Going to CEIC 2012? Ping me for a free Lightgrep trial!

I’m proud to announce that our company, Lightbox Technologies, will be launching Lightgrep Search for EnCase just in time for CEIC. We’ll have free thumb drives with trial versions of Lightgrep on them, so please come find us. Be sure to follow us or ping us on Twitter while you’re there! You can reach me at @geoff_black and Jon at @codeslack.

I’ll also be doing a redux of last year’s presentation, Statistical Analysis and Data Sampling, at this year’s CEIC with Jon. We’re on at 4:30 PM on Monday in the eDiscovery Lab track. You can find the description on the CEIC website:

Ever worked on a matter where you wanted to validate that the search terms were working correctly? What about when a judge requests that you testify on your procedures for this validation process? This session will show you how to take culled evidence from the EnCase eDiscovery solution and create a representative random set of data to be used in the validation process. The options demonstrated will be: the number of items to review and the percentage of accuracy. Once a random sub-set has been created, this session will show how the EnCase eDiscovery solution can be used to manually tag the items and provide reporting.

The presentation will be updated with some new features on predictive coding and recent rulings. If you’re interested in how sampling can be used to reduce review time and improve keyword results, you should come check us out.

Unfortunately we’re up against Craig Ball and Chris Dale who will be rockin’ with “The Future of Social Media in E-Discovery.” Craig recently wrote a good piece for Law Technology News entitled Gold StandardA true gold standard for keyword search incorporates both precise inclusion and defensible exclusion. He touches on keyword precision in the article, and that’s one of our primary goals with our talk – how to get the best bang for your buck with a little extra testing.

Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) Conference 2012

The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) is a groundbreaking organization that is seeking to build the eDiscovery community through training and certification. ACEDS offers education in the form of live training seminars, access to recorded training online, and an annual conference. ACEDS is concerned about making sure certified individuals are proficient in not only one area of the EDRM, but in all. The certification covers a wide range of topics which are all important in the eDiscovery process – legal hold, collection, processing, project management and review planning, and everything surrounding them. ACEDS has partnered with organizations such as ARMA, ALSP, and ILTA. These organizations see the value in a vendor neutral certification for eDiscovery, and so do I. A lot has been written in every industry about pros and cons for certification, and eDiscovery is no exception.

Most technical and semi-technical fields have two basic types of certifications: vendor application specific and vendor neutral. I’ve seen several vendor exams for eDiscovery certifications. While those can be important for users of a specific application, they’re not always portable between organizations as there are so many different products prevalent in the market. Many of them are very specific to the functionality of the tools, and less focused on overall eDiscovery knowledge. Passing means you know how to run the application, but not that you necessarily understand the reasoning behind the actions you perform. I currently hold a vendor certification for forensics which attempts to remain balanced between general industry knowledge and tool-specific information, but the focus is definitely on the tool.

Vendor neutral certifications for eDiscovery, such as CEDS from ACEDS, don’t worry about how any specific tool tries to tackle eDiscovery. They aim to verify knowledge across multiple areas in a given discipline, without relying on how one tool functions. If you’re interested in learning more about the certification, check out the ACEDS website: What The Exam Is About. For other sources: Gabe Acevedo with Above The Law has a great analysis written just after last year’s ACEDS Conference. Dennis Kiker with LeClairRyan also wrote a well-reasoned article describing eDiscovery certification as the logical next step, and rebutting some recent criticism.

I can say from my own experience hiring forensic and eDiscovery professionals that certification is not a panacea or guarantee when choosing a candidate. What it does demonstrate, though, is that someone is interested in investing time in themselves and their chosen career field. In the case of CEDS, it shows that they care about advancing in the field of eDiscovery.

ACEDS is prepping for their annual conference at the beautiful Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL, April 2 – 4. The line-up is absolutely stellar. Topics include: addressing catastrophic eDiscovery events; timely items such as social media; often overlooked project management; eDiscovery malpractice risks; and of course, exam prep courses.

If you’re planning on attending the conference, enter discount code “BLACK” when you register to receive $150 off the already very reasonable conference fee. Don’t wait too long, though – the discount code expires soon!

Full disclosure: I serve on the ACEDS Advisory Board, lending my perspective on technology in eDiscovery and the intersection of eDiscovery and Forensics.

Corporate E-Discovery Forum on Social Media

A few weeks ago I had a unique opportunity to attend the Corporate E-Discovery Forum’s (CEDF) New York Forum. The CEDF is a non-profit organization that hosts and guides gatherings for its members, consisting of over 200 corporations and 400 individual participants, to encourage collaboration on E-Discovery issues. The forums give members the opportunity to discuss document retention policies and enterprise content management practices, litigation holds, preservation, collection, processing of electronically-stored information, cost and risk management, best practices to avoid spoliation and sanctions, and understanding plaintiffs’ strategies. Although vendors participate in the forums, they contribute equally with other members based on their experience (no sales pitches allowed).

Although there was a large turnout, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of interaction achieved in the sessions. Board members Nicholas Bunin, Jeri Head, and Patrick Gibson did a great job introducing sessions and spurring conversation. The board places great emphasis on active communication as opposed to having a single presenter talking at the crowd.

This recent forum was all about social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – in corporate environments. Social media has obviously been around for quite some time, but in the corporate environment, policy makers are just getting comfortable with its use for business purposes. As a user, my first instinct is to question why this causes a problem; as a corporate investigator, I can tell you that social media can cause significant problems in the workplace and creates a whole new medium in which violations can occur. There are myriad new legal guidelines emerging around how corporations should regulate these tools in light of the current legal landscape. Regulatory agencies have also recently had their say on the diligent monitoring that must occur in the financial industry in relation to social media.

The forum had four main sessions during the day: Social Media and Reducing Risk, Practical Guide for Corporations to the Identification, Collection and Production of Social Media, Social Media Policy, and Social Media Dialog with Judges. While the guidelines of the organization prohibit sharing of content outside of the forum, I’ll just say that the day was well spent and I learned quite a bit. The next forum theme will be Cloud Technology, and will take place at the San Francisco Forum in June. The Corporate E-Discovery Forum would love to have new members participate and contribute to the discussions, and welcomes technical practitioners as well. If you’re a member of a corporate E-Discovery team, whether legal or tech, I’d highly encourage you join and participate!

eDiscovery Review and Predictive Coding with Statistics

Anne Kershaw and Joe Howie recently wrote a great summary for LTN on predictive coding in eDiscovery. The article gives a brief history and the evolution of review and coding practices in discovery, then gets to the good stuff. They present some pretty compelling numbers from recent studies that show just how inconsistent review efforts can really be. This isn’t a technical deep dive article in predictive coding or statistics, but I hope it helps get the word out on what the Sedona Conference has been saying for a few years now.

I find their list of high points most interesting: Transparency, Replicability, Reevaluating production sets, Confidentiality, Shortened time lines. While you could say transparency is aided by the simple fact that predictive coding systems record more data from its users on how and why a document was coded one way or the other, the black box nature of the algorithms used to determine document links is still an issue for me. This probably won’t be changing any time soon unless consumers (attorneys and judges) demand it. Right now the amount of noise present in eDiscovery is so high that it is, perhaps, acceptable to give this a pass for the moment.

My absolute favorite quote from this article? Well, it has to do with why more attorneys aren’t using predictive coding:

Given the claimed advantages for predictive coding, why isn’t everyone using it? The most mentioned reason, cited by 10 respondents, was uncertainty or fear about whether judges will accept predictive coding. (Paradoxically, at a recent U.S. Magistrates’ Conference, a participant jurist asked for advice on how to convince lawyers to use this type of approach.)

This is in line with what I see in the industry every day. Despite eDiscovery education initiatives popping up in every legal conference, many attorneys still don’t seem to get it. Having sat through quite a bit of painful legal education in my time, I’ve seen a recurring issue with how new ideas are presented in the legal setting. Quoting David Alan Grier as Science Dude on tonight’s episode of Bones: “And what do we say about clarity? It’s barbarity that clarity is a rarity.” Just because you’re a good attorney, doesn’t mean you’re a good educator. This is true of so many professions…

Sampling, one of my favorite topics, is given a mention at the end of the article. I think many litigation shops fall back into old habits too easily, and forget how much time and money proper sampling can save them. Not just in processing and review, but also in time [not] wasted in the courtroom. Jason R. Baron and Ralph Losey literally talk about it all the time.

If you’re interested in learning more about statistical sampling for eDiscovery and how you can save us all a big headache (and maybe some money, too), head on over to my Presentations page and grab a copy of Statistical Validation And Data Analytics In eDiscovery, a talk I gave at IQPC eDiscovery West 2010 in San Francisco earlier this year. Let me know how you use sampling or predictive coding and how we can better educate the community in the comments!