I got the chance to attend several sessions at the New York IQPC e-discovery event this week for some interesting perspectives on bringing e-discovery to the enterprise.
Recommind’s Craig Carpenter hosted a panel on Information Governance featuring Scott McVeigh, Director of RM at Aramark and Dawson Horn, Senior Litigation Counsel of Tyco, focusing on the benefits of litigation preparedness and getting organizational support from management and stakeholders. This issue came up more than once during the conference – the challenge of obtaining executive approval and participation from IT, legal, HR, compliance, procurement, RM and other stakeholders in planning, designing and deploying comprehensive information systems. McVeigh encouraged users to be vocal about the need for change, (over the course of several years if necessary), and to invoke C-level names to achieve organizational buy-in.
Autonomy’s Deborah Baron interviewed Karla Wehbe, Senior Information Resources Manager at Bechtel, for a case study of how the company is promoting document re-use by collaborating with outside counsel on a new methodology for ediscovery review. After parting ways with its prior law firm and losing access to previously reviewed documents, Bechtel established an information-centric approach to the process, facilitating re-use of reviewed documents through additional coding from outside counsel. The company claims that 5-75% of reviewed documents are now reusable.
Benefits include better control of document categorization and retention policy, as well as the ability for the company to “tell a story” with its evidence that can be communicated across cases. Wehbe acknowledged an initial “identity crisis” from outside counsel as the corporation established more control, but claims that they are now advocates of the process, and it has built trust and cooperation between them. An interesting example of the changing nature of the attorney-client relationship in corporate law. I am curious as to what their billing arrangement is.
Ian Campbell of iConect was joined by Kurt Michel of Content Analyst, VP of litigation for Phillips North America Timm Miller and Morgan Lewis Associate Denise Backhouse for a discussion of collecting ESI internationally, including EU data privacy regulations, the Hague evidence convention, blocking statutes, and the precedent set by the 1987 Supreme Court case Aerospatiale v. United States for requiring discovery even in defiance of blocking statutes from the jurisdiction of the data.
The difference in global collection philosophy is staggering (at least to this provincial American). Backhouse was asked (facetiously we hope) if it wasn’t enough for both parties just to agree “not to tell” about breaking regulations during discovery, and responded that that would violate the fundamental human right to privacy – literally a foreign concept to those of us accustomed to living under the Patriot Act. Not only could a company not access or even put a litigation hold on employee email in many EU countries, according to Backhouse even board meeting notes would be forbidden since they would identify attendees, potentially revealing where they were employed at the time.
The panel concluded that international e-discovery is not a checklist, but a carefully-negotiated balance between compliance and avoiding sanctions. We continue to follow this with interest, particularly the pending updates from the UK Civil Procedure Rules Committee, as Nick reported from the Thomson Reuters E-disclosure Conference in London.
Unfortunately I missed the judges’ panel, but the sessions I did attend were informative and underscored some of the trends we’ve been seeing in the market. Namely: the rise of Information Governance, the shifting of roles between e-discovery vendors, service providers, general counsel and law firms as technology moves in-house, and the increasingly (complicated) global nature of e-discovery.
We’re now hard at work on our 2010 long-form report on E-discovery and E-disclosure, featuring 25+ vendor profiles and comprehensive coverage of this fast-paced market – publication is slated for late Q1 2010, after Legal Tech. Stay tuned.