Everyday e-Discovery: University of Florida Focuses on Law Firms and Schools of All Sizes

by David Horrigan on March 22, 2018

Community , Legal & Industry Education

Once upon a time, e-discovery was primarily the domain of Am Law 100 law firms and their Fortune 500 clients. In addition, not so many years ago, a law school e-discovery course—let alone an e-discovery curriculum—was rare or non-existent.

Not anymore.

On March 29, at the Sixth Annual UF Law E-Discovery Conference, prominent federal judges, practitioners, and e-discovery experts will gather at the University of Florida Levin College of Law for discussions that will be livestreamed globally on issues affecting not only the nation’s largest law firms, but solo practitioners, smaller firms, and government legal teams as well.

In addition to addressing the e-discovery issues of law firms large and small, the conference has expanded into E-Discovery Week, with an additional Law School E-Discovery Core Curriculum Consortium, including legal educators from law schools such as the City University of New York, Georgetown, Southern Illinois University, the University of Texas, and others.

Whether it’s legal practice or legal education, a preview of the event illustrates how the world of e-discovery has changed.

Dual Judiciary

Catering to both its national live-stream and Florida audiences, the conference will feature both its annual Judicial Panel with prominent Florida federal judges and an additional session on e-discovery sanctions with well-known jurists from across the nation.

The Judicial Panel will consist of five jurists with extensive e-discovery knowledge: U.S. magistrate judges Patricia Barksdale (M.D. Fla.), Gary Jones (N.D. Fla.), William Matthewman (S.D. Fla.), Mac McCoy (M.D. Fla.), and Amanda Sansone (M.D. Fla.). Relativity’s David Horrigan will serve as moderator.

The sanctions session will include noted e-discovery law author and retired Florida Circuit Judge Ralph Artigliere and two of the most well-known jurists in e-discovery law, retired US Magistrate Judge John Facciola (D.D.C.) of Georgetown University and retired US Magistrate Judge James Francis IV (S.D.N.Y.) of The City University of New York. Judge Matthewman will moderate this session.

When so many from behind the bench are this involved in spreading awareness and analyzing the impacts of e-discovery, it’s a good indication that the subject has expanded to near-universal relevance in the legal field.

Hackers and Handhelds

Few issues have had a greater impact on modern e-discovery than the proliferation of mobile devices, social media, and the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as the associated data privacy and protection issues.

Mobile, social media, IoT, and data security not only have transformed e-discovery, they’re responsible in large part for creating e-discovery for everyone. Asymmetric e-discovery, where plaintiffs have little electronically stored information (ESI) and corporate defendants have terabytes of data, still exists, but emerging data sources have changed the rules of the ballgame with plaintiffs now having far more data, and the UF Law conference will address these issues.

Judge Sansone will moderate the Mobile, Social, IoT panel featuring Doug Austin of CloudNine Discovery, Craig Ball of Craig D Ball PC, and Kelly Twigger of ESI Attorneys. Kenya Dixon of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will moderate the data security session with a panel of Mary Mack of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), Jason Pill of Phelps Dunbar, and Robert Wilkins of Jones, Foster, Johnston & Stubbs.

Deep Dives on Data

From discussions on Big Data a few years ago to today’s artificial intelligence talk of robots taking over the law (and the planet), emerging technologies continue to be a hot topic and the University of Florida e-discovery conference is no exception.

Judge McCoy will moderate the session, Checking Your Case Story Against Your Case Data: Is Your Client’s Story Accurate And Defensible? Joining the judge will be Martin Audet and Canaan Himmelbaum of Advanced Discovery and Aaron Crews of Littler.

The group will discuss various questions that can be answered by analyzing a client’s data, including: Should you take the case? What’s your client’s case worth? How can you find and understand the important information quickly? These questions, of course, apply to litigation matters of all sizes, but they’re exceptionally important for solos and small firms as they decide whether they can afford to take on a case. It’s another example of technology leveling the litigation playing field.

The discussion of dealing with data will then continue with a discussion on the use of keywords, technology-assisted review (TAR), and AI, with two teams analyzing the options. On “Team TAR” will be Corey Douglas of Advanced Discovery and Tom O’Connor of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center. On “Team Keyword” will be Julie Brown of Vorys and George Socha of BDO.

Of course, whatever technologies one uses in e-discovery, there will still be data to review. Judge Barksdale will moderate the session, Human Eyes-On Data Review: We Can’t Escape It, where she’ll be joined by panelists Tessa Jacob of Husch Blackwell, Scott Milner of Morgan Lewis, and Gregory Witczak of Deutsche Bank. The session will address techniques such as single instance review, thread suppression workflows, and keyword-hit only reviews.

In Tales from the E-Discovery Trenches, Suzanne Clark of eDiscovery CoCounsel and Michael Quartararo of eDiscoveryPM.com will discuss When My E-Discovery Professional Saved the Day, and Ian Campbell of iCONECT Development will discuss his company’s work on the JFK assassination files.

Law Curriculum Consortium

As noted above, the conference has expanded to E-Discovery Week this year. Activities include Career Fest on Wednesday, March 28, the conference on Thursday, March 29, and the Law School E-Discovery Core Curriculum Consortium on Friday, March 30. The livestream of the conference can be accessed here.

At the Core Curriculum Consortium, law school professors from across the nation will be developing teaching tools and methods including lecture content, exercises, and hands-on e-discovery software activities.

Host William Hamilton, legal skills professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and executive director of the UF Law E-Discovery Project, will welcome legal educators from the law schools of CUNY, Georgetown, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Southern Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. 

In addition to the Curriculum Consortium, in another sign of the times in e-discovery, UF Law’s E-Discovery Week will include CareerFest: a day of programming devoted to careers in the e-discovery law profession and industry. In addition to many of the conference faculty members, Jonathan Augustin and Rose Jones of King & Spalding, e-Discovery marketing consultant Maribel Rivera, and Kaylee Walstad of ACEDS will discuss the many career options available in e-discovery.  

Why the University of Florida Conference Matters

Along with major industry conferences, such as Legalweek, ILTACON, and Relativity Fest, the UF Law E-Discovery Conference has become an important event in the world of e-discovery law. The idea of catering to legal teams from firms of all sizes goes into everything from the conference programming to the low cost of in-person or livestream attendance.

Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the University of Florida conference in its sixth year is that it’s a conference that wouldn’t have existed a mere decade ago. Just a few years ago, there wasn’t much discussion of e-discovery for small firms, and—even if there were—you wouldn’t have the expertise of this conference—or the bargain price.

The University of Florida Gators may have had a heartbreaking loss in March Madness last week, but the occasional madness of e-discovery will be alive and well in Gainesville next week.

David Horrigan is Relativity’s discovery counsel and legal education director. An attorney, law school guest lecturer, e-discovery industry analyst, and award-winning journalist, 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.


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