Category Archives: Law Firms

Four Tips for Managing Multiple Matters in the Age of the Pandemic

managing multiple matters

Four Tips for Managing Multiple Matters in the Age of the Pandemic
Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that we’re seeing more litigation as a result of the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis – in some cases, a lot more.  According to the law firm Fisher Phillips (reported here), of the 283 COVID-19 workplace suits filed in federal and state courts through June 30, 122 or 43% were filed in June, marking a 30% increase from the 94 cases filed in May and 103% from the 60 in April. Class action lawsuits are also rising, with 41 filed against employers since the pandemic began.  And, that’s just one area of litigation.

One notably growing web conference company has had no less than five class action suits filed against – all this year.  Even the New York Times is reporting expected growth in lawsuits.  Not to mention, growth in investments into lawsuits, but that’s a story for another day (actually that day was June 29 when I wrote about it then).  Anyway, it’s more likely than ever that your organization has multiple litigation matters to manage.  With that in mind, here are four tips for managing multiple matters during the pandemic:

Get Your IG House in Order: If you’ve been reading my Ipro column the past six weeks, I’ve discussed the needs, responsibilities and recommendations for each of the five stakeholder groups of the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM), so whether you’re Legal, Records and information management (RIM) , Information Technology (IT), Privacy & Security or Business stakeholders, you need to do what you can to help the organization address its information governance challenges.  That includes data mapping and addressing the 5 W’s” of organization data maps to understand where you’re data is located.

Employ Technology Earlier in the EDRM Life Cycle: Litigation is growing.  Budgets are not, as evidenced by the most recent eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey published by Rob Robinson’s Complex Discovery site, where Budget Constraints were voted on by nearly half of the respondents as the most impactful factor over the next six months (almost as much as the other five factors combined).

As a result, you need to leverage technology as much as possible to support the growing litigation burden within budgets that are manageable.  Once you have an up-to-date data map that gives you a sense of the amount of potentially discoverable data you have within your organization, consider “index-in-place” technologies that enable you to quickly identify potentially responsive data and collect that data for processing, review and (eventually) production and presentation.  Traditionally, data has moved to the technology, but it’s becoming more and more necessary for technology to move to the data – where it lives – to identify potentially responsive electronically stored information (ESI) earlier and only move that ESI forward.  The days of collecting the entire corpus for potentially responsive custodians is coming to an end.

Don’t Forget Non-Traditional Sources of Data: Do your workflows still focus primarily on email and Office files?  More business communications than ever are taking place via text and also messaging and collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams (here’s a link to our upcoming webinar where we’ll discuss those and how to address them).  Not only that, because of all of the additional remote meetings being conducted now, there are so many more audio and video files that are discoverable (here’s a post from Jim Gill on that topic and a link to a webinar and podcast where I’ve discussed it as well).  Failing to focus on these non-traditional sources of data can put you behind before the matter barely gets started and even more behind if you’re managing multiple matters.

Stop the Insanity: You know the famous phrase “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result”*?  Well, in document review, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and getting a different result.  By that I mean, reviewing the same documents in multiple matters, but not categorizing them consistently.  I’ve seen matters were counsel failed to mark documents as privileged that had been marked as privileged in other matters; hence, losing the privilege classification in the current matter (and maybe beyond). Taking a centralized approach to managing multiple matters, where an organization makes use of previous document classifications not only ensures consistency of document classification, but also saves outside counsel firm costs and having to review those documents again and again. The multiple matters your organization is facing may be in different jurisdictions managed by different local outside counsel firms that best know the local and state rules and judges’ tendencies – as a result, you want each local outside counsel firm that is familiar with the jurisdiction to be able to take advantage of document classifications previously recorded instead of “re-inventing the wheel”.  Getting more consistent document review at a lower overall cost?  That’s not insanity, that’s smart!

*By the way, the “Insanity” quote has been widely attributed over the years to Albert Einstein, but he apparently never actually said it.  So, you learned something else from this post!  That’s crazy!

For more educational topics from Doug Austin related to eDiscovery, cybersecurity and data privacy, follow, eDiscovery Today! And as part of the continued educational partnership between Ipro and eDiscovery Today, he’ll be here in the Ipro Newsroom next week with more educational content!

Case Law: eDiscovery Isn’t About DIY but Collaboration

eDiscovery Collaboration

Case Law: eDiscovery Isn’t About DIY but Collaboration

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

Do-It-Yourself eDiscovery?

Often we think the goal of technology is to allow us to do things ourselves which before required training or expertise. Digital photography is a great example. The photos and video most of us can take with our phones today require much less skill and a much lower cost to produce than when film was the only option. Not to say there isn’t a high level of expertise involved in creating the best digital photography, but technology does so much when it comes to leveling the playing field for the amateur.

This mindset, however, does not apply to eDiscovery, particularly when it comes to the self-collection of electronically stored information (ESI). It’s not that custodians can’t self-collect, because, like digital photography, technology allows pretty much anyone the ability to do so. It’s more a question of should you self-collect.

Florida Magistrate Judge William Matthewman’s ruling on E.E.O.C. v. M1 5100 Corp. earlier this year was a clear reminder that collection without the supervision of counsel is not acceptable. According to the summary of this age discrimination case by Doug Austin, editor-in-chief of eDiscovery today, “defense counsel allowed two employees of the client to identify and collect ESI” in response to requests for production “with no oversight from counsel at all,” even though they signed off on the RFP, which violated FRCP Rule 26(g).

“The Court is not impressed”

Citing previous case law [In re Abilify (N.D. Fla. Dec. 7, 2017)] which states “self-collection by a layperson of information on an electronic device is highly problematic and raises a real risk that data could be destroyed or corrupted,” Judge Matthewman wrote in his ruling:

“In the case at hand, it is very clear that Defendant’s employees self-collected ESI in order to respond to Plaintiff’s document requests without sufficient attorney knowledge, participation, and counsel…. And, the Court is not impressed by the repeated delays in production that have occurred in this case by Defendant.”

What comes next has become a long-standing trend in eDiscovery case law: the courts pushing for both parties working together in order to properly produce the requested ESI. Judge Matthewman writes, “The discovery process, particularly when ESI is involved, is intended to be collaborative,” but again warns that discovery must be supervised by counsel. He then concludes the ruling by noting the extraordinary times the COVID pandemic has put on everyone and gives the benefit of the doubt to the Defendant’s counsel that they didn’t act in bad faith, but states the “Court does not want to see these problems continue. The Court also directs Defendant’s counsel to impress upon Defendant that it must promptly respond to discovery or it will be subject to sanctions. The Court expects to see no more discovery delays.”

Technology Should Enable Collaboration

The first Federal Rule of Civil Procedure says the overall goal is a “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution to disputes. Too often, technology focuses on speed and cost-savings, which are important; however, in the end the most important is justice.

5 years ago now in the 2015 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stated:

“Lawyers—though representing adverse parties—have an affirmative duty to work together, and with the court, to achieve prompt and efficient resolutions of disputes…. They have an obligation to their clients, and to the justice system, to avoid antagonistic tactics, wasteful procedural maneuvers, and teetering brinksmanship.”

In light of these statements and the continued holding up of cooperation and collaboration by the courts, eDiscovery technology should be created with a focus on how it enables collaboration between all stakeholders. Between law firms and their clients. Between in-house counsel, outside counsel, and any 3rd party vendors that may have been employed. And, maybe most importantly, between opposing parties.

 

Check out these on-demand demonstrations for an in-depth look at how Ipro’s eDiscovery and Information Governance solutions enable collaboration!

“I’ve Downloaded the Recording, Now What?” 3 (More) Considerations Regarding Zoom and eDiscovery

zoom eDiscovery

“I’ve Downloaded the Recording, Now What?” 3 (More) Considerations Regarding Zoom and eDiscovery

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

There are a lot of people in the legal-tech community talking about the discoverability of Zoom data these days, particularly as the move to a remote workforce continues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As far as downloading recorded Zoom calls, it’s a pretty easy process. Really no different than exporting emails. And there haven’t really been any significant rulings (yet) regarding difficulties with Zoom data, so no need to worry right?

Maybe not in the immediate, but with the rise of video usage (not only with Zoom but with police body cam footage, as well as cell phone video) it will probably be sooner than later. The legal industry has a way of not adopting new workflows or technologies until they’re forced to, which can lead to extra costs and significant pressures on the legal team when litigation does arise, so being forward-thinking can pay off.

With this in mind, I spoke with Aaron Swenson, Ipro’s Head of Product Growth and Strategy, to discuss some more forward-leaning thoughts around video conference data and eDiscovery. Here are three considerations that continued coming up in our conversations.

Long Term Storage Costs:

It’s easy to take for granted the seemingly unlimited storage the cloud offers, particularly when using applications like Zoom. But audio files take up a fair amount of space. Video even more. And then when you throw in a transcript and chat data, it doesn’t take long to build up a significant amount of Electronically Stored Information (ESI).

For example, I looked at a recent Zoom recording I had exported to my laptop: It was just under an hour and came in around 100 GB. According to Zoom’s website, they charge $500 / month for 3 TB of storage and then about $10 for every 100 GB after that. So, if I recorded 30 hour-long calls in a month, that would be 500 dollars and an additional 10 dollars for every call after that. Now multiply that across the number of an organization’s employees using Zoom, and it’s not hard to see how it could quickly add up.

Establishing Retention Policies:

Data retention policies aren’t anything new, but the quick adoption of enterprise Zoom usage most likely means that many organizations haven’t considered how they manage and retain the data from video conferencing calls.

Different departments within a company or law firm may have different protocols when it comes to recording meetings: some may only record occasionally or for specific purposes; others may never record meetings; and others may always, regardless of the topic, record meetings. Then you add the issue of this data potentially being saved from the cloud onto individual machines (possibly multiple times for the same recording) and it’s clear why a Zoom-specific data management and retention policy is necessary.

eDiscovery Processing Capabilities:

Data is only as good as the information you can glean from it, particularly when it comes to data used as evidence for internal investigations and litigation. eDiscovery practitioners have known the importance of being able to extract metadata from documents, digital photos, and other ESI for decades now. Zoom recordings are no different. Which is why you want to make sure that your current eDiscovery solution can process those files into fully usable documents, should they need to be reviewed.

As part of an organization’s policies, they should always make sure their Zoom recordings include transcript creation, but it’s also important to have the ability to sync the video recording with the transcript within your eDiscovery workflow. There is so much information lost if attorneys are only able to review the text of a transcript. Having the video to accompany the text is vital for gaining insight from non-verbal cues (or Human Metadata, if you will) such as the speed of delivery, pauses, voice timbre and inflection, facial expressions, body language, and more.

Conclusion:

As with any new data source, considering its potential discoverability and how to defensibly preserve, collect, and review that data before litigation arises is always a good best practice.

Aaron Swenson sums this up nicely when he says, “Given the avalanche of recording, a proactive approach to Zoom data is necessary. Think about how you plan to deal with meeting recordings before a matter arises. Get a policy in place, consider storage costs, and a workflow that takes into account the time constraints of listening to hours of audio and video.”

There is no return to normal when it comes to video. Whether people continue to work remotely or go back to a brick and mortar office, video data will continue to grow in its use, which means it won’t be long before we see it become more prevalent in litigation.

 

Read more about how state jurisdictions and FRCP Rule 26
relate to Zoom and eDiscovery on the Ipro Blog!

The Growth of Automotive Data, the CCPA, and eDiscovery

automotive data eDiscovery CCPA

The Growth of Automotive Data, the CCPA, and eDiscovery

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

This week I saw a sticker in my vehicle that I hadn’t noticed before. It reads: “Vehicle Data Transmission is On! Your vehicle wirelessly transmits location, driving and vehicle health data to deliver your services and for internal research and data analysis.” It then gave a website and instructions to disable.

automotive data eDiscovery CCPA

Automotive Data and the CCPA

I’m not sure what most people’s reaction to seeing this might be, but as someone who’s been in the eDiscovery industry for a while now, my first thought was, “This must be how they’re dealing with compliance in regard to laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which is now being enforced as of 7/1/2020.

In fact, a recent article in Automotive News states that, “The auto industry will start to experience what the health care and finance sectors have been facing for decades — an ever-changing and more complex privacy landscape. Specifically, the CCPA creates consumer rights for Californians that enable access to, sharing or deletion of and the ability to opt out of the sale of personal information collected by a business.”

Automotive Data and eDiscovery

If you think about all the data now collected by automobiles these days, it of course raises the issue of that data being discoverable should litigation arise. In fact, back in 2017 with Barry v. Big M Transportation, sanctions for data spoliation were requested due to Big M Transportation’s failure to preserve a truck’s ECM data after an accident. While a default judgement under FRCP Rule 37(e) was denied, the court did rule as an alternative sanction that the jury would be told the “ECM data was not preserved and will allow the parties to present evidence and argument at trial regarding Big M’s failure to preserve the data.”

In more recent cases, automotive data has been used to determine the outcomes of lawsuits around self-driving cars (read my blog on 3 of those cases here), but when you consider the increase each year of everyday economy vehicles which collect data, combined with mobile devices which are connected to those vehicles, it’s easy to see how automobiles are a quickly growing source of potentially discoverable data.

Considerations for Dealing with the Growth of Automotive Data

For Automotive Companies:

Work with Legal, Privacy, and Compliance Departments to ensure policies are in place regarding the CCPA, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as keeping aware of other privacy laws which may be enacted (at least nine other states — including New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and New Jersey — also considering consumer privacy laws).

For Transportation Companies:

No different than more traditional electronic data sources of the past decades (e.g. disks, hard drives, laptops, and email) make sure that you have Legal Hold and Preservation policies in place regarding fleet vehicles and other automobiles used for business purposes, as well as technology which can help ensure these processes work effectively, to avoid sanctions and other penalties.

For Law Firms and Legal Service Providers (LSP):

Utilize the latest in eDiscovery technology to quickly and accurately collect and process automotive data (and metadata) into review platforms while keeping costs low.

 

Learn more about how Ipro’s Information Governance & eDiscovery Software!

Ipro for Enterprise from Ipro eDiscovery & InfoGov on Vimeo.

Law Firm Innovation: The Benefits of Adopting Smart Collections to Better Serve Clients

Law Firm Smart Collections

Law Firm Innovation: The Benefits of Adopting Smart Collections to Better Serve Clients
Written by Frederic Bourget, VP of Product, Ipro

How sticky is your firm with your clients? Among the law firms that I have spoken with, there’s a natural advantage in embracing new technologies to better serve them.

Some firms are just getting started with new technology, and that’s OK. The traditional eDiscovery model has been used in litigation for years. As a result, most law firms are still outsourcing data collection to specialized service providers.

Ten years ago, when most of the data was stored on physical servers and desktop computers, this approach made sense. It required a unique set of forensic skills to copy hard drives, move data, and ensure non-repudiation.

But things are changing.

The wheels of digital transformation have been set in motion in the last decade, and the pace of that transformation has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few reasons why law firms need to adopt Smart Collection tools to get ahead of the curve.

Law Firms Face the Same Pressures as their Clients

The amount of digital data is exploding, and along with that is a sharp increase in the number of digital collaboration apps. With information being spread across multiple cloud platforms, it’s harder to find responsive data.

Organizations face new compliance requirements for privacy (GDPR, CCPA, and others) so things are getting even trickier. With multiple copies of potentially sensitive and unresponsive data circulating – and new security threats all the time – the risks of exposing personal information are increasing.

This is compounded by the fact that even with these new compliance responsibilities, organizations must meet the same stringent response times. The result? You guessed it — more security breaches.

The #WFH Factor

Enters a new wild card in the age of coronavirus: digital workers worldwide working from home. Most law firms and their clients had only a few weeks to complete their digital transformations which included putting in place new collaboration tools, video conferencing and document workflows on the fly.

A few related considerations:

  • The digital records produced by these new platforms also need to be collected.
  • Some remote employees are working on networks that are less than secure.
  • Pandemic-related economic pressures will increase the need for cost reductions.

Every major disruption in the market also brings significant opportunity to reposition and get ahead of the game. Deploying Ipro + NetGovern Smart Collection capabilities is a chance for law firms to achieve this. With this tool, they wouldn’t need to outsource the collection process to external parties and would be able to better serve clients in a world that is quickly becoming entirely digital.

A Few Words on the Benefits of Innovative eDiscovery Technology

Because data is now mostly stored on remote servers – otherwise known as the cloud – being able to connect to these locations remotely to search, find, review, and collect data in a unified legal-friendly way can make a big difference. Smart Collection tools give legal teams a secure, direct, and centralized view into their clients’ data no matter where it is located.

This means that the team who understands the issues can investigate the data directly prior to collecting it.

Then, they can collect only what is needed, minimizing the amount of data involved, and taking the opportunity to filter out sensitive content. As the investigation progresses, the team can go back for more data — if needed — at a very low cost.

The results of this new approach are dramatically different from the EDRM’s.

Protecting Revenue

Not having to involve external parties for collection will lead to improved revenue and profit. The ROI is very simple: subscribe to the right tools and you can keep the collection revenue stream in-house. This also provides much better control over the process, with the additional benefit of controlling where the money flows within the overall case.

But protecting revenue isn’t even the best way law firms can benefit from using the Smart Collection methodology. Security, also being a primo concern, is another area where Smart Collection can make firms excel.

Improving Cybersecurity

As law firms’ internal teams are empowered to perform the collection phase of eDiscovery, no data circulates externally. This significantly reduces the risk of hacks or leaks for both the firms and their clients. With the scope of privacy laws looming ever larger, this protection comes as a relief.

Minimizing the Time It Takes to Perform eDiscovery

With live investigations, law firms can figure out what relevant case matter they have in a few hours instead of weeks. They can pull key documents that are central to the defense strategy of the case in question. Being quick to find the “smoking gun” puts firms at an advantage. Clients are happy because they can get feedback quickly.

As a result, they engage the law firm regularly and for smaller matters, not just when things get hairy. With this demand for regular and ongoing advice on disputes, billable hours go up, and it occurs at a pace that is manageable for the client.

So How Sticky Is Your Law Firm With Your Clients?

That brings us to our final point. Stickiness is everything. Do your clients outsource legal matters to multiple firms? They shouldn’t have to. Smart Collection allows you to start delivering services that are more closely connected to their business.

You can step in with precise inquiries related to missing documentation, version control, metadata review, and the like. You integrate into their team and their workflows. You can bill on an ongoing basis for this kind of managed service. The business advantage of a recurring revenue model is significant, and it helps you stabilize in the face of workload variation, which is amped up for most companies at this time.

Post-crisis, there will not be any less work for law firms. In the “new normal,” we will see an increase in employee employers, financial, and other contractual matters. The once complex process to collect data will give way to dynamic data interactions by legal staff that are familiar with the matter. This will enable new business models and propel certain firms ahead of others with better service and responsiveness, not to mention higher revenues and margins.

Simply put, Smart Collection equips you to handle changes that are already underway, meeting new and old demands in style, and coming up aces in terms of client trust.

 

Register for these on demand demonstrations for an in-depth look at Ipro’s eDiscovery and Information Governance solutions (including Smart Collections)!

Why Do Attorneys Feel Mired in “Low-Value Work?”

attorneys low value work

Why Do Attorneys Feel Mired in “Low-Value Work?

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

In a recent Artificial Lawyer article, they featured a survey which found that 67% of in-house attorneys at fast-growth companies felt buried in low-value work. Meanwhile, in another survey of 1,058 senior legal practitioners worldwide (conducted by EY) a third of firms with more than 1,000 employees spend nearly one out of every three hours on ‘low‑value’ tasks.

So what is at the root of being stuck in low-value work?

The surveys point to the familiar bane of legal departments everywhere: manual processes. One might think in this age of being able to manage most of one’s life from a mobile phone, the legal world would have the same things in place, but this just isn’t the case for many law firms and legal departments. eDiscovery managers might be able to see their Amazon packages arrive on their doorstep and literally say, “Thank you,” via a smart doorbell, but at their jobs still face processes and even technology from the previous decade.

A second cause noted is having to use multiple systems. Many legal teams may feel they have their challenges under control, but it may also involve a cobbled-together Frankenstein’s monster of software, services, and manual processes. This isn’t inherently bad if integrations and communications are functioning at peak efficiency. I remember one veteran eDiscovery practitioner comparing this idea to the way audiophiles might compile a stereo system: you want the best of all the components regardless of brand; all-in-one systems are for people who want convenience over quality.

But this can lead to another dilemma when it comes to “low value tasks,” which we highlighted in this week’s eDiscovery Blues: technology training. Sure, your system might work, but it requires an expert to make sure everything stays functioning (just hope that person never wants to take a vacation). That’s why ease-of-use continues to rise to the top on attorneys’ lists.

In the same survey, it noted that when it comes to legal tech, here’s what GCs want:

  • Easy adoption – 80%
  • Integrations – 57%
  • Data Insight – 43%

They want to leverage technology in order to help them do their jobs, but they don’t want the bulk of their time spent learning the technology. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending more time trying to work less. If technology is too much of a hassle, then the tried-and-true manual processes become more attractive.

For insights into how technologists are working to solve some of these problems, I went to Aaron Swenson, Product Director at Ipro. He raised a few things legal teams should consider in order to avoid being mired down by menial tasks.

  • “They should be asking how to supercharge their teams with technology in ways that are integral to the legal process, while moving them away from having to manage operations (i.e. the ROI spent working toward business objectives vs. on business operations).
  • “They’ll also want to look for technology which makes both internal and external stakeholders/customers happier.”
  • “A goal of ours at Ipro is working toward the idea of zero training time (or at least minimal training time). The technology should be intuitive enough that an experienced practitioner can log in and within a few minutes be doing their work instead of spending it learning software.”
  • “Finally, I think it’s important that legal teams consider how data sizes are growing faster than processing technologies, which means your traditional culling workflow will eventually have to change out of necessity.”

To that last point, the need for technology in the legal world is beyond necessary. It’s time to take the next step toward solutions that work as a single source of the truth when it comes to data, connect all stakeholders both inside and outside the organization, while taking the focus off of time spent learning technology.

All of which allows attorneys to get back to the primary objective of their jobs: practicing law.

 

Register for this two-day virtual event for a chance to take a look at Ipro’s eDiscovery and Information Governance solutions with live Q&A sessions!

virtual road show

 

 

 

Robots Are Your Friends: The Need for Artificial Intelligence in eDiscovery

artificial intelligence eDiscovery

Robots Are Your Friends: The Need for Artificial Intelligence in eDiscovery

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

I saw this headline on another legal blog a few days ago: AI may be your new Co-Worker! Which of course led to this week’s eDiscovery Blues™ cartoon. For years now, people have been talking about the Rise of the Robot Lawyers in the legal tech industry, but so far, Skynet still hasn’t happened.

In fact, a 2020 survey by Deloitte found that of 1300 CIOs who participated, 60% said Artificial Intelligence (AI) “would assist rather than replace workers.” And there’s no doubt we can use the help.

With the continued growth of data, human efforts alone won’t be enough to manage all of the information created by individuals, businesses, and government agencies. Doug Austin at eDiscoveryToday just published a great piece on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its effect on eDiscovery.

He states that we can expect “463 exabytes (over 463 million terabytes!) of data to be created each day globally by 2025. Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a big part of that reason for the mushrooming growth of personal data.  It’s a big mess. Now, with data privacy laws strengthening, since AI helped get us into this mess, can it help get us out?”

In eDiscovery we’re already well aware of the various types of machine learning – clustering and predictive coding are the most prevalent – which legal teams can use to cull large datasets, identify PII, and locate responsive Electronically Stored Information (ESI). But there are still many in-house legal teams and law firms out there who try to apply more manual workflows to these situations without recognizing the value AI can bring.

It’s difficult to put an exact dollar-amount on how much savings a particular technology creates for legal teams, because every matter is unique, with infinite variables involving discovery parameters, data volume, and data types. But Stephen Goldstein, Director of Practice Support at Squire Patton Boggs, speaking at the 2019 Ipro Tech Show, gives a general breakdown of how using predictive coding adds value.

“If you start with 500,000 documents—and they’ve already been de-nisted and threaded, and you’ve gotten down to the core of the data you need to work with—a very good keyword approach would reduce that by about 65%, and you’d still have 175,000 documents. If that is sent to a managed review service, they could plow through them for a charge of around $180,000 for that kind of project, give or take. And that is assuming none of that work comes internal to lawyers who bill $400 an hour but is based on a $40 an hour charge.

“The predictive coding scenario is one that I’m very familiar with, and it’s one that we use. We would probably get an 85% reduction in the data, with fewer documents to review, at a far less cost. And we would have the benefit of that technology being in place to help with QC.”

This benchmark of saving a dollar for every document not sent for outside review – or as I heard one attorney say “a buck a doc” – is important to remember for both corporate in-house legal teams and law firms alike. But to do that with such large datasets, while protecting PII and meeting compliance requirements, you must leverage technology. No need to fear the robot overlords – say hello to your new AI assistant.

 

Learn more about Ipro’s AI & Advanced Analytics!

Ipro for Enterprise from Ipro eDiscovery & InfoGov on Vimeo.

Courtroom Drama: Trial Presentation Best Practices for the Virtual Courtroom

Trial Presentation Virtual Courtroom

Courtroom Drama: Trial Presentation Best Practices for the Virtual Courtroom

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

As early as May, the ABA Journal was raising the idea of Virtual Trials becoming a part of the “New Normal,” an oft-used phrase to indicate life moving forward in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Now, three months later, virtual hearings and trials are becoming a regular occurrence, and as they do, challenges arise with them.

This week’s eDiscovery Blues cartoon tries to capture a few of those challenges with our usual combination of levity and insight; in particular, the struggle of an attorney being able to gauge the reactions of various parties while presenting an exhibit on screen. Also, it was hard to pass up the chance to show someone taking advantage of professional attire for the camera, while still rocking shorts and fuzzy slippers off screen.

A Few Basics to Consider for Trial Presentation in the Virtual Courtroom

As most of us become accustomed to video conferencing and remote work, a few things start to become apparent as being necessary.

Second Monitor:

When you move from a real life setting to video, your brain might be expecting the outcome of a multi-camera television production, but the reality ends up something like today’s cartoon. But with Zoom calls, you actually do have multiple camera views to work with. This is where having, at minimum, a second monitor in order to optimize presenting as well as organizing participant and speaker views is crucial.

Backgrounds, Dress Codes, Lighting & Audio:

In the recent congressional hearings with the leaders of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, one thing that came out of that was an analysis of the speakers’ video presences (There was a great write up about it in the NY Times).

Keeping that in mind, here are some things to consider:

  • Attendees should keep their background simple and neat (backgrounds such as a beach landscape or a galaxy are inappropriate for the courtroom).
  • As dress codes are still required, attire needs to be professional. At least follow the “Zoom mullet” approach – business on the top, party on the bottom.
  • Also consider staying away from striped patterns in clothing. In a recent hearing, one participant was constantly closing his eyes, because another participant’s striped blouse was making him slightly nauseous as the pattern was visually vibrating.
  • Good lighting is also very important. Avoid being backlit. Also avoid dark spaces and shadows, which can add an unintentional, somber mood. Ring lights are more popular than ever and for good reason.
  • If you have to choose between good audio or good video, choose good audio. Investing in a quality mic can have a huge impact.

Opportunities & Challenges for Virtual Trials and Hearings

To get more insight into the current situation, I reached out to Alicia Aquino, who is a Trial Presentation Specialist and Litigation Consultant, for her take.

“Online trials are such a controversial topic; however, we see it CAN be done. Whether you’re in-person or online, organization and preparation are the keys to a seamless trial.”

She goes on to add a few of the challenges she’s currently seeing.

“We are finding that access to technology may be an issue for some states and counties.  In an ideal situation, jurors would use dual monitors during trial. As with an in-person trial, the cost of trial equipment is shared between parties, ensuring all jurors have an adequate set up may be the burden of the parties in the future.

“Another challenge with online trials is the internet speed varies from home to home, and jurors and parties are being dropped, causing delay.  A possible solution may be asking jurors to participate at a public setting (i.e. library or government building) which can accommodate for safe social distancing.

“There is a high level of importance for a technical or ‘IT bailiff’ during an online hearing or trial to assist with the coordination of jurors, breakout rooms, and any other tech issues. This person is trained by the court to handle the back end of the platform and logistics.  Some courts face an issue with the budget of having a full-time person assist with technology.

“Court reporters are being tasked with pulling up exhibits in a deposition; however, having an experienced trial tech will help streamline this process. Let the attorney handle the legal arguments while the tech handles the software and evidence.”

3 More Things to Consider for Trial Presentation in the Virtual Courtroom

For further insight on how to better prepare for virtual courtroom presentation, I turned to Janelle Vindiola, Senior Project Manager for the Ipro Trial Services Team.

    1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Take time for incorporating multiple practice sessions within your own legal team, so they can learn what to expect when presenting visual evidence in a remote environment. Practice sessions can help determine internet connectivity between parties (including witnesses) to allow time for upgrading equipment if needed. And, as the court is usually the web host, allow time for a practice session between court and counsel to understand the court’s expectations and requirements, as well as learning the workflows between all parties.

    1. Organization of Exhibits is Key to a Smooth Presentation

If it is not already part of the process, it is suggested for the legal team to share a daily outline of exhibits to be presented. Because the trial tech does not have the convenience of sitting next to counsel, an outline will help the tech easily follow the counsel’s direction of strategy and on queue to present.

Make sure to have an alternate file sharing application to support distribution, since Zoom has a file size limitation of 512MB. Also, courts are known to disable the chat and breakout rooms in Zoom, so the file sharing function may not even be available.

It is crucial to make sure all parties are on the same application platforms to easily follow group communications and data transfers. For trial teams (including trial techs), they will need to confirm alternate communications and have their own private cloud share as well.

    1. Security is Important

Make rooms private where possible and assign someone to vet participants as they enter the discussion. Zoom has a “waiting room” where people must go before being allowed in as means to prevent “Zoom bombing.” Someone will need to monitor that area for attendees if the proceedings are open to the public.

As web hosting may not be 100% secured, review and understand the security policies of your web application and best workflows. Zoom is constantly updating their security features; make sure everyone has the latest build.

Conclusion

As Alicia Aquino puts it, “The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for the legal industry to embrace technology and move cases through a virtual space. Although online jury trials are not ideal for long term, it is a viable option until we can all safely enter the same courtroom together. Although most courts are already familiar with Zoom for online hearings, there is an opportunity for a platform to be customized specifically to our industry and online courts.”

While there are certainly other challenges that will continue coming up, a little planning, preparation, and communication can go a long way. Things have definitely changed in the past few months, but it’s exciting to see how our industry is leveraging technology to keep the justice system moving forward.

 

See how TrialDirector 360 can help you make an impact during trial!

TrialDirector 360, by Ipro from Ipro eDiscovery & InfoGov on Vimeo.

 

How to Get Flawless Productions Every Time: eDiscovery Production Checklist

eDiscovery Productions Checklist

How to Get Flawless Productions Every Time: eDiscovery Production Checklist

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

I’ve heard stories like this from attorneys and paralegals more than once: opposing counsel sends a large production of documents in a single PDF. I’ve even heard a version where the production was sent with all of the emails in one PDF, the email attachments in a second PDF, and none of the metadata was sent at all.

Obviously, the solution for managing something like this isn’t a wild conglomeration of monitors stacked up in the attempt to give reviewers a clear view of everything in that never-ending PDF (plus, as this week’s eDiscovery Blues™ comic reminds us, it’s a fire hazard).

So what can you do?

Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) establishes the guidelines for producing Electronically Stored Information (ESI). It states that productions must be put into “a reasonably usable form,” and that the requesting party:

  • Must describe with reasonable particularity each item or category of items to be inspected;
  • Must specify a reasonable time, place, and manner for the inspection and for performing the related acts; and
  • May specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

In other words, “To get what you want, you have to ask for it.”

Use this eDiscovery Production Checklist to ensure productions are better than “reasonably usable” every time.

eDiscovery Production Format Checklist:

(Sources: Ipro Training, Vorys Legal, EDRM)

⇒ Documents should be produced as black & white TIFF images at 300 dpi named with the unique Bates number for that page.

⇒ ESI that cannot render to useable TIFF images (e.g. Spreadsheets, Presentations, Video files, Audio files, etc.) should be produced in native format, named with a unique Bates number and corresponding Bates-numbered TIFF image placeholder.

⇒ Scanned paper documents should be produced with logical unitization (i.e. distinct documents should not be merged into a single record, and single documents should not be split into multiple records).

⇒ Extracted text for all non-redacted electronic files containing searchable text should be produced, and all non-searchable or redacted files should be OCR’d. Native files should contain the text of the document and not the OCR version of the TIFF image placeholder.

⇒ Produced documents, images, and placeholders should include sequential Bates numbering, with prefixes consistent throughout all documents.

⇒ Extracted metadata should be produced, including the following fields:

  • Beginning and Ending Bates Number
  • Beginning and Ending Attachment with Bates Number
  • Page Count
  • Custodian
  • To, From, CC, BCC, Subject
  • Sent and Received Time Stamp
  • Document Folder, File Name, Title, Extension, Author
  • Date/Time Created, Last Modified
  • MD5 Hash
  • Privilege Designation

⇒ For paper documents, produce the following objective coding fields:

  • Beginning Bates number
  • Ending Bates number
  • Beginning attachment Bates number
  • Ending attachment Bates number
  • Source/custodian

⇒ Work with your eDiscovery Technology Vendor to ensure the highest quality productions

 

To learn more about how Ipro can help your organization
read this case study featuring Lightspeed Legal:

“We’ve done hundreds of productions using Ipro & the level of quality to DOJ specifications is unparalleled.”
Rith Kem, Chief Strategy Officer at LightSpeed Legal

 

Workflow Woes: How Paralegals Can Create and Maintain Effective eDiscovery Processes

paralegals eDiscovery Workflows

Workflow Woes: How Paralegals Can Create and Maintain Effective eDiscovery Processes

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2020Written by Jim Gill
Content Chief, Ipro

I have heard stories from paralegals about the challenges they face in trying to establish effective and repeatable workflows at their firms around Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and moving it through the discovery process. Today’s eDiscovery Blues was inspired by one of these stories, where the attorney had always organized documents with binder clips, and when it came to emails, the paralegal had to print those out, so they could be organized as well.

Hopefully by now, in 2020, litigation support teams understand how to leverage technology to save time, ensure accuracy, and pass on savings to their clients, even when working with a combination of ESI and hard copy documents (read this excellent Case Study with Whitney Farrell at PPS&C on how they were able to do exactly that); but it still raises the issue of workflows not being regularly reviewed or even created in the first place. On a recent Ipro webinar about creating workflows, a poll showed that a majority of the audience were working on a case-by-case basis when it came to process.

Brittany Thaler is an expert on eDiscovery workflows: she worked as a paralegal for 13 years, taught in Everest College’s paralegal training program, and is currently on the Ipro training team. “In my former life as a paralegal,” she says, “that was my task: Create a workflow, create a template, create a chart of what litigation looks like from complaint to appeal with all the tools we have available – whether that was with or without discovery tools – and when to begin trial preparation.” She continues:

“The key to making a good workflow isn’t the creation part. It’s how it actually functions in the real world. Be mindful that eDiscovery is changing the way a traditional discovery is being governed. Keep up on those changes and modify your workflows accordingly.”

Workflows shouldn’t be written and then left to gather dust. They need to evolve. That’s why it’s a good best practice to schedule a regular workflow evaluation every 6 to 12 months, to see how your teams are using the workflows and templates you’ve provided. What’s working, what isn’t working? Are they even being used?

From this you can get input from everyone involved – paralegals, litigation support, and attorneys – so that you can build repeatable processes that don’t require your team to reinvent the wheel with each case, but instead ensure accurate and efficient outcomes each time.

For more on how paralegals can create an effective eDiscovery workflow,
Listen to this webinar: Becoming the Indispensable eDiscovery Practitioner

Becoming the Indispensable eDiscovery Practitioner from Ipro Marketing on Vimeo.