LegalTech 2010 (February 1-3) was a great show!

Posted on February 3, 2010

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LegalTech 2010 (February 1-3) was a great show! Attendance was definitely up, we were told 30% by some people. eDiscovery is hot. Especially, “bringing eDiscovery in-house” was a theme that resonated very well. Interestingly enough, last year, ZyLAB was one of the few companies to organize an education track around this theme. Now, almost all educational tracks and many keynotes were about “bringing eDiscovery in-house”.

This year, on Tuesday, ZyLAB organized 3 educational sessions at the LegalTech 2010 in New York about the implications of bringing eDiscovery in-house. The sessions were all about 1 hour and 15 minutes long, although the Hilton did ask us to terminate the last sessions 30 minutes in advance because another event took place in the beautiful Trianon Ballroom at the Hilton New York.  

The panel consisted of a great team: 

  • George J. Socha, Jr., Esq. Socha Consulting LLC (who did as always a GREAT job moderating the sessions)
  • James F. Dawson, CSSLP, Manager Forensic, Technology Services, KPMG LLP (LIST) and former director of litigation support form MetLife.
  • Stuart W. Hubbard, Firm wide Lit. Supt. and E-Discovery Manager, Schiff Hardin LLP
  • Seth D. Rothman, Attorney, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
  • Paul Weiner, National E-Discovery Counsel, Littler
  • Johannes Scholtes, Chief Strategy Officer, ZyLAB

In three-part 75 minute sessions, we explored how corporations and government agencies can become better-prepared for the rigors of eDiscovery:

  • The Risks and Rewards of Bringing eDiscovery In-House
  • The Role of Microsoft SharePoint® and Text-Mining in Early Case Assessment and Legal Holds
  • How In-House Legal Departments Can Operate Most Effectively with Outside Counsel.

Our principle goal was not to bring up more problems, but to work on practical tips, advice and solutions for the problems that companies and government agencies are suffering from.

Come Visit us at the LegalTech 2010

 Overall, the sessions were well attended, we had about 100 people in the first session, the second about 50 and the third (which was really late), had about 35. Personally, I was expecting more attendance for the last session, especially because so many people have to deal with the issue of “working together with external counsel” when (parts of) the eDiscovery process are brought in-house.  The attendees were well balanced between corporate counsel, law firms, industry analysts, IT and also a number of compliance and records managers.

Here are some of the main take away’s from the sessions:

Related to the (EDRM) eDiscovery Process:

  • The legal review process is 60 to 80% of your cost factor. Measuring the effectiveness of law firms in eDiscovery can be done by measuring how they can limit the number of documents in a legal review by doing more accurate collections and by faster and more efficient legal reviews.
  • Companies and government agencies need to start working on a data map or filing plan in order to find out what data they have and where the most legally risky data resides so they can actually prepare for litigation. This is what the top law firms, but also leading industry analysts recommend their clients. So here is the big question: why is nobody doing this and why is almost everybody waiting to act until litigation hits them?
  • More and more leading law firms use text-analytics and other text classification tools to organize documents before they are reviewed. By doing so, privileged, confidential and responsive documents can be reviewed faster than by reviewing them in the more traditional linear review. Seth D. Rothman from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP explained the audience how his firm used this type of technology and finished a review much faster than another firm who reviewed a similar set of documents in the same case in the traditional manner.
  • If you do bring eDiscovery in-house, make sure to have a team in house that includes members from IT, legal, compliance, records management, and also HRM. Especially the last department is important because this is often the last point of contact and the last possibility to save data from relevant custodians when they leave the company.
  • It is very important to use transparent and well documented technology that has existing case law. This will help your external counsel to defend the in-house process in court. If you cannot explain and show what you did to your counsel, then be ready for opposing counsel to challenge what you did!

Information Management related remarks:

  • When litigation hits you, this is what leading law firms advise you to do: (1) Apply proper document management principles, (2) Standardize procedures to preserve and collect data, (3) have IT personal who know what to do, and (4) have procedures in place for allocating working between internal and external counsel.
  • There is a great need for legal hold, legal collection and early case assessment functionality in MS-SharePoint and for other collaboration tools. But since there are now more than 300 million MS-SharePoint users, this is a major pain point for corporate legal and IT departments. Software developers will have to put this on their roadmap, if they have not already done this.
  • Legal holds, legal collection and early case assessment from the Cloud are unchartered territory. Some of the problems can be covered with dedicated service level agreements with your ISP, but for the free internet social networks and free email services, it is less clear how to handle this. However, federation is technically definitely the way to go. Again, at next year’s LegalTech we expect more software vendors to have this in their portfolio.
  • There is an increasing need for federated records management and federated collection from the cloud and from the many different IT systems that often reside inside and outside an enterprise.
  • Text-analytics are the way to go for compliance and internal investigations related activities.

This was a great show and conference, we look forward participating again next year!

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