THE BEST PRESENTATION AT RELATIVITY FEST THAT NOBODY HEARD  

November 1, 2017

 

Software giant Relativity held their annual user conference this week in Chicago at The Hilton Chicago.  A total of 1,934 attendees at Relativity Fest ’17 broke down into 148 attorneys, 1,003 litigation support staff, 232 IT & security people, 224 executives, 135 sales and marketing staff, 80 paralegals, 58 developers, 31 academics and 19 members of the press.

A legal track of 11 sessions was organized by David Horrigan, ‎E-Discovery Counsel and Legal Content Director at Relativity and those sessions ranged from a judicial panel to discussions of the Internet of Things and Social Media.  They were all well attended save one.

On Monday afternoon, David moderated a panel called The Future of Pro Bono and Public Service for the Legal Community. The speakers were Monica Bay, a fellow at CodeX: THe Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and James Sandman, the Director of the Legal Services Corporation.  Mr. Sandman gave the best speech on the current state of our profession that I have ever heard.

Mr. Sandman is not a LSC veteran. He has been with them since 2011 and before that practiced law with Arnold & Porter LLP for 30 years, serving as the firm’s managing partner for a decade. He was named one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times in 2008 and The University of Pennsylvania Law School has honored him with its Alumni Award of Merit and its Howard Lesnick Pro Bono Award.   He understands the law and lawyers.

He began his talk by discussing what he called “.. the invisible issue in American society”, the underrepresentation of people in civil litigation.  Consider, he said that 15% of Americans live below poverty level and are thus dependent on legal aid for their representation.  Yet 2/3 of all people appearing in a domestic case in the US have no attorney.  And in housing court cases, 90% of tenants appear with no attorney.

Why is this?  Certainly low funding and program concentration in urban areas are issues , but Mr. Sandman set out what he said were ten key barriers to adoption of more pro bono and public service opportunities. They are:

  1. Lawyers administer the system: a self-governing system is rarely innovative
  2. 50 different state authorities decentralizes any attempt to standardize
  3. Insufficient capital, both public and private
  4. Continued reliance on the billable hour
  5. Law firm partnership structure based on billing hours
  6. Malpractice insurance carrier hesitations about nontraditional activity
  7. A legal system based on precedent not forward-looking decision making
  8. A legal education based on outmoded training concepts
  9. A system based on lawyers doing case by case evaluations
  10. The fact that lawyers are predominantly risk averse

Now Mr. Sandman felt that these barriers were not insurmountable and stated that efforts by agents of change such as court administrators and client groups could have enormous influence. And academia could help, he said, by training lawyers to think like clients and not medieval lawyers.

Unfortunately, his message was not heard by most of the 2000 attendees. Unlike other sessions which had overflowing rooms, this session drew 10 attendees. Which, as I noted in a tweet from the session, said everything about the main reason we have an access to justice issue.  It’s not technology, it’s indifference.

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Should Litigators Think Like Investigators When Using Technology?

September 29, 2017

Tom O’Connor chats with Jo Sherman, Founder and CEO of legal software company EDT, about the best strategies for attorneys using technology. Listen to the entire conversation on the EDiscovery Channel, now available at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEObFWedKXU&t=885s


Join Tom O and CloudNine for A Webinar On ED Workflow After the Case Is Filed

September 21, 2017

Holy ****, The Case is Filed!  What Do I Do Now?

Next Wednesday I’ll join Doug Austin of CloudNine for a free webinar to discuss how to handle, as Doug put it,  “… the various issues to consider and decisions to be made to help you meet your discovery obligations in an efficient and proportional manner.”

Check in here for all the details: https://www.ediscovery.co/webcasts manner/the-case-is-filed-what-do-i-do-now/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ediscoverydaily 

 


If You’ve Been Affected by the Recent Storms, CloudNine Wants to Help

September 12, 2017

My friends at CloudNine in Houston have an offer to help anyone in a hurricane affected area get back on their feet with their data needs. Here is their announcement: 

Mother Nature has dealt this part of the world a tough couple of weeks.  First, Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast, causing major damage and flooding in Houston and other areas.  Then, this past weekend, Hurricane Irma has caused major damage in the Caribbean and in Florida and is continuing to wreak havoc to other parts of the country as we speak.

In Houston, our CloudNine family was very fortunate and blessed.  None of our team members experienced any significant damage from Hurricane Harvey.  Our platform continued to be available to our clients throughout the storm and its aftermath and our office remained up and running; though, because there was so much flooding throughout the city and driving was discouraged, most of our team members worked remotely throughout that week.  Despite that, we were business as usual, providing software and services to our clients.

However, most (if not all) of our team members have family members or close friends who were affected – either by suffering damage in their homes and businesses or being evacuated (or both).  Many of us at CloudNine, like many others in the Houston area and elsewhere, have helped to pitch in and help our neighbors recover.

As Craig Ball noted in his recent blog post regarding the disaster in Houston, the loss of property for law firms and other organizations extends to digital devices and media and potential loss of data on that media.  When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans years ago, Tom O’Connor coordinated an effort to help firms in that area and others (such as Craig and Rob Robinson) assisted in that effort.  Both Tom and Craig have discussed plans to undertake a similar effort to help those affected this time and I will certainly be happy to help in any way I can, including to help get the word out as more information is known about that effort.

Recovering the data is one challenge (and several organizations are offering to help there), recovering an organization’s IT infrastructure is another.  Many firms will have to replace workstations, servers and networks.  Doing so won’t be cheap and may not happen overnight.  With that in mind, CloudNine is offering to host data for firms and organizations affected by the recent hurricanes for FREE for up to six months to enable those firms and organizations to be able to access that data while they rebuild.  If your organization has been affected by these storms and you need the ability to access your data for a period of time while you rebuild, or to save costs in hosting for a case so that you can apply those savings to rebuilding your infrastructure, CloudNine can help.

To learn more, please contact us at salessupport@ediscovery.co and mention the FREE six month hosting offer.

And, if you’re interested in helping those affected by the hurricanes, here are a couple of resources to do that:

  • Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt has established the Houston Flood Relief Fund for victims of Hurricane Harvey, which is (as of Monday morning) up over $31 million in donations. To donate, click here.
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has also established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, which accepts donations for flood relief victims. The organization will accept checks, money orders, bank wire transfers, stock, corporate bonds and other marketable securities. For donation instructions, click here.
  • GlobalGiving’s Irma Relief Fund is accepting donations here. It vets the local organizations it helps fund and, according to The New York Times, is well-regarded by charity watchdogs.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the recent storms.


What Exactly Is Case Management Software? Come to Our Webinar and We’ll Discuss It

September 6, 2017

At CaseManagerPro’s recent appearance at ILTACON17, we were all quite surprised to hear how much misunderstanding there was about case management. The confusion with document management, evidence management, time management and cost management was widespread across all firm sizes and types.

We had a great conversation with Ari Kaplan about why this is and you can watch a video of that disucssion by clicking here.

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Now that ILTACON is over, we decided to take the opportunity to continue that disucssion and discuss the components of what comprises a robust case management system.  The true efficiencies of case management can only be achieved when all of those pieces work together, regardless of firm size or case complexity.

Join Chuck Cole, Director of Client Engagement as he talks with me on Oct 4th about how case management should work if properly designed. We’ll even give you some secrets to implementing a good CMS system for maximum efficiency and profitability. This is a great discussion for anyone who might be looking to increase their knowledge on just what a case management system can do.  Once we define it that is!

Click here to register.


What Were People Talking About At ILTACON17?

August 31, 2017

I spent several days at ILTACON17 in the CaseManagerPro booth talking with attendees and videotaping a number of those discussions.  At the links below you can listen to technology luminaries such as Craig Ball, Ari Kaplan, Toby Brown of Perkins Coie, David Clark of Kirton McKonkie, Duane Lites of Jackson Walker, discuss the state of legal technology, case management, security and a host of other topics.

Simply click here to view the list of all the videos, listen and enjoy!

 

 


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.