thus, why educational conferences such as ILTACON17 are so important. Lawyers traditionally don’t embrace technology but, in the words of Craig Ball in an interview in EDiscovery Daily blog in March of 2012:

 “Understanding information technology is a necessity for litigators.  Why? Because that’s where the evidence lives. “

That’s why we need to know all this technical information. Knowing how to handle ESI will enable you to create an effective document retention plan, defend that plan, properly collect data, process that data and mount it in a  review platform that an attorney can confidently use to review documents and argue his or her case.

If you know how to handle these issues you won’t find yourself stumbling in front of a judge or special master trying to explain where the documents went. And that is a very good position to be in.

As the Hon. Lee Rosenthal of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division and Former Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules of the Judicial Conference once said:

“Litigation habits and customs learned in the days of paper must be revisited and revised. The culture of bench and bar must adjust.”

Helping your client make that adjustment gives confidence to not ol them but the public at large that our judicial system is working.

And that’s important.


Join Tom O’Connor At ILTACON17

August 12, 2017

How do you avoid the pitfalls and assure the rewards of technology? Come chat with me at ILTACON 2017 as I join the team at CaseManager Pro and your peers to continue that discussion we started in our webinar two weeks ago.

You can see the webinar on YouTube here or simply join us in Booth 136.

ILTA 2

Lights! Camera! Action! The Cameras Are Rolling At ILTACON17 to Discuss Your Thoughts About Technology

August 3, 2017

 

ILTACON17

Stop by Booth #136 to share your experiences with the CaseManagerPro team and Tom O’Connor.  We will be recording and sharing stories of tech success and shortcomings in a continuation of the discussion we started in our webinar of July 26th.

If you didn’t make it live for that webinar you can see it on You Tube by clicking here . Then come by the booth, have a coffee with Tom and tell us why you think technology either delivers or fails on the promise of ROI.

And remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  Except for whatever we capture on video!!

 


Is Your Technology Working for You or Are You Working for It? Free Webinar with Tom O’Connor & Chuck Cole Discussing The Problems Implementing Technology.

July 14, 2017

Businessman using ROI Return on Investment indicator for improving business performance

Email. Blogs. SaaS. CMS. E-Billing. Push Marketing. Law firms seem to be overflowing with new technology. Why, then, does the 2017 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey say that our profession is faced with an urgent “… need for greater efficiency” in the face of “… the inexorable force of technology innovation” and that legal technology has “… not delivered on its promise of greater efficiencies?”

We want to discuss this failed expectation. Is it really technology’s fault or, rather, the way we implement technology? If technology is just a tool, are we using this tool correctly? We want to hear your stories – the failures as well as the success stories. This first webinar will be the start of a process designed to uncover the core issues and collaborate to find answers that can make a real difference.

The beginning of this discussion will be a webinar on July 26th at 11:00 A.M. CDT.  Chuck Cole, Lucid IQ Director of Client Engagement and expert in knowledge management and business processes, will be joined by Tom O’Connor, attorney, consultant, and independent expert in managing the litigation process, to discuss their combined 60 years of experience helping law firms and corporation’s to take a fresh look at making technology work for you.

You can register for the webinar here.

Speakers

Chuck Cole, Director of Client Engagement at LucidIQ, has extensive experience in business process management (BPM), project management, strategic knowledge management & other roles that optimize use of information & results. Chuck helps our clients implement innovative practices & strategies that optimize effectiveness & value. Chuck holds an M.B.A from Georgetown U.

 

Tom O’Connor is the Director of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center, a legal think tank based in New Orleans. He is a well-known consultant & speaker & is also a prolific writer in the area of computerized litigation support systems. Tom’s consulting experience is primarily in complex litigation matters where he has worked on numerous major cases, most recently the BP litigation.


Why Is TAR Like Ice Cream?

July 10, 2017

From my Advanced Discovery blog of July 7:

Short answer: because both have so many flavors.

You wouldn’t ask me to go to the store to “get some ice cream” without telling me what flavor you want.  But everyone these days is talking about TAR (Technology Assisted Review) like it’s a flavor all its own.  By everyone, I mean columnists, bloggers, consultants and sometimes even judges.

Remember the cases Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company v. Aventine Renewable Energy or Independent Living Center of Southern California v. City of Los Angeles, where courts ordered the use of predictive coding after extensive discovery squabbles? Or more recently, Judge Peck declining to order the parties to use TAR in Hyles v. New York City, by which, in that case, he meant predictive coding.

Which illustrates my point: what do we mean when we say TAR?

When it comes to TAR, pretty much everyone agrees with this framing statement made by Maura Grossman and Gordon Cormack in their seminal article, Technology-Assisted Review in E-Discovery Can Be More Effective and More Efficient Than Exhaustive Manual Review, (XVII RICH. J.L. & TECH. 11 (2011):

Overall, the myth that exhaustive manual review is the most effective—and therefore, the most defensible—approach to document review is strongly refuted. Technology-assisted review can (and does) yield more accurate results than exhaustive manual review, with much lower effort.

But then things go south. Why?

First, because it is always unclear if TAR is a synonym for predictive coding as the cases above illustrate.  And as a further example, in a recent post on Ralph Losey’s blog, E-Discovery Team, a sub-title states, “New First Class Added to the TAR Course,” with the first sentence then stating, “We also added a new class on the historical background of the development of predictive coding.”

Second, because any discussion of TAR involves selecting documents using algorithms. Algorithms. Math. Warning. Warning. Danger Will Robinson. Attorneys react to math the way astronaut David Bowman reacted to HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey – like it’s trying to kill them.

Want a good example? Take a look at Ralph’s most recent blog about his TAR course.  Great course, extremely comprehensive, tremendous insight into TAR.  But here’s a paragraph from the site:

Ralph misspoke in the video at point 8:39 when he said 95% confidence interval, he meant to say 95% confidence level. The random sample of 1,535 documents created a probability of 95% +/- 2.5%, meaning a 95% confidence level subject to an error range or interval of plus or minus 2.5%.

Gain curves, x-axis vs y-axis, HorvitsThompson estimators, recall rates, prevalence ranges and my personal favorite “word-based tf-idf tokenization strategy.”  All this geek talk makes me yearn for the days of Trover and Replevin.

Third, because we’re talking about a process, not a product. The Wall Street Journal made exactly that point in a 2012 article entitled “Why Hire a Lawyer? Computers are Cheaper.”  Ralph calls it the multi-modal approach: a combination of people and computers to get the best result.

Everyone agrees that manual review is inefficient (the lawyer part), but nobody can agree on what software the lawyers should use and how: the geek part.  And when geeks start disagreeing over technology, that’s when things get uncertain.

So where does this leave us? 

The idea behind predictive coding – that technology can help reduce the cost of eDiscovery – is a great one. But figuring out what pieces of technology to apply at what point in the workflow is not so easy, especially when the experts disagree as to the best methodology.

Remember when Judge Facciola said in the O’Keefe case that areas of technical expertise are where even angels fear to tread? Believe me — the angels are taking a BIG detour around this subject.

My advice?

Before you think about using more advanced technology, use basic tools early on: dedupe, denist, cull by dates, sample by custodians and start with basic search terms that are agreed upon by both sides. Then get an expert to perform more advanced analytics who has legal experience and can explain the procedure to you in simple English.

TAR isn’t a piece of software. It’s a process that can include many different steps, several pieces of software, and many decisions by the litigation team. If you and/or your expert can’t quickly and concisely explain that process to the Court as easy as you can order a waffle cone with one scoop of rocky road, one scoop of chocolate pecan fudge, jimmies and some pineapple sauce, then you may find yourself on the receiving end of a document exchange protocol order drafted by the party who could.

To see all the Advanced Discovery blogs, go to http://www.advanceddiscovery.com/blogs/


Still Time to Register for Georgetown Law eDiscovery Training Academy

April 21, 2017

Supreme Court

Georgetown Law’s eDiscovery Training Academy is guaranteed to provide you with a unique learning experience. The Academy’s full-week curriculum will give you a total immersion in the subject of eDiscovery, featuring a highly personalized and interactive instructional approach designed to foster an intense connection between all students and a renowned faculty.

The Academy has been designed by experts to be a challenging experience leading to a comprehensive understanding of the discipline. It is demanding, but it will be one of your most exciting and successful learning experiences if you are determined to invest the time and effort.

This years Academy will be held from June 4 -9.  To register for the Academy, please visit this page.


Bill Hamilton of U of Florida Levin College of Law & Tom O’Connor of Advanced Discovery talk computer basics for lawyers on a free webinar

March 1, 2017

Join Bill and Tom on Wed March 8 at 12PM Eastern as they discuss “Computer Basics for Lawyers: Building the Foundation of E-Discovery Competence”

This one-hour program will present for lawyers an overview of computer and network operation basics and illustrate why understanding basic computer operations and architecture is critical for a successful e-discovery practice. The program will build from a discussion of computer logical gates to understanding the structure of computer files as collections of on and off bits.  It will also explain basic computer programing and how a computer performs such task as adding and “remembers.”

From this foundation the program will explore the operation and implications computer peripherals, the range of computer devices, computer networks, social media, cloud computing, and the emerging “Internet of Things.” The program will emphasize how the various operational and architectural features of computers and networks impacts and triggers the decisions lawyers must make when navigating the preservation, collection, processing, review, and production phases of electronic discovery.

Free registration is available at: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/e9926315a616f9be34538d7d4481ef37