It has been quite a while since we have covered a grand mal discoveryscrew-up here at Above the Law. For a while, we almost started to believe the legal industry as a whole had finally caught up to technology — or at least had figured out how to keep major mistakes under the radar.
Well, our dry spell has ended. As we mentioned yesterday in Non-Sequiturs, the California office of a Biglaw firm handling some high-profile litigation for Goldman Sachs accidentally released an unredacted version of some files that the firm and its clients have spent years trying to keep secret.
Keep reading to learn more about the case and see which firm reportedly disseminated evidence of the bank’s “naked” short selling…
But we may have to wait for a while longer for the grand musical finale. Because it looks like, as of a new ruling from Monday, it looks like the predictive coding party has been temporarily called off.
So far, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck has been at the center of the controversy. His open enthusiasm for the technology (which we covered before Da Silva ever made headlines) has been the source of much legal wrangling. And the question now seems to be: is Judge Peck still willing to go to the mat over predictive coding?
For a couple of centuries, we thought that American elections were precise: People voted; the government counted each vote; we knew which candidate received how many votes.
In the year 2000, we learned that elections are approximations. Votes are miscounted; chads dangle; we don’t in fact know precisely who received how many votes. Elections are a human process after all, and they can’t bear the weight when we insist on precision within the margin of error.
So, too, with litigation. I recently spoke to one of our outside litigators who had seemingly vanished from the face of the earth for several weeks. He told me that one of his clients had run into a now-typical e-discovery disaster: His client had overlooked some documents; a computer system had automatically deleted some other documents; when the client corrected the situation, it did so imperfectly; the judge (who came from a government background and had no experience in private civil litigation) was quick to spy “bad faith.” Why, this outside lawyer asked, don’t judges appreciate the difficulties presented by e-discovery?
My thesis (for today, anyway) is that e-discovery is like elections: It’s an approximation, and participants in litigation (parties, counsel, courts) should understand that it may not bear the weight when the judicial system insists on precision within the margin of error . . . .
It has been a busy week in the e-discovery world. On Wednesday, a county court in Virginia ordered litigants to use predictive coding, despite the plaintiff’s objection. Last week, the plaintiffs in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe et al. tried to boot Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck from the case, as well as roll back his landmark ruling, which endorsed the technology for the first time.
Well, despite the haters, no one can stop the march of progress. A federal judge weighed in on Da Silva Moore yesterday. It looks like the score is Robots 1, Old-school Attorneys 0….
Despite all the brouhaha surrounding Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck‘s recent predictive coding ruling, the gates on the cutting-edge electronic discovery technology appear to be opening. Not the flood gates, but the kind of gates big enough to let deer into your back yard.
We have another case this week, from a small county court in Virginia, where a judge has ordered predictive coding despite the plaintiff’s objections. Keep reading to hear about the latest technology-assisted review in litigation.
UPDATE (4:00PM 4/26/12): We’ve obtained the plaintiffs’ motion, as well as the defense’s response. You can see them below…
We’ve covered the trials and tribulations — and occasional dishonorable public unveiling — of anonymous internet commenters before. And we have learned that just because someone comments anonymously does not mean no one can find out their identity.
A Texas couple, a day spa owner and a prominent attorney, won a large defamation suit against would-be anonymous commenters last week, showing once again that your secret identity is never as secret as you might hope.
With the assistance of Above the Law’s Research Corner, you’ll be able to access white papers from leading legal technology companies. From in-house e-discovery matters, to the latest news on predictive coding, you’ll be able to find solutions for all of your technological problems just by signing up.
We’ve recently added some new topics to our collection in the Research Corner, including:
Datacert: Customer Success Story – Walmart
Dell DX & Symantec Solution Brief: Store, Manage, and Discover Critical Business Information with a Complete Archiving Solution
FTI Consulting: Advice from Counsel 2011: An Inside Look at Streamlining E-Discovery Programs
Guidance Software: Choosing the Right In-House Electronic Discovery Solution for Your Organization
Mitratech: Technology Platform for Legal Department
Nuix: A Step-by-Step Guide to Early Case Assessment (ECA)
Recommind: Predictive Coding: The Next Phase of Electronic Discovery Process Automation
TCDI: Concept Technology for Streamlining Document Review
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[C]omputer-assisted review… should be seriously considered for use in large-data-volume cases where it may save the producing party (or both parties) significant amounts of legal fees in document review. Counsel no longer have to worry about being the “first” or “guinea pig” for judicial acceptance of computer-assisted review.
I hate to invoke a cliché, but “David versus Goliath” captures the challenge a smaller firm faces when litigating against an Am Law 200 firm. A small firm can feel like David when facing a larger firm that can bring more resources to bear on legal research, drafting motions, reviewing documents, etc.
The challenge increases when applied to clients. Many of my firm’s initial clients were startups or emerging companies with limited litigation budgets. Their adversaries often were much larger, established companies with seemingly unlimited budgets. Thus, we faced not only the challenge of litigating against brand-name firms with hundreds of attorneys, but we also initially had clients who simply could not afford to spend as much in legal fees as their well-heeled opponents.
So how can a small firm, especially representing a smaller company, effectively litigate against a proverbial army of lawyers representing a client to whom money is no object?
Howrey dissolved almost an entire year ago, but its bones are still filling warehouses and servers across the world, and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in storage fees.
The firm’s estate is embroiled in the painstaking process of destroying old files or returning them to former clients. There is still a long, long way to go. In today’s Washington Post, we get to see a vivid illustration of the problems involved in putting to rest a massive law firm that bridged the paper and electronic eras.
It is also a good cautionary tale for other firms: these documents will not just go away, even if your firm bites the dust…
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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