I recently attended the Sedona E-Discovery Conference in Houston, E-Discovery in a New Era: New Technologies, New Media, New Rules. At just over eight years into my e-discovery career, I’ve been to a lot of conferences and heard a lot of panels and to be honest, at this point it takes something out of the ordinary to impress me. Well, I was again impressed by the topics and level of discourse I heard in the room at Sedona. Here are list of my takeaways from the conference – some serious and some not so serious – but hopefully all thought-provoking.
- Mobile is the thread – nearly every panel this year (Case Law Update, In-House Roundtable, and Security Breaches) touched on the problem of e-discovery from mobile devices. The discussions and comments around mobile reminded me of TAR back in 2010 – everyone knows it’s important and is either hoping it will magically go away or excited to see what comes next – or both. Very few seem to have a solid plan regarding what to do about it.
- Cyber security is freaking everyone out – The Target Breach came up more at Sedona than it did at RSA (where I was the month before). Ok that may be a slight exaggeration, but as one of the few vendors in the room who has been actively working in cybersecurity for a while, it surprised me to see the Sedona crowd talking about it so much. But then again it also didn’t surprise me because anyone with legal training can see the amount of legal fallout that is going to be created by breaches for years to come. We are literally in the infancy stage of knowing how to deal with cyber incidents and the legal industry may actually be in the zygote stage.
- The dust is finally settling around TAR/Predictive Coding – At last year’s Sedona Conference I thought the TAR panel was going to turn into a lucha libre wrestling match or at least a verbal smackdown of epic proportions. This year it was a civilized and sedate discussion on which I took exactly five notes (most of them quotes of interesting things the excellent Maura Grossman said) which I think is probably an even clearer indication than TAR’s repeated acceptance in civil cases across the land that the topic is becoming truly settled and just part of the normal e-discovery fabric.
- Judge Lee Rosenthal is the best – Judge Rosenthal had to miss Day 1 of the conference because she was actually presiding over a trial. I’m truly sad I missed her comments on the proposed FRCP amendments because, A. She has been the chair of the Federal Judicial Conference Advisory Committee for Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for over 10 years and thus probably knows more about it than pretty much anyone, and B. I could happily listen to her read the phonebook. Luckily she showed up on Day 2 to liven up the Judges’ roundtable.
- In-House Counsel are the new rockstars of the e-discovery world – Everyone really wants to know what they are doing and what they are thinking, which is unsurprising because a lot of the big trends we are seeing (mobile, security, big data) are things that hit corporate law departments more than anyone else, so the in-house teams have more knowledge and experience to share. I know that I was pretty much riveted for the entire hour and 45 minutes, (yes I said ‘1 hour and 45 minutes’) of the in-house roundtable. I just wish they’d had time to talk more about mobile!
- In-sourcing is the wave of the future – “All the cool kids are doing it – you can save time, save money, be more efficient…” There was some definite light scoffing at those who are not bringing the process in-house at least partially. Of course as an astute commenter pointed out, the audience at Sedona is the 1% when it comes to e-discovery expertise and the panelists are the .001%. Not everyone is sophisticated enough or has enough support to bring everything in-house. Service providers do not despair! (yet).
- Taking everything to the cloud is the wave of the future – It seemed in the next breath after someone would talk about in-sourcing, someone would refer to bringing everything to the cloud. And then in the next breath someone would refer to the cloud being unsecured – which brings us to the final takeaway:
- You guys everyone is REALLY FREAKING OUT about cyber security! See #2. The Security Breaches panel on the last day should have been when everyone was checking flight statuses and catching up on email, but the whole audience was riveted on the discussion of how to detect, respond to and resolve breaches. It was pointed out by several panelists that the e-discovery team and the security team are often one and the same and that data involved in breaches and e-discovery is also often the same; however there was still a palpable sense that this is an area we are just beginning to grapple with as a community. Stay tuned on this one.
For me the conference was another eye-opener and a rare chance to listen to really smart people who are actually practicing talk about the issues that matter to the legal technology community. It was also confirmation that issues such as mobile and cybersecurity are steadily expanding that community to involve more players, more problems and more solutions. If you couldn’t make it to Sedona this year, try to set aside the time for next year. It’s well worth it!