by Cary Calderone, Esquire
Electronic discovery, electronic document and email management, strategies and technology are all hot topics of discussion at Legal Tech West Coast 2008 in Los Angeles. More reports will be posted but for starters, it was most enjoyable to hear the keynote delivered by Charles A. James, Vice President and General Counsel, Chevron Corporation. He openly described the trials and tribulations his department experienced while successfully growing Chevron's award-winning legal technology systems. He humbly noted that he had been overly seduced by the idea of automation while under-estimating the value of change management to lead to successful implementations. He even described that now they are reaping other rewards like being able to use data collected from their web, litigation management, and direct payment systems to streamline and focus their resources in cost-effective and efficient ways. If industry vendors listen to his advice and address his "Three Vendor Gripes" every worker in a corporate legal department around the country will be happier. Gripe number 1, ("G1"), is that vendors are overselling
the practical, compatible and functional capabilities of their products. This can lead to delusions of "automated" systems that replace the people in the process but in reality, Mr. James teaches that people need to work with the technology to have the best results. For G2 Mr. James paraphrased Rodney King's famous plea, "Can't we all just get along." Phrases like "complete solution,""enterprise" and "seamlessly" should be banned from all sales literature until the multitudes of products that are advertised as "open" and touted as part of "inter-operable solutions" do, in fact, work together in more than a limited and concocted fashion. My personal experience in the world of "enterprise solutions" had me nodding my head in agreement with Mr. James, along with many other members of the audience. For G3 a challenge was proposed that there would no longer be a need for e-discovery for lawsuits, Attorney General actions and other legal and criminal inquiries because compliance rules would be logical and specific, and technology would serve to illuminate electronic data to the point where people in corporations would simply do their jobs while staying fully compliant. In other words, there would be no need for e-discovery if technology worked pro-actively with automatic audits and controls for content and process. One of my favorite sayings is appropriate here: if you are going to dream, dream big. I hope your wish is granted soon Mr. James.