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The Best of Relativity Fest: Our Favorite Commentary from the Conference

David Horrigan

Relativity Fest 2017 is in the books. With almost 2,000 attendees, 168 legal and technical educational sessions and workshops, over 4,000 tweets—and, yes, more than a few parties—this year’s annual festival of learning and fellowship for the e-discovery community broke new records.

One of our favorite things about Relativity Fest is the way the e-discovery community comes together to provide gems of wisdom. Whether they’re from our educational sessions or simply members of the e-discovery community sharing perspectives during Relativity Fest, we’ve compiled some thoughts we hope you’ll enjoy.

We call this The Best of Relativity Fest, but please know that we know there were many great moments not captured here. Thanks to all of you for making Relativity Fest 2017 such a success.

Patrick Burke, Of Counsel, Bennett & Samios LLP, on U.S. online companies' use of personal data:

“They’re doing a lot of things with data that creep out a lot of Europeans, but for some reason, it doesn’t creep out Americans.”

Bennett Bordan, Chief Data Scientist and chair of Information Governance Group, Drinker Biddle & Reath:

“For lawyers, our product is information.”

Charlie Connor, Co-founder and CEO, Heretik

"Anyone who attended Relativity Fest can readily see that the Relativity community is fanatical and hungry to solve more business problems using the platform. This hunger gives our teamand so many other developer partnersthe opportunity to build software that is making a huge impact on users' lives."

Chris Dale, Founder, eDisclosure Information Project, commenting—quite disapprovingly—about one effect of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the e-discovery and data protection industry:

“The GDPR is the best marketing tool since Zubulake.

Honorable John Facciola, U.S. Magistrate Judge (Retired) and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, speaking at an affiliated event sponsored by Relativity partner, CDS:

“The sanctity of the attorney-client privilege is about the equivalent of the sanctity of the Renaissance Papacy.”

Honorable Nora Barry Fischer, U.S. District Judge (W.D. Pa.) on the importance of metadata in e-discovery even in an era of proportionality:

“Proportionality is important, but metadata can be critical to a case. In fact, one of the largest cases of the year, Wadler v. Bio-Rad Laboratories, turned on a small piece of metadata.”

Tracy Greer, Senior Litigation Counsel, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice (speaking for herself and not the Department of Justice) on spoliation of evidence:

“In our world, you don’t spoliate—you commit obstruction of justice.”

Karyn Harty, Partner, McCann FitzGerald, Dublin, Ireland, on the effect of Brexit on Ireland and the Emerald Isle’s lack of control on the process:

“It’s been said that Brexit will be good for Ireland, but in the long term, that’s wrong. It’s as if your daughter came home and announced she was having her boyfriend’s initials tattooed on her forehead. It will be horrible for her, probably horrible for you, and the worst thing is that you have no control over it.”

Keynote Speaker Chip Heath, professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-author (with his brother, Dan) of The Power of Moments:

“The eye roll is one of the best diagnostic predictors of divorce.”

Richard Kessler, Executive Director of Information Lifecycle Governance, Group Information Security Office, UBS:

“Carpenters didn’t worry about jobs being taken over when the hammer was invented.”

Gayle O’Connor, Marketing Manager, Social Evidence LLC, from the audience in the Beer and Basics: e-Discovery Fundamentals session, on social media e-discovery in domestic relations matters:

“If you’re getting a divorce, get off social media.”

Gina O’Neill, eDiscovery Manager, and Scott Murphy, Senior Executive; Herbert Smith Freehills; Brisbane, Australia on Relativity Fest:

“We didn’t appreciate how big this conference was. It’s full of lights, and it’s glitzy and glamorous. You’re making e-discovery sexy.”

Honorable Andrew Peck, US Magistrate Judge (S.D.N.Y.):

“No matter how careful you are in e-discovery, some privileged document is bound to slip through—which is why I continue to say that failure to get a Rule 502(d) order borders on malpractice.”

Michael Quartararo, Director of Litigation Support Services, Stroock Stroock & Lavan:

“When I first came to Relativity Fest, it was all about Relativity. There was no Rule 502(d) discussion, no Judicial Panel, and there weren’t many—if any—lawyers. Now, it’s much more than Relativity Fest. The lawyers are here, the judges are here, and there are so many companies here. It’s now really Legal Technology Fest.”

Honorable Xavier Rodriguez, US District Judge (W.D. Tex.) on the enthusiasm for more judicial involvement in TAR protocols after the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:

“I know people want a pontifical blessing of TAR protocols, but I find nothing in the rules showing that it's my role as a judge to do that.”

James Sandman, President, Legal Services Corporation:

“Law schools spend a lot of time getting their students to think like lawyers; I wish they would spend more time getting them to think like clients.”

Honorable Shira Scheindlin, Retired US District Judge (Retired) and now of counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, on her decision in Floyd v. City of New York (quote courtesy of Zach Warren of Legaltech News, who attended the session):

“Stop and frisk is probably the case I’m proudest of from all my years on the bench, including Zubulake. … For those of us who haven’t been stopped, maybe you don’t realize what it’s like to be stopped—to go to the store for milk, then get hung up for 30 minutes or more in front of your friends or family. It’s very humiliating.”

Andrew Sieja, Founder and CEO, Relativity:

“Best part of my day? Waking up next to my wife. Second best? Reading the daily digest from the Community.”

Honorable Peter Vickery, Justice, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, on Australia’s criminal spoliation sanctions, and the spoliation claims in Mueller v. Swift (the Taylor Swift case), where multiple devices were allegedly destroyed, including by a coffee spill on a MacBook:

“We would have thrown the coffee-spiller in jail.”

Grant Whiteley, Director, KordaMentha, who may be the person who traveled the farthest to get to Relativity Fest (33 hours, including connections, from Perth, Australia):

“Out of all the conferences I attend, I get the most out of this one. I get a much better understanding of issues affecting our industry, and I walk away with new technical skills I didn’t have before. It’s a bit hit or miss at every other conference. Besides that, the culture around Relativity is infectious. There’s much more passion, excitement, and openness.”

David Horrigan is Relativity’s discovery counsel and legal education director. An attorney, award-winning journalist, law school guest lecturer, and former e-discovery industry analyst, David has served as counsel at the Entertainment Software Association, reporter and assistant editor at The National Law Journal, and analyst and counsel at 451 Research. The author and co-author of law review articles as well as the annual Data Discovery Legal Year in Review, David is a frequent contributor to Legaltech News, and he was First Runner-Up for Best Legal Analysis in the LexBlog Excellence Awards. His articles have appeared also in The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, The New York Law Journal, Texas Lawyer, The Washington Examiner, and others, and he has been cited by media, including American Public Media’s Marketplace, TechRepublic, and The Wall Street Journal. David serves on the Global Advisory Board of ACEDS, the Planning Committee of the University of Florida E-Discovery Conference, and the Resource Board of the National Association of Women Judges. David is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, and he is an IAPP Certified Information Privacy Professional/US.