Moving On: Embracing Job Change in the E-Discovery Industry

The last time I looked for a job, I was in my 20’s. Gas cost less than $1.50 a gallon; George W. Bush was president; and no one binge-watched anything other than old Seinfeld episodes. I finished law school and had three job offers waiting for me. Being a bit adventurous, I decided to take the risky path and not practice law. I joined a tech company helping lawyers use software to find a needle in a haystack.

And that was 16 years ago – 16 challenging, fulfilling, and wonderful years in the e-discovery industry. In those years, I solved complex problems, built amazing tools, and helped clients navigate sticky situations. As career trajectories often go, now I find myself in transition, leaving my former employer and figuring out what’s next.

I know I am not alone in this transition. The e-discovery industry is anything but constant, and that includes the job landscape. Many of you have found yourselves in a similar place, voluntarily or involuntarily seeking your next career move.

As I look to the future, I have learned that my most valuable asset from the last two decades is all of you. Those of you reading this blog; those of you I used to work with; and those of you at the conferences and tradeshows. The e-discovery community is just that – a community. I want to share what I have learned in this transition period, along with the wisdom of others who have travelled this same journey.

My hope is that these experiences help you pursue a new job now or in the future.

Six Tips for E-Discovery Career Changes

1. Hunt like it’s your job, but take time to smell the roses. Job hunting is my new job, so I treat it like a job. That means every single day I spend time in pursuit of my future. My new office is the kitchen table, and the dog is my new co-worker. I check email, reach out to people, troll LinkedIn, go out for lunch, make “to do” lists. Phil Favro, a Consultant at Driven, recommends, “Keep your name out there, diversify your skill set, pursue new certifications, and most importantly, keep your reputation intact.”

However, as many of you know, working in the e-discovery industry is fully immersive, leaving little time for outside interests. If you are in transition from one job to the next, now is the time to do something meaningful. Volunteering, freelancing, hobbies, travel, friends. From personal experience, elementary school teachers and pro bono lawyer networks are thrilled to hear you have some extra time on your hands, and without even asking, you will find yourself with a fulfilling volunteer role.

2. Become a story-teller. To find that next opportunity, you need to share your story. What you did previously, why you left (or are thinking about leaving), where you want to go next. In this transition phase, I have come to value the multitudes of people who have been willing to talk to me. It means the world to hear from people in your network. They will help you refine your story, brainstorm networking avenues, and build your confidence.

Further, I have learned to be systematic about expanding my network. I keep a spreadsheet of everyone I talk to, what was said, who they refer me to, and the action items. Sometimes this means reaching out to people I have not talked to in 10+ years, asking a LinkedIn contact to make a referral for me, or cold-calling people I have never met. “As long as I have been networking, it still surprises me how truly small this world can be. When you are seeking a new opportunity, it is imperative that you talk to as many contacts as possible to leverage those relationships because you never know where those conversations will lead you. And, just as importantly, be helpful to those that are looking. Being able to connect a viable candidate to a company that needs a particular skill set will cement your relationships on both ends,” noted Denise B. Bach, CEDS, Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Stroz Friedberg, an Aon company.

3. Add letters behind your name. During your career transition, whether you are still employed or seeking work, there is no better way to propel your career than to attain a certification. Most of these certifications require passing an examination, which will help validate your experiences. Also, the process of preparing for and taking an examination will help you stay relevant in a changing industry. In the e-discovery industry, this could mean achieving an association-based e-discovery certification, adding a platform or tool certification, or extending into an adjacent space with a privacy or security certification. “Initials after your name validate specific, usually technical, experience. You will share the initials and what it took to earn them with others, who become part of your community,” said Mary Mack, CEDS, CISSP, CAIM, Esq., Executive Director, ACEDS. “I found, as a woman (and an attorney) that questions about my technical competence stopped after earning my CISSP. The CEDS community is very generous with its members in transition, ready to make introductions, help with resumes, and generally support our job seekers.”

4. Embrace headhunters. Staffing professionals are here to help you, but do your diligence. Ask people in your network which staffing companies they have used and ask for them to introduce you. “Having the right representation is more important than having just any representation,” says TRU founder and CEO, Jared Coseglia. “Something many candidates actively looking for a job do not realize is that once an agency sends your resume to a client, only they can represent you there for the next six to twelve months typically. So, choose your representation wisely, and make sure no one sends your resume anywhere without your express permission first.” Coseglia recommends asking these questions of any staffing agency:

  • What do you specialize in?
  • How often do you successfully place professionals with my profile? In my geography? In my industry vertical?
  • What separates your agency from others?
  • Are you reaching out to me for just a specific opportunity or will you have others like this?
  • Have you staffed for the company you are searching for in the past?

5. Look outside e-discovery. A former law school colleague said to me, “Stop being so timid in submitting applications.” He went on to enlighten me of a study showing that women only apply for jobs if they are 100% qualified, while men apply if they meet 60% of the criteria. I have learned to be bold in touting my experience, including looking for jobs outside of the e-discovery industry. “To become good at e-discovery, [it] requires a core level of knowledge, or even expertise, in many things, including computers, mobile devices, removable media, server systems, networking devices, cyber security, as well as organizational structures, business process and workflow and project management,” notes Eric P. Mandel, Vice President of Information Governance & Cyber Security Strategy at Ricoh USA. “All of this knowledge, and the skill sets that you develop while doing the job, are transferable into other roles in other areas.”

6. Get comfortable with uncomfort. Suppress your inner “type A” persona that tends to flock the e-discovery profession and learn to accept the present uncertainty. You will hear “no” a lot. Get okay with that and learn to move on quickly. “Use your situation as a chance to try something new. You may be rejected one, two, or even twenty times before the right opportunity comes along. Ask for feedback to help you better prepare for the next one,” says Jackie Rosborough, Independent Consultant and Executive Director of Women in E-Discovery.

Chips Ahoy: #Meltdown and #Spectre Implications for Legal Professionals Part I

Recent press reports talk about a newly discovered form of security threat that involves attackers exploiting common features of modern microprocessors (aka chips) that power our computers, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets. These attacks, known as “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, are getting a lot of attention.

The chips at issue are those that were designed and marketed to be secure for multiple processes running at the same time.  The intent was to have the processes be independent, and to have the flow of data isolated one process to the next.

Research found that passwords and other sensitive data could be accessed by processes not authorized for such access.  Chip makers, operating system makers, anti-virus software providers and others are rushing to patch the systems.  Initially billed as a hardware fix, security professionals have designed and deployed software patches.  The initial software patches made systems run as much as 30% slower. The patches are being optimized to reduce the drag.

There will be a deluge of substantive work to determine the indemnity, IP, breach notification and liability around the vulnerabilities that have been identified to date and those that will emerge in the future.  Legal teams and those who serve them must be ready to work together to mitigate its impact, e-discovery, info gov and privacy professionals should be well positioned to assist the security professionals on the front lines.

Garden-variety computer forensics often times provides access to data not intended for harvest:  encryption keys, passwords, account access, caches of documents written to disk as an operating system artifact and not erased.  This data can be available to those who break into a system.  The vulnerabilities exposed with Meltdown and Spectre make multi-tenant systems, that is, cloud based, or systems intended to secure multiple, segregated projects from each other, are at increased risk.  The risk is that with a timing attack, an unauthorized intruder could read in memory some of these same encryption keys, passwords and caches of documents.

Hardware upgrades often force changes in operating systems and key infrastructure.  Because work product is so critical, and ediscovery depends on hash codes to flag differences in files as small as a character, it is important to know when to test the impact of patches and upgrades on your ediscovery data.  As patches have been released, some have worked at the operating system level but not at the anti-virus software level, necessitating a new patch—and new testing.

With patches, there may be changes in how metadata is handled and new impacts on searching (new stop words, perhaps) and document impacts.  You may need to accept changes in hashes for the same file, or you may be able to store two hash values, a before and after value.  These values not only authenticate collections and native productions, they also provide the framework for data reduction (cost savings) via deduplication.

Patching how chips handle data and how operating systems handle files can introduce changes in how file metadata is handled.  Without documenting why metadata looks different, you may be allowing the requesting party an opening to challenge the authenticity of your evidence.

It is likely that Meltdown and Spectre will take months to patch, and that new vulnerabilities will emerge, making this remediation a time and staff consuming event.

Part II will cover a plan for eDiscovery and legal teams to get their arms around the problem and remediate.

Resources courtesy of Christophe Veltos aka @DrInfoSec
Meltdown, Spectre: The password theft bugs at the heart of Intel CPUs • The Register
Meltdown and Spectre
Experts Weigh In On Spectre Patch Challenges

Statue of justice

Boilerplate Objections

Judge Peck sends a warning shot to the bar about meaningless, repetitive boilerplate responses to document requests.  Judge Peck, in essense, tells counsel to RTFR (a Chris Dale acronym meaning read the F(abulous) Rules and to update their template responses to include specific answers to requests.  Unless objections observed the “requirement to state objections with specificity”, he would consider boilerplate objections as waivers to all but privilege claims.

Fischer v Forrest, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28102 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2017)

Inherent Authority

The US Supreme Court examined the inherent authority of the court to apply sanctions for discovery misconduct.  The Court validated the court’s authority to apply a sanction for fees, but limited the amount to determine “only the portion of his fees that we would not have paid but for” the misconduct at issue, and without including amounts designed to punish.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, 137 S. Ct. 1178 (Apr. 18, 2017)

Self-Authenticating Evidence

Federal Rule of Evidence 902 amendments took effect on December 1, 2017.

Kelly Twigger reviews the reactions to FRE 902, allowing self-authentication of ESI.  Kelly quotes Craig Ball’s must-have’s for the affidavit certifying the collection:

  1. The corpus of data copied from the electronic device, storage medium, or file is clearly and unequivocally identified;
  2. The witness verifying the hash value is qualified and experienced in the calculation of a hash value;
  3. The tool and methodology employed to calculate the hash is known by the witness to be reliable;
  4. The witness attests that the hash values matched using the verified tool/methodology; and
  5. The hash value is disclosed (to facilitate independent verification). This last may not be an essential element, but I deem it good practice. Read more about Rule 902 here

Overseas Data and the Supreme Court

With the General Data Protection Regulation about to go live in May 2018,  all eyes are on the Supreme Court as they approach a SDNY Microsoft case where Microsoft does not want to turn over the data they stored in Ireland in response to a US warrant.  There is Google case pending with a similar situation, so this particular case will have a wide ranging impact.

US v Microsoft, cert granted Oct 16, 2017


Consummate blogger @RalphLosey’s play by play on “Waymo v. Uber” #ediscovery case has everything: the Jacobs letter, ephemeral communication tools, Rules and ethics. Richly cited, with expert commentary. Waymo will be influential for what has happened already:  losing credibility with the judge for not disclosing relevant material, the government sua sponte producing a document in a different proceeding, disgruntled employees disclosing organizationally privileged communications.  As with the Qualcomm case, Waymo will be a case cited for what not to do.

#Bakers18, Like Ocean’s Eleven, Except Better | 2018 | HPC

Extract from David Kinnear’s article “#Bakers18, Like Ocean’s Eleven, Except Better | 2018 | HPC”

In 2017, we had great fun with our #BakersDozen interview series and we will be having lots more fun in ’18. In these interviews, we asked individuals to be candid. To speak from the heart about their experience and perspective, about failure and success in equal measure – and about the direction of the legal industry. So we decided to return to the #Bakers theme for our peeky-boo look behind the curtain into ’18. We asked just a very discreet handful of individuals – representing some of the best minds in modern law – to share a few thoughts on what they each see ahead.

This, then, is the #Bakers18. Un-filtered, un-edited, un-matched, un-mistakable, un-believably amazing. We invite you to sit back and read these poignant perspectives on the year ahead.

Read the 2018 predictions here