An Introvert’s Guide to Networking

Everyone needs a network—it’s a great way to share ideas, learn new things, and connect with like-minded individuals. Even if your job doesn’t involve sales or regularly interacting with customers, networking is important. Networking helps you build relationships and strengthen your personal brand. Whether you think you have a personal brand or not—you do.

We hosted a session about networking at Relativity Fest 2017 to offer tips that attendees could put into practice at the conference. Networking all-star Doug Kaminski, director of major accounts at Relativity, joined us to offer some of his fabulous tips and tricks for both in-person and social media networking, which were extremely helpful to us and our attendees.

During the interactive session, we found that many of the attendees labeled themselves as introverts and wanted advice on how to better network. This isn’t uncommon in the legal space; according to the legal training and placement firm Wisnik Career Enterprises, 60 percent of lawyers are introverts. Beyond this stat, many in our legal tech space are analysts and introverts, desiring to build a network but unsure how to start.

While extroverts tend to be energized by large events with lots of people, introverts are more likely to be drained by these types of events. However, it’s not that introverts are bad at networking. They just need the right tools to make the experience more comfortable. Here are some tips for introverts looking to spread their networking wings.

1. Prep and Set Goals

When you’re going to a networking event, it can help to set goals. Whether you’re continuing a relationship or starting a new one, having a list of people you’d like to meet allows you to make sure you build the right connections by the end of the event.

A self-proclaimed introvert in the audience came to the front of the class to share what helps her when it comes to networking. Christine Chalstrom, president and CEO of Shepherd Data, said that because she has a hard time remembering faces, she’ll create a cheat sheet of who’s who. She also prepares questions that she’d like to ask people, especially if there’s someone she’s very excited to meet, such as Judge Peck.

While you might not be able to get a list of people who are going to the event, Doug pointed out that if the networking event is taking place at a conference, speakers from sessions are likely to attend. No matter what your goals are, ask your friends and colleagues to see if they’re planning to attend. It’s always nice to have a friendly face and a place to start.

2. Bring a Wingman and Find the Sweet Spots

If you have an entrance plan, everything is easier. Start by finding a wingman or two to go with you. It’s helpful to have a wingman who’s extroverted to help break the ice and introduce you to people.

If you’re flying solo, find someone you already have a relationship with. You’ll build up some confidence to talk to new people.

It also helps to gauge the room to get an idea of who’s there. Once you have an idea of who’s in attendance, it’s easier to decide where you want to go.

To ease into the situation, try chatting with people waiting in line at food and drink stations or other general gathering areas. It’s not as threatening as walking up to a table of people already in conversation. You may also look for others who are not yet engaged in conversation and may be looking for someone just like you to talk to. In social settings, some people feel more comfortable with a drink in hand. A ginger ale or sparkling water with a slice of lime is always a good go-to networking drink.

3. Don’t Get Intimidated by Cliques

If you’re at a packed event and there’s a group in a closed circle, it can be difficult to break into it. If there’s one person you know in the group, walk over and let them know you see they’re in the middle of a conversation, but you just wanted to say hi. If they engage, then you have an in to join the group. Nine times out of ten, they will introduce you to the other people in the circle. If I don’t know anyone in the group, you can try to use information about someone in the circle to make an introduction. This is one way your research comes in handy.

It’s possible the body language of the group will inform you that it isn’t a good time. In that case, make your exit and move on to another group. You get turned down sometimes. It’s important that you don’t take it personally.

Back from the audience, Christine added that you should keep this in mind when you’re in a group of people. Keep a look out for people who are trying to make an introduction and make it easy for them to get into the circle.

Because it can be difficult for introverts to break into groups at events, she recommends networking in sessions. She likes to find a common interest, such as technology or the session topic, to help start a conversation.

 

While networking can feel uncomfortable and draining for introverts, don’t be discouraged. Try out some of these tips, practice, and find what works for you.

 

Register for an Upcoming Networking Webinar from ACEDS

Bold Thinking, Not Tinkering – Thoughts on the Global Legal Hackathon

The Global Legal Hackathon this weekend has brought together multiple streams of entrepreneurial activity (internationally) and taps into a global community of individuals and organizations with a passion for innovation via legal technology. HPC Advisory Board member and ACEDS Executive Director, Mary Mack, fielded a few questions regarding the Hackathon:

MARY MACK: HOW DOES THE MISSION OF HPC ALIGN?

David Kinnear: HPC reflects the face and the voice of the modern legal industry – and where it is heading over the next ten years. Inherent in this position is the view that technology will become wholly intrinsic to law and the delivery of legal services. Telling the stories of legal innovation and the founders driving change – well, that’s what we do. We’re excited to learn what people are building – and we’re excited to support the winners by providing exclusive VIP coverage on High Performance Counsel.

MM: WHY IS THIS RELEVANT TO THE ACEDS COMMUNITY?

DK: Our own relationship with ACEDS reflects our view of ACEDS as being a cornerstone of the emerging, modern legal industry – harnessing the key elements of technology and people. We think ACEDS is uniquely positioned in its nexus to the growth of legal technology and its certification of professional competencies. For the modern legal professional, technology will become a much more vital part of day-to-day participation in the modern sector.

MM: HOW CAN THE ACEDS COMMUNITY GET INVOLVED?

DK: Follow our updates on Twitter (#GLH2018, #GlobalLegalHack), on LinkedIn and also postings on High Performance Counsel under: #BulletPoints (our market commentary). Our experience of ACEDS is that it is very proactive in providing great content and support for fellow CEDs so stay tuned and use this great organization to be informed. Professionally, this is a very important time for individuals to get informed and stay informed about the change and innovation that technology is bringing – both in terms of preparing for workplace changes and also in terms of the career opportunities it can represent.

MM: AS A JUDGE IN NYC, WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR?

DK: “Bold thinking – not tinkering.”  Yes, we will be writing about that on High Performance Counsel! I’m interested to see ideas and concepts that do indeed have practical application, but they are (much) more than “just another layer” on old thinking and old workflow models. I am particularly interested in the digitization and productization of law – a concept which remains painfully early still but that (I think) will have huge revenue implications for service providers.

John Tredennick, Founder and Chief Evangelist at Catalyst.

MARY MACK: WHAT IS THE HACKATHON’S PURPOSE?

John Tredennick: The goal is to bring together a lot of very smart developers, have them focus on legal problems and see what they can come up with to solve those problems.

MM: HOW DOES THE MISSION OF CATALYST ALIGN?

JT: Catalyst was formed to focus on legal problems, in this case the need to better manage the discovery process. We put together a lot of smart people who came up with our Insight Discovery Platform. We have succeeded because the platform does in fact help clients save on discovery costs and time.

MM: WHY IS THIS RELEVANT TO THE ACEDS COMMUNITY?

JT: ACEDS has always been focused on helping legal professionals better manage litigation so it has a vested interested in a program like this

MM: AS A JUDGE IN DENVER, WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR?

JT: Innovative ideas that can actually work. To succeed, an idea has to be simple, the solution has to be easily managed and it has to provide at least a 30% benefit over existing options. I am excited to see what the hackers come up with after a weekend of caffeine and intense focus on legal needs. My thanks to everyone involved. It will be an honor to participate and be a judge.

Fernando Garcia General Counsel, Government Affairs and  Corporate Secretary

MM: WHAT IS THE HACKATHON’S PURPOSE?

FC: The Hackathon is really an opportunity to have individuals interested in law 2.0 come together and work in teams toward finding solutions to actual problems utilizing the best of legal and tech tools available today. It really is an opportunity to showcase not only what is possible today, but also finding ways to do things better, differently! People have for a long time been fascinated about building the better mouse trap, here it is, lawyers and professionals from other disciplines getting together to build the better legal mouse trap!

MM: HOW DOES THE MISSION OF HPC ALIGN?

FC: HPC is about bringing leaders in the legal community together to share best practices, discuss where law is today and where it will be going tomorrow. It is a forum for lawyers who “get it” to be able to together shape the how, where and why of law and legal technology. These leaders are also found across the world, in multiple jurisdictions, multiple legal communities and through very different legal traditions, but are brought together with the common goal of doing more with the tools available and in sharing of best practices to elevate ourselves as professionals and our profession generally. This creates a perfect alignment with the Global Hackathon.

MM: WHY IS THIS RELEVANT TO THE ACEDS COMMUNITY?

FC: The ACEDS community has in many ways been at the front line of the changing legal landscape. E-discovery has been one of the areas that I still use as an example of how technology and legal practice can work well together. The community took a common problem, how can we avoid the labour-intensive effort required to scour through thousands or millions of documents fast and efficiently and found a solution through the use of technology. The community has been there and done that, through their experience and outside-the –box thinking approach, it would be great to see what else they can bring to the table and what other solutions they can find.

MM: HOW CAN THE ACEDS COMMUNITY GET INVOLVED?

FC: The beauty here is that there are many opportunities for everyone to get involved. It is an opportunity to work with others in the legal and tech community to share best practices, work collaboratively and build something new, their insights are welcome and important. Besides, it will be a global first and fun, so there are many reasons to get involved and opportunities to make your mark!

MM: AS A JUDGE IN NYC, WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING FOR?

FC: In Toronto, what I would be looking for is innovation and outside of the box thinking. Looking for that aha moment where a team can use the tools at their disposal to solve a real life problem. It may range from something as minimal as a team finding solution to simplify a simple task or legal process to finding a solution that will enhance access to justice or fundamentally alter how people “do law” moving forward. That is the beauty of this, anything is possible. But for me, outside of the box thinking, practical solutions to a real life problem, and just strategic use of the tools available today with an eye as to how this can be even more developed tomorrow will be some of the things I will be looking out for.

No Love for the 2015 Discovery Amendments: Landry v. Swire Oilfield Services

February is the month of love. Hearts, candy, and flowers. The hint of spring harkening. The enthusiasm of a new year upon us.

But for one federal court judge, the New Year brought no love.

In early January 2018, Judge James Browning, from the district of New Mexico, issued an opinion reviling the 2015 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) amendments – the same amendments that most of our e-discovery community heralds. Why no love?

The opinion came in Landry v. Swire Oilfield Servs., No. CIV 16-0621 JB/LF (D.N.M. Jan. 3, 2018), a suit involving Fair Labor Standards Act claims by oilfield operators who assert they were not paid appropriate overtime and minimum wage rates. In discovery, the plaintiffs sought electronic payroll records controlled by a third-party payroll processor. Controversy arose when the Defendants produced 12,249 pages of payroll records in a PDF format, without labeling or indexing. The Plaintiffs objected, arguing that the documents were not produced in an electronically searchable format, just as they were kept in the usual course of business. The Defendants stated they were granted a one-time download of records into PDF files before their relationship with a third-party payroll processor ended. They further contended that they could no longer demand the information from the former payroll vendor, asserting that what they produced was in a “reasonably usable form” per FRCP 34.

Complex databases; access, custody and control; production format – all of the fixings for a significant discovery dispute.

Many of you know what comes next: protracted motions, multiple hearings with the court, deadline extensions, drawn-out depositions. In fact, in one hearing, the court stated that sometimes “you have to do a little discovery to get discovery” and ordered deposition testimony to get to the bottom of the payroll database issues between the Defendants and their third-party processors.

This “discovery about discovery” set the stage for Judge Browning’s January 3rd Order. In the Order, Judge Browning went deep into the annals of FRCP history, studying the scope of discovery language in Rules 26 and 34 dating back decades. His conclusion? Almost 20 years of FRCP amendments have narrowed the substantive scope of discovery and injected courts deeper into the discovery process.

Towards the amendment drafters, he ridiculed, “Instead of being Aristotelian and trying to draft rules, the 2015 amendment drafters largely opted to make federal judges Plato’s enlightened guardians. They have decided that no single general rule can adequately take into account the infinite number of possible permutations of different claims, defenses, parties, attorneys, resources of parties and attorneys, information asymmetries, amounts in controversy, availabilities of information by other means, and other factors.”

He further expressed his frustration with the role of active judicial discovery management. “They have dropped all discovery disputes into judges’ laps. The drafters have decided that this determination requires the individualized judgment of someone on the scene,” stated Judge Browning.

In discussing the process behind the 2015 FRCP amendment promulgation, Judge Browning hinted at the conservative biases of the drafters, resulting in amendments favoring corporate defendants. Highlighting a New Mexico article from January 2016, he wrote, “The Court shares some of the concerns with the new amendments being pro-business and giving corporations new tools to limit plaintiffs’ discovery.” He went so far as questioning the benefits of the 2015 amendments, writing “…the Court is skeptical that the 2015 amendments will make a considerable difference in limiting discovery or cutting discovery costs.”

In the end, Judge Browning ordered the Defendants to produce the documents in the electronic format requested by the Plaintiffs. However, he also granted a couple of the Defendants’ discovery motions, including a request for a one-week discovery deadline extension. In essence, despite the peevish (but thorough) Order, Judge Browning worked to find a bit of a balancing act between a corporation and the plaintiffs needing access to relevant information.

If there is one thing that this 50+ page order illustrates, it’s this. E-discovery is messy. But, as ACEDS professionals, that’s probably nothing new to you. Difficult discovery scenarios bring out the dark side of both the FRCP and the judges charged with interpreting those rules. Yet, no amount of love for cooperation or proportionality – or any other favorite provisions of the 2015 amendments – can outweigh the reality that the efficacy of some of the rule changes remains to be seen.

TAR Protocol Rules the Roost: In Re Broiler Chicken

It is well established that courts will support parties electing to use technology assisted review (TAR) to identify responsive documents in discovery. However, TAR methodologies and quality control (QC) measures are still very grey for many judges and parties alike. What technologies are most appropriate for identifying the scope of the data universe? How do you sufficiently train the system to properly classify documents? How do you demonstrate that the review method adequately found everything? A new order assists in bringing clarity to this grey space surrounding TAR.

On January 3, 2018, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert and Special Master Maura Grossman released a detailed search protocol in In Re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, a complex, document intensive class action currently pending in the Northern District of Illinois. From deduplication and email threading to sampling and recall, the Order covers an array of topics. And rest assured, Grossman adds in plenty of references to transparency, cooperation, and the importance of regular meet and confers.

This new Order will quickly gain momentum outside of chicken industry lawsuits. In your next e-discovery matter, take heed of the Broiler Chicken search and QC parameters to avoid ending up with egg on your face.

Background of the Case

In September 2016, a food service distributor filed a class action suit on behalf of purchasers of broiler chickens from more than a dozen of the country’s top poultry producers. The action alleged producers conspired to manipulate the supply of chicken to keep prices artificially high, driving up profits.

In February 2017, the plaintiffs filed their first set of requests for production. As foreshadowed by Magistrate Judge Gilbert in a September 2017 discovery order, discovery in this case is likely to be complex and expensive, given 3 putative plaintiff classes, nearly 30 defendants, multiple theories of liability, and conduct covering nearly a decade in a $20-30 billion dollar industry. Perceiving potentially thorny ESI issues, in October 2017, Magistrate Judge Gilbert appointed Special Master Grossman to address and resolve disputes regarding e-discovery. Grossman wasted no time, issuing an Order in January 2018 outlining the document sourcing, search, and validation methods to be used by the parties.

Breakdown of the Order

Grossman begins the Order establishing that the parties will be reasonably transparent regarding the universe of documents collected for search, the search terms utilized, and the processes applied for TAR. Notably, throughout the Order, Grossman refers to this process as “TAR/CAL” (CAL signifying Continuous Active Learning) and never once uses the term “predictive coding.”

Next, the Order addresses culling technologies that will be applied prior to searching. Laying this foundation ensures that processing details are clear, so there are no surprises in identifying the scope of documents selected for searching/TAR. Specifically:

  • De-Duplication: Data should be de-duplicated by hash value across all document custodians.
  • Email Threading: A producing party may choose to only include inclusive emails from a thread, but must disclose this to the receiving party.
  • Email Domains: If a party seeks to eliminate domains from a search, it will produce a list of those domain names to the opposing party.
  • Targeted Collections: Documents that are not going to be searched should not be used for search term testing.
  • Exception Reporting: The producing party must disclose processing exceptions.
  • Other Culling: The producing party must disclose other culling parameters if used.

The second section of the Order addresses search methods, dissecting this topic into two areas: TAR/CAL searching and keyword searching. If using TAR, Grossman requires the producing party to disclose the name of the software and vendor, how training will work, what categories of documents will be included and excluded, and what quality control measures will be taken. Similarly, the producing party must disclose comparable details about selected keyword search terms, including stop words, case sensitivity, metadata field searching, synonym searching, and misspellings, to name a few. In developing the processes for TAR and keyword searching, Grossman expects the parties to cooperate and work together in good faith to resolve any differences.

The third section of the Order is devoted to a document review validation protocol, which applies no matter TAR or “exhaustive manual review” is used. In detail, a QC sample is created, consisting of 500 responsive documents, 500 non-responsive documents as coded by a human reviewer, and 2,000 unreviewed documents as the result of TAR. These documents are combined into a blind validation set to be reviewed by a human subject matter expert (SME) in the case. From there, a table of each document and its coding will be prepared and provided to the receiving party and Special Master Grossman. The producing party must also provide copy of each responsive, non-produced document found in the sample, along with recall statistics. At this point, parties must meet and confer about the recall estimate, and the quantity and nature of the responsive documents identified through the sampling process to determine if the review is substantially complete. Grossman strongly warned parties about turning to the recall estimate percentage as the sole indicator of an adequate review. Obviously, if there is a dispute, Special Master Grossman can intercede.

Implications for E-Discovery Professionals

If there were any questions about the complexity of e-discovery, this Order lays those doubts to rest. In the coming days and months, this Order will likely be examined at length across our community, but here are three brief takeaways.

  1. E-Discovery does not occur in the dark. The sheer number of times that Grossman mentions meet and confers, cooperation, and transparency is awakening. Make friends with your opposing counsel and their e-discovery team because you will be talking to them regularly.
  2. TAR and keyword searching work together in tandem. Nowhere in the Order did Grossman mention either searching or TAR. It’s almost assumed that parties are using both these tools to their fullest capacities. Moreover, Broiler Chicken is not an outlier in requiring parties to leverage keyword searching and TAR. Recently, Judge Katherine Parker, in Winfield v. City of New York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194413 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017), encouraged the parties to go beyond mere keyword searching, especially when the parties cannot agree on search terms, and also utilize TAR. As e-discovery aficionado, Ralph Losey, explains, “The Broiler Chicken protocol urges parties to use what I call a ‘multimodal’ approach where human intelligence is paired with multiple technologies in forming a legal search. Parties should not rely on a single method.” In sum, savvy parties will know how to harmonize all the e-discovery tools available at their fingertips.
  3. Get smart on sampling and recall. Perhaps the clearest theme from this Order is the importance of validation. If a myriad of technologies are used to identify responsive documents, then QC is key. Parties better have someone on their e-discovery team that understands math more than just a little and is prepared to have meaningful discussions about recall to demonstrate that the search and review protocol was adequate.

Top 10 List: ACEDS Highlights from #LegalWeek18

Each January, thousands of legal technologists gather in New York City to learn from peers, network with old and new colleagues, and let their hair down. Yes, another Legalweek (aka Legaltech) is behind us, and the ACEDS community was there for every step of the education and camaraderie.

Whether you attended the conference or stayed back home, the Twitter posts helped ensure we didn’t miss a beat. Below is a top ten list of memorable ACEDS moments (and tweets) from #Legalweek18. Enjoy!

10.  The best swag: selfie lights. Kudos to the lucky few who snagged a selfie light, which ACEDS was handing out as its tradeshow swag this year. Who knew there was such thing as a selfie light?

9. #eDiscoveryRockstar selfies. Legalweek #eDiscoveryRockstar selfies were all the rage across the ACEDS community, and Kaylee Walstad, ACEDS Director of Strategic Partnerships, captured dozens of tradeshow attendees as they walked the exhibitor floor.

8.  ACEDS around the world. Jan Scholtes and Annelore van der Lint from ZyLAB joined the Legalweek festivities, travelling from the Netherlands to represent the new ACEDS Benelux chapter. Jan and Annelore are two members of the Benelux ACEDS chapter board which is leading the first professional e-discovery community in the region.

7. Chapter bonding, New York style. New York ACEDS members gathered for a chapter “meet and greet” as this chapter, and many others across the world, plan to increase activities in 2018.

6. Bloggers unite. Legal tech writers amassed for a bloggers lunch sponsored by Relativity and hosted by ACEDS. For many attendees (including myself), it was a chance to meet the faces behind the articles that show up in our inboxes each week.

5. Merriment with Doug and Mary. Good food, fine drinks, and wonderful company. What more is needed after a long day of sessions? Doug Austin of CloudNine and ACEDS Executive Director Mary Mack were happy to accommodate anyone that made it over for happy hour at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

4. Education. Education. Education. Top-notch speakers with interesting commentary. Don’t miss a full recording of the session, “From AI to e-Discovery: Innovation in Legal and Technology Education” featuring David Horrigan, Relativity, Honorable Xavier Rodriguez, US District Judge (W.D. Tex.), Mary Mack, ACEDS, Daniel Martin Katz, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, William Hamilton, University of Florida Levin College of Law, and Laura Norris, Santa Clara University School of Law.

3. Back to the Future. ACEDS partnered with Thomson Reuters to host a judicial panel the night before Legalweek kicked off. ALM’s Rhys Dipshan summarized the panelists’ candid dialogue, “Federal Judges: FRCP, Digital Evidence Laws Have Long Way to Go.”

2. New CEDS members join the community. Certification is the best way to validate your e-discovery skills. New CEDS members showed up in full-force at Legalweek, proudly touting their freshly earned credentials. If you didn’t get your certification in time, make a 2018 resolution to get your CEDS.

1. Start planning for next year. Mark your calendars for #Legalweek19, January 29-31, 2019. ACEDS hopes to see you there!

Keep the conversation going.  Join ACEDS for a TwitterChat on Friday, February 9th at 1pm EST. Use the hashtag #ACEDSTC to share pictures and stories from Legalweek18.