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Idealistic musings about eDiscovery
With all the views the eDiscovery acceptance poll in my last post has received, only eight votes (and one comment) have been counted. Since people can vote multiple times, I suspect only two or three people have offered their opinions. (I don’t expect a statistically-valid data set, but c’mon …)
I’m posting this one more time; please share your thoughts. Meanwhile, I’ve got an essay in the works regarding Ralph Losey’s magnum opus regarding Predictive Coding 3.0. (I’m reading all 15,000 words so you don’t have to!)
We lost Jack Halprin yesterday. Greg Buckles has a great tribute to Jack on his site, but I want to add a couple of words of my own.
When I applied to join Autonomy in 2010, the company was not looking for an eDiscovery expert. Because I presented myself as one, however, the Powers That Were asked their VP of eDiscovery and Compliance – a well-established eDiscovery expert – to evaluate my candidacy. Yep, it was Jack.
Knowing I was from Houston, Jack called his friend Greg to check me out. Fortunately, Greg and I had met socially a few times and the feedback was positive. So positive, in fact, that I was able to collaborate on a couple of projects with Jack before he left for his dream job at Google. I was never privileged to meet Jack in person, but we spent plenty of time on the phone with each other.
Jack died of cancer Thursday morning. He was 46. As Greg wrote:
Those of you who have been following this dormant blog know that I had been instructed by the Powers That Be at my company to stop blogging if I wanted a chance at promotion. I noted that, the opportunity for promotion having fallen through, I would resume blogging unless my employers directed me otherwise.
Then I fell silent for nearly two years. You can guess what happened.
Well, now my company has decided to eliminate my position, not only releasing me back into the wild to seek new challenges, but also releasing me to begin blogging again! (By the way, if you’re aware of anyone who can benefit from an eDiscovery attorney, consultant, trainer and subject matter expert, please drop me a line.)
So, brace yourselves … because now I’ve got some things to say, and a lot of time available to say it.
Yes, I’m still alive, thanks for asking. So, where’ve I been?
Some nine months ago, in December 2011, I wanted to impress the higher-ups at my company with hopes that it would lead to a promotion. I found myself having a casual cocktail with the person in charge of the promotion. The conversation was going fine until I mentioned that (gasp!) I had a blawg.
My benefactor’s response was immediate. “Don’t have a blawg!”
Yes, this contains my own opinions and I’m not going to write anything against the interests of my employer, but at the same time, our marketing folks didn’t get to vet my words here, so the use of a blawg was Very Highly Discouraged. Being a good soldier (and really wanting the dang promotion), I thought it best to comply with this person’s wishes. Hence, the radio silence you’ve (not) been hearing since last December.
Well, in the past nine months, guess how much progress I’ve made with the decision-maker. Yep, none. So, the heck with it; this blawg is back online. I promise to neither shill for my employer’s products or technology, nor say anything that might reflect negatively upon them.
With that pledge, unless I am explicitly told that this blawg threatens my continued employment (which will raise an entirely different issue), we’re back. Whether that’s a good thing or not … hey, you be the judge. This really is here for your use, after all.
I’ve been so busy lately that there has simply been no time to do a substantive blog post. Right now, my creative attention is focused on a full-length article for magazine publication, on ethical issues relating to eDiscovery. My target word count is 2,500. So far, I’m up to 4,000. (Needless to say, this is still in the first-draft phase.)
I hope to get something useful (maybe even a teaser section of my article) up here within the week.
Meanwhile, I can use your sympathy. After all, it ain’t easy being a Houston sports fan. We have the Texans (ugh), the Astros (double ugh), and the Rockets (who may not have an NBA season at all this year). And to top it all off, the Aggies are moving to a separate football conference from my dear ol’ Longhorns next season. Now who am I going to make fun of every Thanksgiving?
On September 11, 2001, I was in San Diego. My wife was in Denver. My mother was in Washington, DC, across the Potomac from the Pentagon. My father was in midtown Manhattan.
At the end of the day, all four of us were safe, and we all (eventually) made it home safely, and that’s more than the families of 2,977 other people were able to say on that day.
My wife and I visited Manhattan in October 2001, and the most heartbreaking memory I carry is seeing the inside of Grand Central Terminal and its shopping arcades, filled with makeshift kiosks bearing photos and “Have You Seen This Person” handbills.
But I also remember the resolve on the faces of New Yorkers, particularly the police and firefighters who were guarding “the pile” at Ground Zero. It’s hard to remember, in today’s climate of partisan bickering, how united we all were back then. We were all Americans, and that was enough.
Today is significant, not because we reconnect with one tragedy, but because we reconnect with nearly three thousand of them. Perhaps someday, we will be able to reconnect with our sense of unity, too.
An old joke has a farmer entering his plow mule in the Kentucky Derby. A city slicker at the track asked the farmer why he would enter the mule in a thoroughbred race that he could not hope to win. “Well,” said the farmer, “I reckon the association might do that ol’ mule a lot of good!”
My first professional love is evangelizing about eDiscovery to whomever in the legal profession (and anyone else unfortunate to cross my path during a good rant) will listen. However, I currently earn most of my paycheck (which I also love, in case any of my bosses are reading this) training legal professionals in the eDiscovery software suite offered by Autonomy (soon to be a subsidiary of ConHugeCo). And, as part of those duties, I now get to preach the Autonomy eDiscovery (and information governance) gospel to our new hires.
Last week was a bit different. Our “new hires” included a huge team that recently joined us from Iron Mountain Digital/Mimosa/Stratify, during which we acquired an all-star lineup of eDiscovery and information governance subject matter experts:
Uh huh … and I’m supposed to train them.
I’m just a litigator who’s been splashing around in the deep end of the eDiscovery pool for several years. These folks are heavy hitters! Well, I learned at least as much from them last week as they did from me, and dare I say … the association done me good! It was a privilege to meet and talk with each of you, and I’m glad to have you folks aboard!
(By the way, David Bayer helped me to clarify my thinking on a blog post I’ve been editing for much of the past week. Allow me to thank him in advance for his contributions; I hope to have this next post up in the next few days.)
It’s time that I utilized some of the technology that I earn my living evangelizing about. So, welcome to my new eDiscovery blog.
There are dozens of legal blawgs and newsfeeds pertaining to electronic discovery issues. Most contain lots of posts that may not be useful, on a daily basis, to counsel and support staff. I believe that your main questions ought to be “What do I need to know?” and “How does this affect me?” With this blawg, I hope to answer those two questions.
The title “Part of the Solution” alludes to my own saying: “No one ever went to law school saying, ‘I want to be part of the problem.’” And yet … so many newly-minted lawyers have had their idealism squeezed out of them, if not by the legal education process itself, then by the harsh demands of survival in the legal industry.
I happen to believe there’s still room for healthy idealism in the legal profession; indeed, I don’t think our system can endure without it. Nowhere is this more true than in adapting to the constant evolution of litigation practice demanded by the evolving world of eDiscovery. Those lawyers who will not evolve, out of fear that any glimmer of cooperation will end up being exploited against them by opposing counsel, must ultimately be left behind. Those who will survive and thrive – those who will realize that there is no valid alternative in modern litigation practice than to embrace the notion of cooperation – share my idealism.
This is my soapbox. I’m aware that every word I type in here will likely follow me around for the rest of my career; so rest assured, if you see it here, that’s because I truly believe in what I’ve written. If you believe in it too, then please stick around. I think you’ll like what you see.