April 1, 2013

What Happens At "The Exchange" Gets Even Better

by Cary Calderone © 2013

Last year I wrote a very favorable review of the General Counsel Institute's program, "The Exchange."  (link here)  In brief, I thought the round-table format provided a fun way to hear about E-Discovery law updates and learn great real-world lessons shared by the participants.  And yet, I have to be honest, the morning of the 2013 event, I was not enthusiastic about attending.  Over the past year, there were no significant developments in E-Discovery law or technology, and I tend to spend too much time at conferences listening to rather boring material.  Whatever my initial hesitations were, within the first hour of listening to Browning Marean III (bio) and the group discussion, I was very happy I attended.  Here's why.

Even without new seminal E-Discovery cases, statutes, or technological advances (TAR and CAR are no longer "new"), there were still many good takeaway items as E-Discovery continues to evolve and mature   For example:

  • There is pent up demand for e-discovery solutions for small to middle-sized businesses (SMBs).  The expensive tools and review processes simply are not cost effective to employ, and manual e-discovery is a lousy alternative.  
  • The only negative lesson, first described by Browning and echoed by all, E-Discovery education is lagging.  There are still too many stories of lawyers printing out thousands of pages of emails, instead of using electronic tools to search, cull, and produce them.
  • Given the new ABA and state rules, we should not have lawyers standing in a courtroom saying "I am no good at this computer stuff."
  • Steve Brower (bio) commented that "fewer people today know about computers."  Specifically, he was referring to the fact that now much of what happens is behind the user-friendly interface.  People do not know about directory structures and running programs and searches from a command line.  Ultimately, the ease-of-use features increase computer productivity but make understanding E-Discovery, more difficult. 
  • The European Union is in the process of updating  their Data Protection Act.  Some changes will be good, others will be challenging for US companies.
  • BYOD-why many are dead set against it!  
  • Robert Brownstone (bio) led the discussion about Information Management and how it relates to and improves E-Discovery.  
  • We need to get rid of the "ROT."  That is information that is "Redundant, Outdated, or, Trivial."

Kimbir Tate (Moderator) gave my favorite tip for this conference.  She said "you have to have a lawyer (a litigator) sitting at all the tables."  They have to establish relationships with all the department groups so they will know what is coming.  If a new cloud solution is being considered, the litigator will be able to research, and understand the available options and implications, for eventual E-Discovery.  N.B. Kimbir meant a technology-savvy litigator who understands E-Discovery, and not one of those who would just print out the emails...    

Browning Marean III
Even Browning Marean, who I am going to nickname the Anderson Cooper of E-Discovery, learned about a couple of technology tools to handle specific data issues.  If he can learn something new at a conference, then most certainly, you can too.

Mr. Marean is a large part of the reason this event has been successful.  His many years of experience and his commitment to E-Discovery educational programs has given him an unparalleled depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.  Moreover, he has the ability to move about and really engage an audience (I picked Anderson Cooper, but any of your favorite talk show hosts would be a fine comparison) and this is why the event stays fun and entertaining.   Watching him work the room, I could not help but think about Anderson Cooper and his recent attention for scuba diving in underwater caves with crocodiles.  Big deal.  The crocodiles were resting.  Compare that to Mr. Marean crisscrossing a room with 140 attorneys while holding an open microphone.  Now THAT'S dangerous!  Not only did Browning avoid injury, but at least once every 30-45 minutes, the entire audience had a LOL experience.

Kudos also go to co-chairs, Robert Brownstone and David Kessler (bio) for their efforts.  There were great points made by so many of the invited speakers and participants it would be impossible to list them all.  There are more than 12 pages of notes that were distributed to everyone, after the conference.

In conclusion, in spite of my initial hesitation, I was very happy I attended and, I look forward to attending again.  If you are considering learning more about E-Discovery (and you should be!) I recommend you put one of these programs on your schedule.

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