Get to Know Adam Strayer of Kroll Ontrack’s Ediscovery Consulting Group

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A specialized field such as ediscovery produces a specialized workforce. Today, ediscovery consultants play a critical role in guiding clients through the complicated process of electronic discovery. Here at Kroll Ontrack, we are lucky enough to have some of the most seasoned and knowledgeable consultants. To get to know a little more about ediscovery consulting, we’re getting to know one of Kroll Ontrack’s very own consultants, Adam Strayer.

Q: Why should law firms and corporations use ediscovery consultants?

A: Ediscovery consultants have a wealth of experience with a wider variety of cases and have encountered more challenges and employed more ediscovery solutions than most law firms or in-house counsel. Further, a large ediscovery project can overwhelm even the most robust litigation support or in-house legal department and can drain resources from other cases and other clients.

Q: Tell us about your background and what led you to becoming an ediscovery consultant.

A: Before working as an ediscovery consultant, I was an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where I reviewed proposed mergers and investigated anticompetitive conduct. While there, I drafted and negotiated a number of Second Requests and gained a lot of insight into federal agency document requests.  That was a great foundation for what I am doing today—helping Kroll Ontrack’s clients develop strategies for responding to similar requests. I’ve also worked on the private practice side, defending companies in antitrust investigations and helping them respond to Second Requests and similarly large data requests in commercial litigation. After these roles, I moved into the ediscovery service provider world, where I worked on the managed review side—designing workflows, driving strategy timelines and responses, and meeting production deadline goals.

Q: What types of services do ediscovery consultants provide to a client?

A: Consultants have seen ediscovery solutions that have worked for other clients, as well as the solutions that haven’t worked. Specifically, we can assist with everything on the EDRM, from identifying and collecting key documents to custodian interviews and review and production strategies. Ediscovery consultants are also particularly helpful in developing predictive coding workflows and discovery stipulations.

Q: What value does an ediscovery consulting team bring to a client?

A: On a substance level, and as I’ve said before, consultants bring an assemblage of experiences that law firms and in-house counsel rarely possess. What that means for clients at the end of the day—cost savings and risk mitigation.

Q: Since we’re getting to know your work, it would be great to get to know a little about you. What is your ideal day outside of the office?

A: I live in Brooklyn Heights, just across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, but I really like to escape from the city as often as possible. This past summer, I spent a lot of time hiking in upstate New York and in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’m also currently training for my first marathon.

Thank you Adam for sitting down with us and giving us some great insight into the world of ediscovery consulting!

Where in the World is Ediscovery?

where in the world is ediscovery

 

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”

That was the question for thousands of kids in the 80’s and 90’s as they searched the digital globe for the sneakiest villains in the computer game industry. Their goal was to locate and arrest Carmen and her partners-in-crime in some of the most exotic, international locations.

As an ediscovery professional working for a global legal technology provider, I often ask myself, “Where in the world is my ediscovery project?” Though I am not tracking cyber-villains, my goal is to solve various international ediscovery challenges and knowing where the project and data are located is critical.

In a recent article I co-authored, “The Complex Challenges of Cross Border Ediscovery Management”, appearing in Today’s General Counsel, my London-based colleague, Daniel Kavan, and I discussed the many complex challenges associated with international ediscovery. Below, I will touch on some of them and explain why the best practice for international ediscovery management is using a knowledgeable, global provider to help.

Global Ediscovery Differences

Ediscovery is approached differently in almost every country and these global differences are often overlooked. Knowing the country’s approach to ediscovery is integral to ensuring that the project goes smoothly. Additionally, simple logistical factors like time zones, for example, can be easily forgotten. If not taken into account in the beginning, logistical costs can add up quickly. These projects can take four to six weeks to complete and extra staffing to accommodate the time difference may need to take place.  Addressing these issues early can help make the project run smoother.

Local, Regional, and National Regulations

Even more crucial to an ediscovery project are local, regional, and national regulations. Regulations are emerging to be one of biggest challenges that global ediscovery projects managers have to consider. Most ediscovery professionals are aware of the European Union’s data privacy regulations. However, less known but equally important are the EU state regulations that need to be considered when managing an ediscovery project. Also, on the other side of the globe, new regulations are beginning to emerge in Tokyo, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and other areas in the region. Navigating these regulations is not an easy process so make sure to bring the appropriate resources to the table.

Language and Cultural Differences

Another challenge that global ediscovery project managers face are language and cultural differences. Simple intonation of a word or emphasis on a syllable can mean something completely different in another language. Similarly, a Western gesture can be offensive to someone of another culture. Having a person with knowledge of these differences can ease the ediscovery process and help establish collaboration of the team and also of the opposing party.

Partner with a Global Ediscovery Provider

Knowing these challenges and how to address them, can save your cross-border ediscovery project. The fact that Kroll Ontrack is a global company, with numerous data centers all over the world – U.S., U.K., Japan, and a new data center in Germany – helps ease my client’s mind when I take on an international ediscovery case. With the help of Kroll Ontrack’s global presence and worldwide knowledge, I can work to avoid many of the issues other global ediscovery project managers face.

Back to (Law) School: Ediscovery Education by the Numbers

ediscovery education

Ediscovery Pop Quiz!

Question: What do you get when you add the number of law schools with the number of ediscovery classes offered and then divide by the number of students who enroll in these classes?

Answer: A pretty small number.

How do Law Schools Rate in Training Future Lawyers about Ediscovery?

The day after Labor Day highlights an important date in the calendar year: back to school! Whether you are starting kindergarten, high school, college, or law school, in September it’s time to buckle down and hit the books.

Over the years, Kroll Ontrack has had the opportunity to partner with an assortment of law schools, assisting in their ediscovery education efforts. However, with the start of a new school year, it is pertinent to ask: How are law schools generally doing when it comes to training future lawyers about ediscovery?

Kroll Ontrack recently examined 193 law schools’ course offerings, available on their websites, to determine whether they offered an ediscovery course or seminar, and if so, whether it targeted students, attorneys, or paralegals, and if it offered a technology component as part of the teachings. Our findings: of the 193 schools, 124 offer no ediscovery curricula beyond perhaps a few brief mentions in Civil Procedure.

Is Your Law School ahead of the Ediscovery Education Curve?

Now we don’t want to go so far as to call them “gunners,” but of the law schools surveyed, 69 or 35% are ahead of the curve and offer a course or seminar on ediscovery. Classes include such topics as: discussions of Zubulake, the Ediscovery Reference Model (EDRM), preservation and spoliation issues, and the recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Much of the material differs from school to school, as some offer a basic one credit “overview course” to help future attorneys spot ediscovery issues, while some offer three credit “skills courses” that tackle searching protocols, predictive coding, and technology platforms. Another noteworthy observation: ediscovery classes are offered irregularly, not every semester or every year, and the varying levels of instruction lacks standardization across schools, making it difficult for students to evaluate and compare ediscovery curriculum across schools.

Got Ediscovery Technology?

In addition to the case law and rules, gaining a practical knowledge of ediscovery is now essential to the modern practice of law. Actual hands-on use of these technologies is critical, and of the 35% of schools that offer a course or seminar on ediscovery, 8 offer a simulated technology component.

Students, not just schools, are realizing that ediscovery skills are marketable as a speciality in their future careers as modern attorneys. Law schools don’t have to make students experts in ediscovery technology, but have the opportunity to teach students to be proficient in basic technology concepts to be able to competently communicate with a client’s IT staff or an ediscovery provider. Furthermore, for the large number of practicing attorneys without an in-depth knowledge of ediscovery practices, 4 of the schools that offer an ediscovery class have programs beyond students for attorneys and paralegals. Technology is always evolving, and modern attorneys, paralegals, and litigation support staff seek to keep up to date with current technologies to best serve their clients.

To see how law schools are approaching the topic of ediscovery, check out Kroll Ontrack’s new “Ediscovery Education” infographic.

The Polls Are Now Open for the LegalTimes “Best Of” Awards

national law journal

From now until September 19th LegalTimes will be accepting votes for its annual “Best Of” survey. It’s designed to be a forum for end-users to rate the products and services they use in litigation.

Please take the time to vote today.  You don’t need to subscribe to LegalTimes to vote.

I can tell you from personal experience that getting aggregate feedback from the people who actually purchase and use legal technology solutions is not an easy task. Moreover, the by-product will be extremely valuable to your colleagues who are just now evaluating how to approach litigation with modern technology.

It is incredibly humbling that Kroll Ontrack has been nominated in the following categories:

  • Best end-to-end ediscovery provider
  • Best predictive coding ediscovery solution
  • Best data and technology management ediscovery provider
  • Best managed document review services
  • Best online review platform
  • Best end-to-end litigation consulting firm

To our wonderful readers with the time and experience required to cast a ballot, THANK YOU!  The survey is long but you do not have to answer every question. Once again, here is the link to the LegalTimes survey.  Polls are open until September 19th.

Top 10 ILTA 2014 Moments

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ILTA’s 2014 “Imagine” conference is in the books, and, if you’re like me, you probably needed this week to recover. Below is my top 10 list of memorable moments in Nashville, Tennessee last week.

10: The best swag: robot pens. Once again this year, Kroll Ontrack handed out ediscovery.com robot pens. Everyone loves a good robot pen!

9: The after-parties. Good food, fine drinks and wonderful music in Music City. Great way to reconnect with old friends.

8: Prizes! Cameras and speakers and tablets, oh my! Congrats to all attendees that took home prizes in vendor bingo, daily drawings and the money machine.

7: The ILTA fun-run. About 50+ attendees enjoyed a sweaty 3.2 mile run on Monday morning. I spent my time near the back of the pack with these lovely ladies.

6: Grand Ole Opry show featuring Carrie Underwood. An unnamed informant even reported seeing Judge Peck taking in some down-home country music at the Opry (conveniently located steps from the conference hotel).

5: Technology demos. Kroll Ontrack enjoyed some great conversations about ediscovery.com with ILTA attendees.

4: Powerful Keynotes. “Technology is a resource-liberating force” – Peter Diamandis; “It’s a mad, mad, mad world…” – Rod Beckstrom.

3: Education. Education. Education. Top-notch speakers with interesting commentary. Legal process, document management, cloud, ediscovery, knowledge management, dashboards, disruptive technology, security, time, billing, search, machine learning, innovation, spearfishing, information governance, cyberhacking, …the future of law.

2: And the award goes to…ILTA’s Distinguished Peer Awards – our industry’s version of the Emmys.

1: Comic-con Vendor Expo. Who doesn’t love seeing friends and colleagues dressed up as Superman and Wonder Woman? Check out Kroll Ontrack’s ILTA video, where we asked party attendees what makes them an ediscovery superhero.

See you next year in Las Vegas, August 30th – September 3rd, 2015!

August 2014 Ediscovery Case Summaries

ediscovery case studies

Though Destruction of Evidence was Egregious, Lesser Sanctions Ordered
Hawley v. Mphasis Corp., 2014 WL 3610946 (S.D.N.Y. July 22, 2014).

“Less Accessible” Information Leads to Spoliation Sanctions
Mazzei v. Money Store, 2014 WL 3610894 (S.D. N.Y. July 21, 2014).

Circuit Court Finds Failure to Provide Sufficient Evidence, Affirms Denial of Sanctions
Automated Solutions Corp. v. Paragon Data Sys., Inc., 2014 WL 2869286 (6th Cir. June 25, 2014).

Court Allows Plaintiff to “Switch Horses in Midstream” and Use Predictive Coding
Bridgestone Americas Inc. v. Int’l Bus. Mach. Corp., No. 3:13-1196, 2014 BL 202049 (M.D. Tenn. July 22, 2014).

Court Affirms Taxation of Costs; Says Plaintiff Presents a “Bad Argument”
Wis. Res. Prot. Coun. v. Flambeau Mining Co., 2014 WL 3810884 (W.D. Wis. Aug. 1, 2014)

Tribute: What Ediscovery Legends Are Made Of

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Too many times this year, I sit at my desk with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Upon learning of Browning Marean’s passing over the weekend, all I can think is another ediscovery pioneer gone too soon. 

The ediscovery community is just that – a community. Whether you wear the hat of lawyer or client, vendor or consultant, litsupport or technologist, commentator or marketer, we all are connected by the same goals and ideals. And that is the reason why when one of our ediscovery family leaves us too soon, we all take a moment of pause. This year, sadly, we have had too many moments of pause.

My road with Browning goes back to the dark ages, to my early days both as a lawyer and ediscovery enthusiast. Long before the Zubulake opinions or 2006 FRCP amendments, Browning was one of the early advocates for legal technologies. He and a few other forbearers were headliners for a series of cross-country educational events sponsored by Kroll Ontrack. Like many of my former and current Kroll Ontrack colleagues, I am humbled to have had the chance to observe and learn from him, as we traveled from coast-to-coast evangelizing about this “new fangled” practice called ediscovery. As the years ticked by, it was a delight to visit with him at tradeshows and CLEs; Browning always genuinely showing interest in Kroll Ontrack’s newest offerings and my own personal pursuits. He touched so many in our community, it’s no wonder that within hours upon his passing, tributes, more tributes, and picture memorials abounded the ediscovery blog-o-sphere.

This trailblazer leaves big shoes to fill, sparking passion and inspiration to those of us left carrying the torches. Browning, I am certain somewhere you are convening one heck of a meet and confer.

#ILTA14: Grand Ole Technology and the Grand Ole Opry – Mid-Week Highlights

ILTA

With record setting attendance (including representatives from 15 countries outside the US) and more than 200 educational sessions (including 400 speakers), once again, the annual ILTA conference is abuzz. This show, unlike any other, focuses on education, and this conference, unlike any other, offers a deep dive into the practicalities of law firm technology. Wandering the halls of the massive Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, you will hear the 3,000+ attendees talking about the same themes:

Legal process, document management, cloud, ediscovery, knowledge management, dashboards, disruptive technology, security, time, billing, search, machine learning, innovation, spearfishing, information governance, cyberhacking, …the future of law.

Not in Nashville this week? Perhaps more than any other year, these themes have permeated the social realm. Track all the tweets and vines with these hashtags: #ILTA, #ILTA14, #ILTAConf. In the first 24 hours of the show, there were more than 2,292 tweets from 552 contributors!  Check out the hashtracking for Day 1 of ILTA.

In addition, ILTA members, consultants and exhibitors also know how to have some fun – perhaps more exuberance than any other legal tradeshow of the year. How many other tradeshows have a Comic-con themed party where you can see attendees costumed as Wonder Woman or clad in nothing but Superman underwear? I promise these ILTA photos captured by one veteran attendee don’t disappoint!

Of course Kroll Ontrack partook in these entertaining festivities as well. On Monday night during Comic-con, we all dressed up like ediscovery superheros and our guests were able to win great prizes from our money machine at the Kroll Ontrack booth – all while enjoying our simultaneous cocktail party. Also, throughout the show, Kroll’s hot ticket items – and coolest things around – have been our robot pens. Attendees stop by the booth to check out the latest demos of ediscovery.com products but cannot seem to leave without first collecting a pen – good thing we ordered extra!

If all this ILTA 2014 excitement isn’t enough, attendees could take in the sights and sounds of Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry is steps away from the convention center, and Carrie Underwood, Trace Adkins, and other country music superstars did not disappoint ILTA attendees that wandered over for an evening concert.  All this excitement and the conference is only at its mid-point! With two days left, there are sure to be more highlights to come. Check out theediscoveryblog.com next week for a blog containing a full wrap of all the best parts of the show!

Predictive Coding’s Ripple Effect

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There’s always a new video going viral. The best ones are often talked about over the office water-cooler, making the participants overnight sensations. Consider 5-year-old Noah Ritter of Pennsylvania. He was merely interested in the super slide at his county fair, but when a local news crew asked him how the ride was, his adorable interview immediately went viral, garnering more than 3 million views on YouTube. That single video sent a ripple effect through the internet (and likely his personal life), and his interview was featured in articles and news outlets as far away as India and earned him a spot on Good Morning America. And now, for the crème de la crème, his name even graces this fine blog.

This ripple effect of popularity got me thinking about predictive coding (no surprise there). Predictive coding certainly made a splash when the first Federal court approved its use in litigation in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe. But since then, savvy practitioners have seen predictive coding as more than a discovery tool and have devised new uses for this powerful technology. The idea of incorporating machine learning and predictive coding into everyday business tasks is not far-fetched. This ripple effect of predictive coding can be seen in many areas, but there are three specific areas where the ripple effect will likely soon be a wave.

First, early use of predictive coding can be used to narrow the scope of discovery and refine the precision of collection. In addition, using predictive coding in this way can effect settlement. Incorporating predictive coding into EDA creates value that at least one court has already recognized.

Second, predictive coding can be used as a compliance tool.  Predictive coding is a natural way to assess and detect risk patterns, and stop them from developing further. Therefore, predictive coding software could be trained to comb through all of an organization’s information to detect potential risks and enable counsel to take immediate corrective action.

Finally, predictive coding can be used to combat the trials of information governance. Predictive coding can be and should be implemented in record retention policies. Predictive coding can identify which documents should be kept – and those that can be defensibly deleted. As more and more businesses become bogged down by big data, a smarter, more automated approach to record retention will be the future of information governance.

For more information concerning these “ripples” of predictive coding, check out Kroll Ontrack’s latest infographic, The Predictive Coding Ripple effect.

Information Governance, After-Glow Parties, and Honky-Tonks: Get Ready, ILTA 2014 is Almost Here

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What town is the home of Maxwell House Coffee, holds the tallest indoor sculpture in the Western world (standing a mere 42 feet tall), and – this one pretty much gives it away – has the highest concentration of guitar pickers on earth? That would be Nashville, Tennessee! Nashville not only boasts these fun facts but also has streets lined with honky-tonks, is a foodie’s haven, and is Hollywood A-lister’s weekend getaway destination.

So what does Nashville have to do with ediscovery? Nashville is hosting the 2014 International Legal Technology Association conference – or more commonly known as the ILTA conference. With the conference right around the corner, the following will give you a preview of what to expect at the weeklong, action-packed event.

Things Not to Miss

ILTA offers a wide breadth of educational session topics and events that truly set it apart from other legal technology conferences. With a little over 3,000 attendees – a relatively small number for this type of forum – ILTA is still able to offer more than 200 topic areas that are relevant to the legal technology industry. It is important to map out your schedule early to make sure you catch the hottest sessions being offered. Make sure to not miss the sessions targeting ESI protocol, ediscovery vendor relationships and information governance. These areas only scratch the surface of the wide range of topics covered. For a full list, check out ILTA’s session grid. The sessions are great but, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the conference is all of the fun events that are offered. Don’t miss the golf tournament, fun run, Comic-Con event, tailgate party or After-Glow parties. You’ll be sure to have a great time when attending!

Stop by to say “Howdy” at Kroll Ontrack’s Booth

Also, don’t forget to stop by the Kroll Ontrack booth located at 400/402. On Monday night, during the Comic-Con event, we will be throwing a cocktail party from 7-9pm. The party will include a money machine in Kroll Ontrack’s booth, with plenty of opportunities to win awesome prizes and of course some great cocktails. The best part about the event is that Kroll Ontrack staff will be dressing up like ediscovery superheros, so we hope that you’ll dress up as well and learn how Kroll Ontrack can be your superhero for all your ediscovery projects. Throughout the entire run of ILTA, the booth will be offering demonstrations of our products. Stop by the booth or pre-register online to see a demo of Relativity or our ediscovery.com solutions.

ILTA will run from August 17-21 at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. For more details on the conference, check out ILTA’s website. Registration is still open but space is limited. We hope to see you there! Also, stay tuned to theediscoveryblog.com and follow Kroll Ontrack on Twitter or Facebook for more LIVE updates from the conference and all the latest in ediscovery.

 
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