Document Review

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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Just a few weeks ago, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck (S.D.N.Y.) spoke to several hundred people at LegalTech New York about the importance of predictive coding for the future of electronic discovery. He expressed his hope that a federal court would, sooner rather than later, officially encourage using the technology in a case.

Shortly after participating in the panel, Judge Peck fulfilled his own wish. Last week, he became what appears to be the first federal judge to order litigants to use the cutting-edge technology in a case.

Let’s look at the details, as well as take a little refresher on predictive coding…

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Only God can save you now, James. Not sure if he's interested, though.

It might have seemed impossible, but things have gotten worse for those involved in the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

In addition to all the other evidence against the now defunct newspaper, which was run by James Murdoch, the son of everyone’s favorite terrifying Australian media baron, new email evidence — that investigators literally pulled out of a box in an abandoned office — indicates that the younger Murdoch should have known exactly what was going on.

This isn’t a smoking gun e-mail. It’s a smoking gun, fingerprints, and well-fit glove…

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* The fact that this guy got so drunk off of beer pong means he’s probably the best pong competitor who has ever lived. [New York Post]

* This is the best document review job ever. I’m not joking. Does $85/hour sound like a joke? You might need to learn Japanese, though. [Constitutional Daily]

* I wonder how this will affect the inevitable occasions on which I accidentally post drunken political rants on Above the Law’s Twitter feed. [Corporate Counsel]

* New York Times reporter David Segal has made major waves for criticizing law schools. Can other people make waves for criticizing David Segal? [Blueprint LSAT Preparation]

* Lat was on Minnesota Public Radio today giving a measured defense of unpaid internships. Kids at my high school were unpaid interns all the time. It was no big deal. (By the way, ATL is seeking a paid intern.) [Minnesota Public Radio]

* Baker Botts just elected a new managing partner. Congratulations to Andrew M. Baker! [Tex Parte Blog]

* Earlier today, the internet temporarily exploded when the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional. Here are comments from David Boies and Ted Olson, the lawyer heavyweights who argued the case. [Metro Weekly]

I don’t always cover electronic discovery, but when I do, I prefer juicy court decisions.

And that’s what we have today. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York released a blunt, controversial ruling last week, slamming down accounting firm KPMG for requesting a less intense preservation obligation. The case has unsettling implications for attorneys and corporations who have big hopes in the future of less costly and less invasive e-discovery standards.

The case has been causing headaches for some time now….

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LegalTech New York finished up earlier this week. I survived with only a minor case of technology loop, although my iPhone was begging for mercy by the end.

The conference was frenetic, to say the least. There was a lot going on, regarding a cornucopia of technological topics and tools to help lawyers. As expected, the biggest hype revolved around predictive coding and computer-assisted review.

The legal technology world has been buzzing about this stuff for a while now, and we have covered it on these pages several times before. (Here and here, for starters). At the conference, attendees got to hear from the naysayers, the enthusiasts, and everyone in between. Several panels helped explain exactly what the technology means on a practical level. And no, cyborgs will not be stealing all the contract attorney jobs any time soon.

One of this week’s highlights was a lunchtime panel featuring two prominent attorneys and a New York magistrate judge. The discussion helped clarify, demystify, and define the terms that have been making headlines (even in the New York Times) for a good part of the past year. Is computer-assisted review as scary as it seems? Of course not.

Let’s see what the panelists — and at least one irate audience member — had to say….

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Judge Andrew Peck

Keyword searching is absolutely terrible, in terms of statistical responsiveness.

– Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck (S.D.N.Y.), in a panel today at the LegalTech conference. He spoke alongside Wachtell Lipton counsel Maura Grossman and Jackson Lewis partner Ralph Losey, on a panel that aimed to demystify cutting-edge, computer-assisted e-discovery technology. Peck is a vocal proponent of computer-assisted discovery and predictive coding. He is not a fan of the slightly older keyword-searching technology.

(A few minutes later, Losey had another strong opinion to add. See what was said, after the jump.)

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Anyone who works with e-discovery has no doubt encountered the bewildering array of vendors and service providers clamoring for legal technology business. It can be confusing.

As the e-discovery industry has exploded, vendors’ roles have expanded and changed as well. Just a few years ago, it was more common for attorneys and their firms to have to piece together several vendors to form a cohesive e-discovery attack plan. These days, many service providers offer more start-to-finish options.

Even though it is all very technical, vendor work sometimes walks the line between IT work and actual lawyering. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has become wary of discovery vendors that might offer misleading advertisements about their legal certifications. Last week the Court’s Committee for the Unauthorized Practice of Law (sounds intimidating!) delivered an opinion clarifying some rules relevant to discovery vendors.

While they were at it, the committee delivered a couple solid kidney shots. Ouch….

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You made a fool of me… and got me in huge trouble with the feds.

For a long time, I have been a staunch advocate of putting passwords on all electronic devices — laptops, phones, tablets, etc. There’s no reason to leave your private life or sensitive business data accessible to any schmo who might have access to your phone, just because you’re too lazy to spend three seconds typing in a password. This is especially true for lawyers, given the client confidences that they handle.

At least personally, however, I’m more lax about sharing some access passwords with close friends or family. My girlfriend knows my iPhone and computer passwords. (I know hers too.) Usually I don’t stress about potentially catastrophic consequences of her knowing that information. But every once in awhile I read something that makes me seriously wonder if you can trust anybody.

My current crisis of trust arises from the prosecution of a man accused of conspiring to export millions of dollars of electronic equipment from the U.S. to Iran. Prosecutors found “incredibly blatant admissions of criminal wrongdoing and philandering” on the defendant’s iPhone. But the man says his wife — who he is currently trying to divorce — stole the phone and forged the incriminating evidence.

Talk about emasculating. Let’s read more about this not-so-happy couple.…

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There is a lot of talk these days about the impossibly high costs and absurd amounts of time attorneys spend on e-discovery. Everyone is looking for the best way to make the process more efficient and less time-consuming.

So it is reassuring when a federal judge recognizes that need, and does his part to eliminate careless document review agreements.

Earlier this month, a New Jersey District Judge wrote just that sort of opinion. The savvy judge seems to have his priorities straight….

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