A Little Craig Ball, A Little Forensic Examination Protocol, A Little Legal Innovation, A Really Big Microphone. That’s Why We Call It TechnoGumbo.

September 10, 2018

In the most recent eDiscovery Channel interview, Tom O’Connor asks Craig Ball about his new Forensic Examination Protocol. Then he adds some lagniappe with a short discussion about Ron Friedmann’s article Legal Innovation Takes More than Talk.

All right here on the eDiscovery Channel on YouTube.


Can eDiscovery Really Be Done Within Microsoft Office 365? Help Us Find Out.

September 6, 2018


I’m working with Don Swanson, president of Five Star Legal  to find out just how many firms out there are actually using Office 365 for eDiscovery. To that end, Don and I have come up with the O365 Challenge, a successor to the  2009  EDna Challenge posed by eDiscovery expert Craig D. Ball  and my 2011 follow up to that, the Ernie Challenge.

The twist for this new hypothetical challenge is that, like EDna and Ernie, the matter in question still has a budget restriction but all relevant data now resides within Microsoft Office 365.  We really want to know if Office 365’s eDiscovery capabilities are for real? Can litigants achieve the goals outlined in EDna and Ernie within Office 365? Can big case eDiscovery processes be handled within Office 365 on a small budget?

Why Microsoft Office 365?  Most people know O365 as a software-as-a-service offering of email, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications. Office 365 and the Microsoft Cloud are used by most of the Fortune 500, as well as federal, state and local governments and educational institutions.

Like other cloud services, the Office 365 servers and applications are managed and maintained by Microsoft. And while Office 365 subscribers cannot access the physical machines where their data resides, Microsoft has introduced eDiscovery capabilities, which are built-in to the service and purport to handle key functions, including identification, preservation, analysis and collection.


A multi-national company is facing commercial litigation from a former supplier. The company believes the lawsuit is frivolous yet realizes there is at least $400,000 of potential financial exposure and the likelihood of significant legal expenditures. The business employs 750 and last year the company moved all email and SharePoint content to Microsoft Office 365.

The company general counsel has identified 10 employees who are likely to have data relevant to the lawsuit. Although she has retained outside counsel to handle the litigation, the general counsel is determined to control costs by dealing with initial eDiscovery aspects internally. To that end, she is familiarizing herself with the Electronic Discovery Reference Model™ and is meeting with the company information technology team to explore Office 365’s eDiscovery features.


The general counsel asks: Within the company’s Office 365 E3 licenses, which processes can be performed in-house to help control costs while meeting legal obligations?

The general counsel identifies several goals:

  1. Avoid purchase of additional software or hardware.
  2. Preserve potentially relevant email, including metadata.
  3. Analyze content using advanced search including keyword, date range and Boolean.
  4. Establish a defensible and cost-efficient workflow.

We have built a survey which asks about eDiscovery capabilities in Office 365, including:

  • Information Governance.
  • Identification.
  • Preservation.
  • Collection.
  • Processing.
  • Review.
  • Analysis.
  • Production.
  • Presentation.

The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M2MS95Q. Survey responses submitted before Oct. 15, 2018, will be included in the white paper detailing the Microsoft Office 365 Challenge findings which Don and I will publish later in Q4.

So please take a few minutes and answer the survey. Or, if you prefer, just send your comments directly to Don or myself and we’ll be sure to include them in the final report.


August 29, 2018

image_968784b9-7112-4555-bb36-26e753146a1820180824_183034 (2)

I just spent a very relaxing weekend with Gayle at my sister’s house in Noank CT.   Sunny, low humidity, light breezes, lobstah, cigars, fire pit at night in the back yard, more lobstah.  At one point during a relaxing moment in an Adirondack chair (with a lobstah and a cigar), my sister said to me, “don’t you want to go do something” and I replied, “I’m doing it”.

But at some point between crustaceans, Gayle and I spent a little time recapping the ILTACON18 conference we had attended the week before. You can see her summary in this week’s ACEDS blog at https://blog.aceds.org/  as well as other recent posts by Bob Ambrogi and Kevin O’Keefe which capture the details of the show but I thought I’d add a few thoughts of my own because … well because I’m out of lobstahs and cutting back on cigars.

I had some initial trepidation going in to the conference given all the administrative issues, including the shakeup at ILTA HQ and the dust up over press credentials before the show.  (See my blog post at https://technogumbo.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/what-in-the-wide-wide-world-of-sports-is-going-on-at-ilta/ ) But once there, I saw that the event was being run very smoothly and was another resounding success.

I think there are several reasons for this.

First is the sessions. If the slogan for the real estate profession is “location location location” then the slogan for a professional conference should be “content content content.”  ILTACON18 offered anywhere from 35 to 40 sessions a day for four straight days and it was not just the volume of the sessions but the actual content.

These were professional discussions across a wide variety of topics ranging from training to lit support to enterprise management to back office applications and even the state of the profession. They covered topics for small, medium and large firms and featured excellent speakers and (mostly) a minimum of selling from the podium by speaker who were vendors.

Second was the organization. As always, ILTA volunteers did an excellent job of staffing and running the show.  But beyond that, it was the people themselves.  ILTACON is, after all, a user conference and the 1800 ILTA member attendees not only have their jobs in common, but they seem to genuinely like each other. That gives the conference a personable feeling that reminds me more than anything else of New Orleans, where people say hi to you on the sidewalk when you pass. Unlike people in Virginia and DC who seem startled when you do that.

Two examples arose from the admin issues I mentioned above. After I wrote my blog post about press passes and bloggers, I received a call from ILTA staff saying they had received a number of member comments about the policy and wanted to discuss how to revise it.  And at the show, ILTA members held a town hall meeting to discuss the issues around their recent leadership changes.

The point is, this is a group of people who aren’t afraid to discuss problems they are having openly and candidly  and then collectively make changes to adjust what they are doing. That aspect reminded me of growing up in Vermont and attending town meetings as a young boy. Democracy in action and a forum where everyone has an opportunity not only to voice their opinion but feel like it is being listened to and respected.

Isn’t THAT refreshing!

Third, of course was the venue. ILTA seems adept at finding venues large enough to handle their large turnouts. 4100 was reported for ILTACON18, a new record. And the Gaylord in National Harbor not only accommodated but managed the flow of traffic easily and comfortably.  There was actually room for Matt Homan to move his Idea Wall several times to new locations.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZIWEBdN3lM.

Next year the conference will be at the Swan and Dolphin at Disney World Orlando and the year after, at a personal favorite of mine, the Gaylord in Nashville. Both great venues that make attending a large conference still seem like fun.

Finally, two personal notes. The Co-Chair of the next two conferences will be Julie Brown, Litigation Technology Manager at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Columbia. I’ve known Julie for years and in addition to her being a great person for the role who will do a wonderful job, I love that a lit support person will be helping run things.

And second I must mention the ACEDS Monument Sunset Cruise up the Potomac River.  A riverboat full of CEDS members enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner and great conversation as well as celebrating Mary Mack’s birthday. A relaxing evening with friends and a wonderful setting.


So great job once again ILTA. Craig Ball says you are his favorite conference and as we like to say in New Orleans, “yeah you right Craig”.  If you want to attend a tech conference with deep dive sessions across the entire gamut of law firm technical needs and mingle with knowledgeable tech people who are happy to discuss their experiences, this is the conference for you.

Browning Marean, Rounding Third & Being Thrown Out At Home

August 15, 2018

The 2 and Only

Later this week, Gayle and I will be heading to ILTACON18. And in making our travel plans, I began thinking of Browning. He and I had been going to ILTA conferences since they were VSLUG meetings, back when the two of us first met in San Diego.

Browning left us in 2014, right at the same time as an ILTA conference, and it still seems like it happened last week.  To say he was friend of mine doesn’t even begin to describe that relationship and his absence feels like how Shoeless Joe Jackson described getting thrown out of baseball in Field of Dreams: “it was like having part of me amputated”, Still.

Numerous people wrote about how they felt when he passed. If you want to capture the sentiment at the time I’d suggest you read Craig Balls tribute or that written by Chris Dale on his site  or the words of Ralph Losey.

I’d tell you to look at my thoughts at the same but since I wrote them for ALM, they were somehow grabbed by the fine folks at Lexis and put behind a paywall so you can only read what I wrote if you have a Lexis subscription. I refuse to give them a dime to read an obituary I wrote for my pal and I have posted the original at the end of this piece.

But here on the anniversary of his passing, I’ve asked a few of his friends to tell us what he meant to them.  I started, as I always do when looking for inspiration, with Gayle. She told me she always thinks about how he had a big smile and bigger hug when he saw her and how he always made her feel “part of” not just the conversation but the entire legal community.

Other thoughts came quickly:

“A mischievous sparkle in his right eye. More pithy sayings than any person has the right to know. Browning in the lobby with his Tilly hat and rain jacket, ready for a power walk somehow always ending at the best pub you ever wanted to visit.  And friends.  Friends everywhere.  Everyone knew Browning (no need for a surname).  Everyone wanted to be with Browning.  And everyone was special, truly special, to Browning.”

George Socha

“Browning is missed everyday by me and overall within Today’s General Counsel Magazine and Institute. As one of the creators of our “Exchange” interactive programs, we honor what he has helped us achieve and his contributions are recognized at the start of each of our programs.  A true friend in every regard of the word.”

Neil Signore

“Although he and I worked at competing law firms, for many years Browning had a huge positive influence on my career.  At a couple crucial junctures, he took the time to mentor and support me.  Especially when I co-chair conferences in a unique format that he pioneered, I miss him dearly.

Robert Brownstone

“ILTA’s scholarships in Browning Marean’s name are a fitting tribute to a man who inspired many of us who talk and write about eDiscovery. It was not just the law and practice – though there was plenty of that – but Browning was the best communicator I knew.”

“Browning showed that you can be interesting and light-hearted about serious subjects so that audiences absorbed knowledge without realising it. He went out of his way to encourage others, especially younger people, to take part in panels and webinars. He mixed naturally and easily with everyone from judges to the rawest recruit. I still miss him.”

Chris Dale

“It’s been four years since we lost Browning Marean.  It feels like forever…and yesterday.  I think and speak of him often.  Every day I feel his absence in the arc of e-discovery since his death on August 22, 2014.  Browning witnessed law’s transformation from esteemed profession to big business.  His career from local litigator to global presence was emblematic of that sea change.  Browning dutifully served the consolidation even as he mourned what it had done to his firm and to law practice generally.  Perhaps the monster snuck up on us for the very reason that good and decent men like Browning were its face.”

“I miss Browning’s face at the many events where he was a welcoming, warming presence.  His attendance was assurance that courtesy, camaraderie and mischief had also arrived.  He connected people and empowered them.  He bridged the old and new with a smile and kind word.  Often, I ask myself, “how can I be more like Browning?”  The answer always points in  a better direction.”

Craig Ball

“Browning was an excellent attorney, technologist, communicator and motivator. But as good as he was at all that, he was even better at being a human who celebrates life.”

Bill Speros

“Browning had a special gift. He was able to present e-discovery in a soft, approachable way. Of course e-discovery is difficult and important, but Browning also made us laugh and that encouraged everyone –lawyers, clients, professionals — to dig into together.  I recall his quip that he always had a defibrillator ready when discussing e-discovery costs with clients!  Browning made sure the weight of e-discovery was always lighter.”

Bill Hamilton

And this last remembrance is from Paul Weiner.  We read it at the Second Line for Browning that we did in New Orleans after his death.  Paul couldn’t make it but he sent this and asked that I read it … I did so on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street with food and music and friends all around.  A real New Orleans funeral. I think Browning would have liked that.

The 2nd line hits Bourbon Street (002)

Paul wrote:

“I first met Browning through Laura Kibbe who had invited me to participate in a West LegalWorks conference.  When I asked Laura on what topic I would be speaking she told me: “Reach out to Browning, and he’ll take it from there.”

“When I first connected with Browning on the phone, we had the most wonderful conversation where he asked me all about myself and when he found out I was a voracious reader, gave me some recommendations of books to read.  He also briefly noted that my panel would be on the use of Special Masters in eDiscovery.  I asked whether we should prepare an outline and schedule some prep calls with the other panelists?  Browning’s response: “I don’t like my panels to ‘peak too soon’; we can get together at the conference.”

“Fast forward to the conference.  The night before: no prep.  At breakfast: no prep.  During lunch: no prep.  Because I am an über-“Type A” personality who over prepares for everything – especially public speaking – I was now getting nervous.  About five minutes before we were set to take the stage, Browning called all of us together and said, “By now you all probably have gleaned that I believe in ‘just-in-time preparation’.” Pointing at each of  us, he continued, “You’ll cover topic A, you’ll cover topic B and you’ll cover topic C.” We then went on stage … and Browning proceeded to ask each of us questions about totally different topics than the ones he had just identified.  But you know what?  The panel was GREAT.  DYNAMIC.  INFORMATIVE. Instead of pre-planned scripts and talking points, we actually had a dialogue with spontaneous interaction.  And because we were so engaged, the audience was as well.  Furthermore, because of Browning’s great skill as a moderator, there was never a lull in the conversation.  Although I may not have fully appreciated it, Browning knew each of us on the panel actually knew the subject matter and could handle this format, and we covered the essential teaching points that would have emerged had we prepped for weeks on end. ”

“While I am still a firm believer in (over) preparation, Browning taught me that oftentimes life is about “just-in-time” preparation,  both from a professional standpoint (like when a client calls with a pressing issue that needs immediate attention, or when a Judge puts you on the spot during oral argument, or when a witness opens up an unexpected line of inquiry that can turn a case during a deposition), as well as from a personal standpoint (like when a friend calls and needs your help, or when a family member has an unexpected moment to celebrate, or when your daughter walks for the first time and you take the morning off to laugh and play with her despite the pressures of your career). ”

“Just as importantly, Browning was a total class act.  He was selfless, witty, brilliant, kind and a gentleman.  I will miss laughing for hours with him over drinks and dinner, his thought-leadership and his friendship.  However, I will also continue to remember a great lesson from a great man that sometimes “just-in-time” preparation is the best way to live your life.”

So Browning, we’ll miss you my friend, but none of us will ever forget you.

gayle at second line

And, as promised, here’s what I wrote right after Browning died

When the great Irish poet Yeats died, W.H. Auden wrote a commemorative poem with the refrain “… the day he died was a cold dark day.”  When I heard of Browning’s death, it was 96 and humid in New Orleans but my mind immediately went to a cold dark place. Bil Kellerman said losing him was like losing a brother and it was. But I felt, and continue to feel, more like Shoeless Joe Jackson in the Field of Dreams when he told Ray Kinsella that “Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me amputated.”

I feel like that. Like some vital part of me is gone.

Because Browning was more than just a colleague to me. He was my friend.  For nearly 25 years.

We met in San Diego at the wonderful  tech conference that Stuart Hubbard (now with Epiq) used to put on every 4th of July at the Hotel Del Coronado. It was a wonderful show …… I met Neil Aresty there and Michael Arkfeld and Anne Kemp.  I had just moved to San Diego to help a firm install Summation (the DOS version) and ended up staying to help them convert a Wang network to Novell. Browning was at Gray Carey fending off complaints from his fellow partners that he had been seen by associates typing on his personal computer.

But technology wasn’t what led to our friendship.  In fact we were an unlikely pair. He was, as Craig Ball noted, a patrician Yankee from New England. I was a working class Irish guy from south Boston. He was a WASP. I was Catholic. He liked to quote Shakespeare, I dropped lines from The Boss. He was a Republican (yikes) …  I was a die-hard Democrat.

But two things led to our friendship. We were both world class smart asses, way too smart for our own good.  We were witty and pretty and …… well you know. Despite his mostly well-spoken demeanor, he would often erupt in a blaze of vulgarity worthy of Bull Halsey and refer to these outbursts as the appearance of his evil twin brother Skippy. As in, “I was listening to him speak thinking what a stupid SOB he was when, lord love a duck, up popped Skippy and let him have it with both barrels.”

These outburst were legendary with vendors who crossed his path or more importantly made life difficult for his staff and a dictionary of his most popular  phrases was actually used by several law firms as their way of checking emails for inappropriate content.  He was singularly proud of that.

But our true bonding occurred when he learned that I was a fan of Bob and Ray.  Actually I think he liked me the minute he realized I KNEW about Bob and Ray. The Two and Only …  New England comic legends. Think Bob Newhart but even more sardonic and more laid back.  And two of him. We would talk incessantly about characters like Wally Ballou, an inept news reporter “and winner of 16 diction awards” or sportscaster Biff Burns (“This is Biff Burns saying this is Biff Burns saying goodnight”) . He particularly liked their commercial sets such as  “Gerstmeyer’s Puppy Kibbles, the dog food guaranteed to turn any pet into a vicious man-killer”.

His favorite was the interview with the President and Recording Secretary of the Slow Talkers of America. He played a recording of that piece on his laptop in the lobby of a hotel one evening and we were both literally doubled over, laughing, gasping for breath, tears running down our faces and squealing like two little girls. A staff member came over and asked us to “please quiet down or retire to your room”. We looked at each other and erupted in another uncontrolled fit of hilarity. We weren’t staying at that hotel!

But he wasn’t all wise cracks and belly laughs. I’d  be remiss if I didn’t mention several other qualities which Browning pretty much kept to himself. He was from New England, where good fences make good neighbors. He was a man of great faith but he didn’t wear his faith on his sleeve or beat you over the head with it. It was his faith not yours.  I’m not a bible thumper myself  but in thinking of him I think of Acts 11:24, “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith…”.

He loved his family but wasn’t one to show pictures or talk of family vacations. Thank God.  Yet whenever he mentioned his wife, even in passing, a look came into his eyes and a tone came into his voice that anyone who has been in love with another person for a long, long time would recognize immediately.

And he had a sense of old school manners and social propriety that were very New England.  He loved the fact that I would open car doors for Gayle or stand when a woman came to the dinner table.  He once became so incensed at a fellow panelist of mine at a Masters Conference session ( and I am beating back my own personal Skippy to not name names here) who kept referring to our moderator, Judge John Facciola, as “John” that he stood up, glared at the person and walked out of the room. When I asked him later if he had spoken to the person, he said “No I was going to give him a piece of my mind but I couldn’t spare one and I didn’t think he’d know what to do with it.”

So as I’m writing this Gayle walked by and mentioned, “oh, this is just the time of day Browning would call you”.  On his morning commute into San Diego (which as Chris Dale noted was often only a brief stop on his travel itinerary) he would call friends because we were, as he put it, “smarter than most of the talk radio I can get here”.  We would talk about everything from how long it took the British navy to disperse citrus fruits throughout their entire fleet to cure scurvy (42 years) to whatever happened to wearing hats that didn’t have a sports logo.  We talked about the sea and our wives and our friends and Ted Williams and, as the great Walter Mosely had Easy Rollins say at the end of the novel Devil In A Blue Dress,  “we talked and laughed a long, long time…”

So I’m tempted to say something like “good night sweet prince” but he’d hate me sucking up to him like that. And he’d say so.  No he wouldn’t want us making a big fuss about his life or his death. As Marc Lauritsen tweeted this morning  “He’d exhort those of us still living to cherish each other.”    As we say in New Orleans, “Yeah you right Marc.”

Last year when Ross Kodner died, I walked around ILTA telling my friends I cherished their friendship and wanted to be sure they knew that BEFORE they died. So go do that. Tell all your friends how much they mean to you. Today. While you can .

I regret so much that I didn’t get to speak to him one last time.  Bruce said it in a song,  “I wished I would have known. I wished I could have called you. Just to say goodbye”.

But like Browning, Yeats wanted no fuss over his life or death.  The Irishman had these words written on his headstone in a remote cemetery on a country road in Ireland where people pass by every day, words from one of his last poems that I think Browning would endorse:

“Cast a cold eye

On life, on death.

Horseman, pass by.”


Oh, and write if you get work Browning.



August 13, 2018


Bob Ambrogi channeled his inner Yogi Berra last week in a column entitled “déjà vu All Over Again“.  In it, he recounts how a week before the ILTACON18 Conference, that organization announced that CEO Dan Liutikas was resigning effective Aug. 31 and will not attend the conference.  Two years ago at this same time, longtime ILTA Executive Director Randi Mayes announced her retirement. She was replaced by Dan, who last year at this time, announced that he was replacing Peggy Wechsler who, as Director of Programs and Strategic Relationships was the primary organizer and well known and widely admired public face of, the annual conference.

Dan’s tenure had been rocky, beginning with his stormy relationship with Peggy and the ill-advised, IMO, timing of letting her go a week before the opening of the conference she had spent all year planning. Especially since she had previously said, albeit informally, she was considering retirement at the end of 2017. That type of handling of a long time and valued employee set the tone for his tenure.

The reaction of a good portion of the membership was best captured in an open letter sent by Rick Hellers President & CEO of nQueue and a founding member of ILTA. Hellers eventually left ILTA to launch of a new organization named the Association of Legal Technologists (ALT) but before that his letter to the ILTA Board made several points:

  • Will ILTA remain peer-to-peer or continue to move towards a hierarchical approach?
  • Will the organization focus more on its members or on its revenue?
  • Will it emphasize education or will it continue to scratch the backs of the largest law firms?
  • Will ILTA’s leadership once again walk the walk and refocus on its Statement of Purpose and Core Values?

He concluded by saying, “ILTA’s trend toward commercialism has been obvious. Educational sessions at ILTACON used to be mostly about solving specific problems and led by those who have done so. Now they are often panels led by unprepared “big names” from big firms who simply pontificate.”

“Simply put, we are concerned that ILTA has lost its way.”

I had been around ILTA since the late 80’s when it was still VSLUG, a WANG VS system users group.  I was living in San Diego and had met Browning Marean, who asked me to go to meetings with him. It was everything a user group should be: fun, educational and focused on solving users problems.  They incorporated the group around 1985 as I recall and by 1992 many users had expanded well beyond WANG systems, leading to a name change to LawNet.  Several years later they became ILTA.

That original user group was a support group for VS users but it evolved into a strong peer to peer network. Even today the organization’s statement of purpose: “ILTA provides the premier environment for peer connections, education and collective intelligence to leverage the strategic advantages of technology in the legal profession.” But as Dan stated that purpose seems to have been lost.

Beyond internal organizational uncertainty, here’s another good example of lack of clear institutional focus: the curious ILTA attitude towards bloggers.  This year a number of prominent bloggers who had been long time supporters of the group and its conference were surprised to find that their application for a press pass to attend and report on the show were denied.

Two stood out to me. First was Craig Ball, who called ILTACON the “best conference ever”. In 2013 !  Second was Chris Dale, who was allowed a pass for himself but not his longtime videographer, who we all know better as his son Charlie.  That combined with the fact the “press corps” were not given rooms in the Gaylord made the prospect of lugging video equipment in and out of the hotel every day part of what Chris described to me as ” …. an indicator of a changed climate, and the last straw.”  He (and Charlie) will not be there.

Why the cold shoulder for these long time supporters of ILTACON?  Well it seems to now qualify for a press pass (which includes bloggers) you must    ” … work for a publication, news service, broadcast outlet or news site that is regularly issued and published primarily for the dissemination of news, and operates independently from any commercial, political, government or special interest. Only media whose primary responsibility is the coverage of the legal, legal technology, technology industry, workforce tech issues, and related news will be considered for credentials.”

So only a writer for an entity that primarily disseminates news, has no commercial interest and covers primarily legal can qualify?  Which means if I were, say, the technology columnist for a regularly published newspaper like the New Orleans Advocate or the Boston Globe, I wouldn’t qualify.  Not exclusively legal.

Which explains why ACEDS, a non-profit membership organization for eDiscovery certification testing doesn’t qualify (disclaimer: my wife is their blogger and she was turned down) But wait, a technology writer for the ABA Journal does qualify?  Both are non-profit membership organizations.

CORRECTION: On 8/16, Mary Mack informed me that “ACEDS is a for profit LLC, part of the BARBRI Group family of companies.” So despite their exclusively legal technology focus and membership, their blogger is excluded because ACEDS has a commercial interest.

And non-commercial?  Craig and Chris’s staff don’t qualify but Kevin O’Keefe does? I could have sworn when Kevin says he provides “Strategy, professional design, platform, coaching, SEO, marketing and free ongoing support.”, he was describing a business. Now granted, Kevin has LexBlog, which IS a major legal news network. Of bloggers.

So maybe it’s just plain ole bloggers that ILTA doesn’t like.  But really, I thought the point of blogging was that blogs gave independent viewpoints and were NOT part of major news network.  I mean if you look at the ABA Top 100 Legal Blogs, only ATL, Law Sites and maybe 3 Geeks and A Law Blog (oops, no, I was just told they were turned down as well) and the SCOTUS blog, although the last isn’t really a news organization, would qualify. So two, maybe 3, of the ABA Blawg 100 Hall of Fame make the cut.

And in this year’s ABA top 50 blogs? I’d say BigLaw Business qualifies altho Bloomberg covers much more than just legal technology but OK let’s give them that one.  One.


I don’t think ILTA knows what a blog is and why they were started and just how many there are in our space. Or more importantly, how influential they are and how much good press they provide. You know. Like a member benefit. At no cost to them.  But using the ABA definition of “journalists” shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what a blog is. Not to mention following the lead of an organization that has seen their market share of lawyer members cut in half over the last several decades as current and prospective members complain of lack of meaningful content, overly expensive meetings and unwieldy technology.

Or maybe they do know and just don’t care. Maybe they don’t want to give out free passes and just want to make money on every admission fee possible. After all, they have 25,000 members. The problem is they only get about 1800 to attend. Less than 10% of their membership. Seems like they could use a Jenny Jones Social Media makeover from someone like Kevin O’Keefe instead of concentrating on what Rick Hellers called “… The overall trend towards commercialization…” while simultaneously alienating some of their greatest friends in the extensive legal social media space.

Like me. Because right now instead of going to ILTACON18 I’ll be going to a Maryland CRAB Fest. The Conference Really Against Bloggers.  Oh and here’s a news flash. Those publications and news outlets.  They’re dying on the vine and being replaced by, you guessed it, bloggers.

Remembering Ross Kodner

August 6, 2018

Ross Kodner RIP

Every year as the annual ILTA Conference comes around I think about friends I won’t get to see there anymore.  Jim Keane, Richard Robbins, Ross Kodner and of course Browning Marean.

I’ll say more about Browning and the others next week but today I want to say a few words about Ross.  It was late July of 2013 when he left us and he was only 52.  He crammed a lot of life into those 52 years but it was still way too early to leave.  And he had a lot more to say, of that you can be sure.

I loved his comments on technology.  Some were spot on, like the myth of the paperless office.  Some were outrageous, like calling the Outlook system Microsoft Lookout.  As Browning once observed of some one else, he was “often wrong, but never uncertain.” And we loved him for it.

Because he was so full of life and energy and enthusiasm and he really loved technology.  Plus he got us all those cool gifts from vendors every year at The Dinner.  And when we turned around and honored him at the end of one Dinner with The Minuteman Award, he laughed along with all of his at the joke.

That’s still one of my favorite memories of Ross.  Along with the picture from the St, Patrick’s Day in Chicago we made him an honorary Irishman. I’m not sure what the coat had to do with it … Gayle would know.

But one year at an ABA Annual conference,  he moderated a panel discussion on legal technology with 5 or 6 speakers.  And by Moderate I really mean Speak. Ross was using a portable microphone which he passed to panelists when he asked a question. Andy, Jim, Natalie … all the usual suspects and I was sitting at the far end next to Reid Trautz.   I told Reid when we started that I doubted I would ever SEE the mic, never mind hold it.

But halfway thru Ross got a little sore throat and to kill time he asked me a question and passed the mic down the line while he looked for a glass of water.  Naturally I did what any good speaker would do in that situation. I kept the mic.

Several minutes later Reid is passing me one of Ross’s business cards on which Ross had furiously scribbled ONE MINUTE!!!!!! I smiled, looked up and said “only one minute to go? OK, I’ll be brief’.”

I saved that card and I had it framed with a big picture of Ross, an American flag and an eagle worthy of Steven Colbert at his grandest.  Six  months later at an ABA TechShow, I presented it to Ross at the end of that years Dinner and had the crowd in tears as I recounted the story and several others of similar circumstance.  I ended by telling Ross that his wife wholeheartedly agreed with the award for reasons she would not specify.

Well he was a good sport about the whole thing. One of his great qualities was being able to take as good as good as he got.  Although I never did get asked back to speak on that panel. Hmmmm.

Miss ya buddy.



Craig Ball & Gayle O’Connor Talk About the Sedona Conference Primer on Social Media

July 18, 2018

That’s right. Fresh off her ACEDS blog post about the newly released Sedona Conference primer on social media, Gayle takes over the EDiscovery Channel hosting duties to talk with Craig Ball about that publication.

So read the blog. Watch the video. Then be sure to attend the Sedona Conference webinar on the primer hosted by Ken Withers, Deputy Executive Director of The Sedona Conference and featuring several members of the Working Group on Electronic Document Retention and Production who helped craft the primer.  These include Federal Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix of the District of Colorado,  Atty. Andrea D’Ambra, head of ED and IG at Norton Rose, Julie Lewis CEO and Founder of Digital Mountain and Phil Favro of Driven Inc.  The webinar is on Aug 8 and a registration link can be found here on the Sedona site.

And if, after all that, you still haven’t heard enough on the subject, you can find Gayle along with ACEDS Executive Director Mary Mack and Director of Strategic Partnerships Kaylee Walstad at ILTACON18 from Aug.19-23 in National Harbor, MD. (they say it’s in DC, but it’s not. It’s in Maryland. Across the river from Alexandria. Which has the closest METRO stop) . Stop by the ACEDS booth,  # 130, or better yet, sign up for their evening river cruise on Wednesday night! They’d love to talk with you about all the exciting things going on at ACEDS.

Craig Ball may be there, I can’t really say since he IS the EDiscovery International Man of Mystery and his schedule is a closely guarded secret. But I’ll be there, so feel free to track me down and we can chat.