ACEDS Organizational Announcement from Steve Fredette, BARBRI Group CEO

Dear ACEDS Partner,

I am reaching out to you today regarding some upcoming organizational changes at ACEDS. If we’ve not met, I’m Steve Fredette, CEO of the BARBRI Group, the ACEDS parent organization.

I wanted to write you personally and let you know that our exemplary Executive Director, Mary Mack, has decided to step down from her position as of October 31, 2019. In addition, Kaylee Walstad, Vice President of Client Engagement, who has been a valuable contributor and client relationship builder, not to mention a great partner for Mary, will also be departing at the same time.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mary for several years now and have been continually impressed with her leadership and advocacy in the legal technology field. As you know, she is an eDiscovery pioneer who has worked tirelessly to transform ACEDS into the global community of committed, like-minded eDiscovery professionals it is today. Thanks to Mary’s efforts, you, as practitioners, have an international community where the exchange of best practices, training, professional development and networking thrives. ACEDS is an established resource for connecting people, fostering community and enhancing careers. I appreciate and thank Mary for her stellar efforts and the success we collectively enjoy today.

As we move forward, I want to reiterate our commitment to serving your eDiscovery community and fostering its growth. I am pleased that we have time to put in place new leadership and manage a proper transition, all while the entire ACEDS team will continue its work and move forward in building upon Mary’s good work.

We will be conducting our search immediately and will make an announcement once new leadership comes on board. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Thank you for your support of ACEDS and I know you’ll join me in thanking Mary and Kaylee for their dedication and service and wishing them the very best as they move on to a new chapter.

 

Sincerely,

Stephen J. Fredette

Stephen.fredette@barbri.com
214.932.0913

Invisible Data Can Sink Your Titanic

Unpleasant news about sensitive data leaks are making big headlines these days. Paul Manafort’s attorneys just created one after a failed attempt to redact sensitive information in a recent filing. In this case, there was no breach or exploit. There were no hackers or foreign agents. There wasn’t even any malicious intent—just a lack of understanding about technology.

The attorneys attempted to redact information from a document filed in response to a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office. Instead, they simply created layers of black highlights over the sensitive text, not actually sanitizing any of the information. It wasn’t long before Jon Swaine, a reporter for The Guardian, copy and pasted the information from the produced PDF and discovered the sensitive information hiding under the highlights. He did what anyone today would do with bombshell information like this—he put it on Twitter! Unfortunately for Manafort, the not-so-redacted information reveals contradictory and problematic details for his defense. To compound the problem, there appear to be previously unreported details about Manafort’s actions causing the media to have a field day and creating new problems for Manafort and his attorneys.

Regardless of who was involved here, the invisible information was the culprit in this event. The creator of the invisible information, the producing party itself, was apparently unaware of its presence. This problem would have been easily avoided by asking a technology expert how to properly redact PDF files or by simply using the right tools and appropriate method for the job.

Much like the iceberg that sank the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic where the invisible, underwater, portion of the iceberg doomed the voyage, Manafort and his case team were sunk by what they could not see.

Invisible information is ample in electronic files, and PDF and Spreadsheet files are particularly known for their complexities. For instance, you can partially hide data, password protect data, or reference data and even other documents from external resources. There are a number of features in these applications that streamline business operations but make redactions difficult and risky.

Often, the tool used to create a piece of information is not necessarily the best tool to destroy the information. Both Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Excel are excellent tools to create and view PDF and Spreadsheet documents, but they are not primarily designed to redact documents. Although they support information removal, they are still not the best tools to redact documents for legal purposes.

So, what are the best tools to use for redacting documents? Well, that depends on what type of documents you have and how many… and how much time you have and your budget and whether you have a document review platform and what you plan to do with the documents, for starters. It’s a lot to consider, we know. That’s why our best advice is to build a good team of partners and experts who really understand the technology that’s important to your practice. A great team of experts work together to uncover the invisible and avoid the icebergs altogether. If Paul Manafort and his attorneys had leveraged the appropriate technology experts and the right software for the job, they would probably not be underwater.

Mary Mack with the Inside Scoop on Nuix and Ringtail

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you must know by now that Nuix (www.nuix.com), a security, risk, and compliance software company, acquired the Ringtail eDiscovery software business from FTI Consulting for $55 million USD. Nuix, known for its strength in its processing engine combined with the powerful review and automation capabilities of Ringtail, promises to be a true end-to-end eDiscovery platform.

Mary Mack, Executive Director of ACEDS, (who also happened to work with Ringtail from 2003 to 2010) spoke with Andrew Nester, Head of Marketing, Stephen Stewart, CTO, and Rod Vawdrey, CEO and first asked the obvious, “Why Ringtail?” The quick response makes perfect sense. Ringtail already has Nuix integrated into its platform and furthermore, Ringtail was a long-time client.  Therefore, it’s pretty much a plug and play solution. There is no development time needed for the two pieces to talk to each other…it’s already there.  Users can simply sign on and go! Imagine, end-to-end seamless integration with increased speed along with the visual analytics acquired from Attenix. Besides, many Ringtail customers are already on the Nuix processing platform so it will be a particularly smooth transition for them.

FTI is one of Nuix’s oldest partners and will continue to be a premiere partner.  Nuix’s main majority of revenue flows through their partner channel which is large and established.

With the purchase of Ringtail, Nuix has more than 2,000 customers in over 70 countries and more than 550 employees across the world. Ringtail has 50,000 users around the globe. The good news is no one loses their job as everyone at Ringtail will be hired at Nuix – that’s about 80 employees. Mary was especially pleased to hear that Bill Adams, Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting and Head of Ringtail, will be joining Nuix as well. Bill has been a leader with FTI for more than 20 years.  Mary said, “Bill Adams is one of the few attorneys who is hands on creating and applying enterprise technology—and who is also welcome to sit with the trial attorneys in bet the company cases.” That’s great to hear.

When asked about the specifics of the purchase, Rod mentioned three key facts:

  1. Customers have been looking for an alternative enterprise platform choice
  2. The current drive to the cloud, which of course allows for easier scalability and multi-tenant capabilities and
  3. Users wanted a simpler user interface which Ringtail was able to provide.

Rod Vawdrey, CEO, stated, “We think this is a clear win as a full end-to-end eDiscovery platform. We also love the fact that two Australian companies have come together to provide such a great service to the eDiscovery community. Nuix’s acquisition of Ringtail was truly part of a strategic plan due to market changes and consolidation and hearing what the market was asking for.” Rod also said, “Corporations, governments, and legal service providers who depend on Total Data Intelligence from Nuix will be further empowered to simplify, de-risk, and speed up eDiscovery without compromise.”

The air was full of excitement as the three gentlemen went on to discuss the purchase. They definitely indicated that in this case 1+1 equaled MORE THAN 2. It was great to hear the passion they expressed regarding the purchase. Stephen Stewart, CTO of Nuix, reiterated that, “The longstanding relationship with Ringtail has enabled them to launch immediately and users will be able to take advantage of the already-deep integration between the two platforms, which is the result of a long-term partnership between the two vendors.” He also stated it was great to be flying under the same banner.

From today forward, customers can obtain Ringtail from Nuix’s global partner network or from Nuix as on-premises software or a hosted service.

ACEDS wishes much luck to Nuix and thanks them for their time to speak with us about the acquisition.

The Internet-of-Things May Be New, But the Legal Processes Remain the Same

Just when eDiscovery specialists have gotten a handle on the more common forms of Electronically Stored Information (ESI), and have begun adapting to the newer data types such as cloud and app based messaging platforms, along comes the Internet-of-Things.

One might ask, “What things?” Hasn’t the internet always been about things? Well in this case, ESI isn’t created by traditional (or more recent for that matter) devices such as a desktop or laptop computer, smartphone or tablet, but instead is created by a “thing” – refrigerators, cars, Fitbits, home management devices, doorbells, you name it. All of these can now create data which can be used as evidence during litigation.

Tom O’Connor, Director, Gulf Coast Legal Tech Center, recently wrote an article for Advanced Discovery about how the IoT is affecting the eDiscovery landscape. In it, he gives a brief history of the Internet of Things as related to the legal world, and through that we see that it’s actually been lurking around for almost a decade, but not until more recently are eDiscovery teams getting on board with the need to preserve, collect, and review this type of data. For example, Tom mentions how the data from an airbag was used during a trial regarding a car accident in the British courts back in 2008. And in 2011 in Massachusetts, another car’s “black box” data was used in court.

More recently, when writing for our affiliate, Exterro, I’ve addressed different murder cases – one where the data from a victim’s FitBit was used; in the other case, data was requested from the home’s Amazon Echo to see if it had recording anything during the time of the murder (ACEDS addressed the Alexa case in Canada and Craig Ball exposed the data collected by this talkative IOT device). And on the civil side of litigation, there was the case where the Boston Red Sox were caught using Apple watches to steal signs from the Yankees.

So how can legal teams prepare for this? Tom O’Connor suggests five steps:

  • Know the Facts
  • Know the People
  • Make Early Case Analysis Part of Every Case
  • Validate Current Data from Past Results
  • Collaborate

As Tom states, “Engaging in these five steps will enable litigators to collect all the necessary information to evaluate exposure, assess risk, make recommendations to clients, and set case strategies, including a budget and possible settlement options.”

New data types are always changing, but the processes remain the same. This is where continued legal technology training becomes useful. Someone who knows the law and the steps that need to be taken during Someone who knows the law and the steps that need to be taken during discovery — the most expensive and time-consuming part of litigation — as well as understands the different types of ESI and how they can be collected, is going to be successful in eDiscovery.

Bringing E-Discovery In-House Makes Perfect Sense! (But Only If You Invest In Training and Tools)

People like doing things themselves: it gives them more control on timelines, outcomes, and costs. And if you can get that without sacrificing quality, then it’s a no brainer. But a successful DIY project takes more than just saying, “I can do that!” For me, a great example of this is when, several years ago, I converted an attached garage in my house to four new rooms, including a second bathroom. I’d had experience framing, working with drywall, and wiring, and felt confident in taking care of those things. I’d also done a little plumbing, but honestly it was not my favorite undertaking. So, I told myself, I’ll do everything but the plumbing. But as I was working, I kept thinking, I don’t want to deal with finding a contractor, scheduling the time to do it, and paying someone for something I knew I could do myself if I just took the time to study the processes and get the proper tools.

So that’s what I did, and when everything was finally in place – it didn’t work perfectly; but, after sticking with it, reviewing the steps and making a few adjustments and tweaks, it did.

A similar thing has been happening in the past few years in eDiscovery – more and more corporate legal teams are bringing services in house. But the reality of this undertaking becomes clearer as more and more people do it, which is evidenced by the 2017 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report, sponsored by EDRM/Duke Law,Exterro, and BDO.

Legal Teams Are Happy Bringing Things In-House

According to the benchmarking report’s results, over the past year, more than a third of respondents increased the amount of litigation services they did themselves. And when asked why, they most frequently responded that it was because they had built or expanded internal capacity, as well as acquired better software solutions, which allowed them to save money.

Technology!

When it comes to the technology being used by in-house legal teams, 46% of respondents use matter management software, 40% spreadsheets, 40% email, 25% legal project management software, and 11% generic project management software. Of those who responded to this question, 52% used just one of these approaches. 31% use two approaches, 12% use three, and just 5% use four different sets of tools.

Things Keep Changing

But as with all trends, this one won’t stay for long. In the next two years, 54% anticipate they will be using matter management software, 38% expect to be using legal project management software (a marked rise in this category from last year), spreadsheets will drop to 32% as will email, and generic project management software will hold on to last place with 12%.

Future Trends

Even with all of these changes, there is still work to be done: when asked to rank challenges managing legal and e-discovery projects, respondents ranked controlling costs as the biggest challenge, followed by completing tasks efficiently, visibility into the status of legal projects, and ensuring a defensible process.

George Socha’s Take

As George Socha, Esq., Co-Founder of EDRM and Managing Director at BDO, states in his executive summary of the report, “Litigation services have come in-house, with the majority of respondents reporting they do over half their litigation work themselves. Generally, corporations are satisfied with the quality of work done internally, more so than with the work done by outsiders. For now, they are doing a lot with a little. They tend to deploy fairly small, dedicated workforces, ranging from a single person to maybe half a dozen people or more, but those people (along with other employees) tackle a lot….”

Conclusion

I think the focus on those “small dedicated workforces” is a key element to this, and really is part of the larger debate in the legal community – how do we do more for less? Of course, this is a discussion that’s been happening across areas of commerce, business, and government since the industrial revolution. As technology becomes more advanced, the need for highly trained professionals who know how to leverage that technology grows. Technology alone doesn’t solve problems. Neither does throwing more personnel into the fray without properly training them. And there’s no better example of this mix of emerging technology and specialized personnel than in eDiscovery.

So train up! If I can install a bathroom from scratch, then just think what a well-trained eDiscovery team can accomplish!