Every year, our industry lines up the fall season with conferences covering the spectrum of legal industry verticals. ARMA focused on information governance; the Information Governance Initiative mapped out better strategies on IG, trends and ease of IG adoption; the Electronic Discovery Institute focused on process improvements; the Association of Corporate Counsel of America had a broader knowledge share to assist in-house counsel; The Masters Conference was a concentrated day of industry updates ‒ and this only names a handful of conferences in our legal world.
Since I had to pick and choose, I attended EDI and The Masters Conference. To say I was impressed would be an understatement with both events. I feared there would be overlap but was surprised I could map a path that gave unique perspectives regardless of similar topics.
EDI took place in New Orleans on November 14-16 and maintained a mantra of data reuse. Having talked about this for years, I felt a bit of celebration to hear that corporations are challenging outside counsel and vendors to act as information governance repositories for all data going through litigation rather than relying on case by case management. Their frustration is simple. A case opens, data is collected, processed, reviewed, produced, then sunset. Many key custodians are involved across many matters, but their data is processed and reviewed every time. Savvy law firms and vendor partners are now working together to ensure that these custodians’ data can be repurposed across matters with clever technology and people providing that access.
The Masters Conference is a traveling single-day event and took place in Washington, D.C. on October 20. The only gripe I heard and also had was that I wanted to be in two places at once because the topics, speakers and content were so great. In two of the sessions the topic of big data and case management approached collective case intelligence where (again) data reuse in a central repository allows for growing overall intelligence when data is properly stored and partitioned to cases as needed.
Our industry is changing. Billable hours are “becoming a last century relic” as stated by an unnamed panelist. Gigabyte pricing models are becoming obsolete as they are edged out by proper managed services models. Technology-assisted review is on the rise as we embrace new technology that allows defense on merit and investigating the complete case rather than keyword filtering without even testing the terms.
Although it is a generally tiring month, the payoff is great. Pages of notes, meeting great people and the atmosphere of this country’s great cities make the month worth it.