Let's face it, we all have bigger things to worry about than capital B-D "Big Data." Climate change for one. It was just announced on May 23rd, that for the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA's Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). Apparently—and I am no scientist—atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by a staggering 43 percent since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Those who are scientists say that the cause is the burning of fossil fuels necessary to support our industrialized society, and the effect is climate change. Will this change all we have contributed to become manageable or catastrophic? Given the hurricane forecast, I'd say we have our work cut out for us.
But while climate change and the earth that my children—and someday my grand-children—will inherit, keep me up at night, Big Data occupies my days. It's almost absurd how in a relatively very short period of time we went from being OK to talk about eDiscovery as a separate, isolated discipline to not being able to reasonably and defensibly talk only about eDiscovery. "Yesterday" a case came in, a few gigs of data was collected and an army was assembled (one of few or many) to review documents. EDRM plain and simple. But now for those of us eDiscovery veterans and newbies, it's so much more than that. In truth, it was way more than just eDiscovery back then. At the time, however, it was difficult when attempting to get lawyers to adapt to practicing law electronically for anyone to see the forest for the electronic trees. So we focused on eDiscovery, but now data is so much bigger. Let's take a petabyte, for example. One petabyte is approximately 1,000 terabytes or one million gigabytes. It's hard to visualize what a petabyte's worth of storage could hold. One estimation of the sheer volume of data is approximately 20 million 4-door filing cabinets full of text or 500 billion pages of standard printed text. I did the following very scientific research. If the average bankers box of documents fits approximately 3000 pages then one petabyte equals 166,666,666 of these boxes. If one box weighs 41 pounds (and yes, I had someone weigh it), then one petabyte equals 666,666,640 pounds or 3,333,333 tons (at 2000 pounds per ton). If the largest elephant weighs 7.5 tons, when you print out one petabyte of data it weighs the equivalent of 444,444 elephants. That's an awful lot of elephants in our virtual room.
That many elephants has created a whole host of additional issues that we can no longer ignore—what data are we obliged to hold onto, where to keep all that data if we do need it, how do we get access to that data when we need it in discovery, who owns the data (and is that different than the person who possesses or controls the data), what happens when the data falls into the wrong hands? Will the cloud ever fill to overflowing such that it begins to rain gigabytes? Talk about climate change. So now, 250 years after the Industrial Revolution is said to have begun in England, and almost 100 since we picked up on the idea here in the United States, it's time for the global business community to usher in a new era of "Organization Evolution." By evolution I in no way mean we attempt to recreate the dystopian 2081 world of Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron where, because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. What I do mean is that we all try to get on the same page—legal, IT and outsource consultants—working together to create a holistic approach to the creation, use, retention, storage, privacy and security of digital information. This approach must come from top-down in an organization in a way that best fits the needs and legal requirements of a particular organization so no one department, division or subsidiary is "more equal" than another.
Organizational Evolution begins with each of us—the eDiscovery professionals. Indeed, who better to lead the charge than the eDiscovery professionals who have been in the trenches with digital information for all these many years (and who remember what a megabyte is). If we are to advocate for making smart, legally sound choices we must use our collective voice for the betterment of our organizations and clients. In order to create Organizational Evolution we need to demonstrate the value of being proactive rather than reactive where electronic data is concerned. This notion will take a concerted effort of education and constant vigilance, but will be worth the time and effort. There are more than enough petabytes of information to go around for all of us to have a voice in this new era. We have more tools and opportunities at our disposal than ever before—technological advances in eDiscovery, better systems for legal project management and availability of lower cost options for storage. We also have the alphabet soup of incentives such as the SEC, FTC, FRCP to name but a few. With Big Data, we have the opportunity of being part of something huge. OK, it might not be as big as an international pact to reduce global warming (a girl can dream can't she?), but by embracing Organizational Evolution we have the power to be a part of the change. Who's with me?
Alitia Faccone is the Director of Marketing at McCarter & English, LLP and works to develop and implement the firm's marketing and business development initiatives. She also serves as Co-Chair of the firmís e-Discovery Group, whose legal practice focuses in the area of eDiscovery, including all legal and technical issues attendant to digital information in the law. Ms. Faccone sees tremendous synergies between being a lawyer who understands the complexities of digital information and its effect on the civil discovery process, and being a marketing professional who capitalizes on the use of digital information in all its myriad forms to create strategies for generating new business and strengthening pre-existing relationships. Ms. Faccone is a member of The Sedona Conference WGI and a Senior Editor of its Primer on Social Media. She is the Chair of the firm's Women's Initiative Steering Committee and Co-editor-in-Chief of its newsletter, Women in the Know. She also serves as an Advisory Board Member to the Women in Law Empowerment Forum.
"Although there continues to be two basic types of innovationsóthose that sustain the status quo and those that disrupt itó hybrids often emerge as a prelude to pure disruption in the category of a sustaining innovation."
- Clayton Christensen†
For almost a year now, we have been noticing that the rate of adoption of predictive coding is accelerating across the eDiscovery world: in law firms, corporate legal departments and in service providers.† This trend is creating a disruption in the way eDiscovery services are delivered. We donít have many facts yet, but I want to give you a peek into whatís on my mind Ė share the questions that Iíll be asking industry experts as I explore this subject to help eDiscovery professionals prepare to fill a new role.
During a recent conversation, the President of a global eDiscovery services firm divulged clients' demand for the use of predictive coding has jumped from 12 cases total last year to 27 in the first five months this year.
FACT: The rate of adoption of TAR/CAR/predictive coding is accelerating.
QUESTION: What is that rate of acceleration and to what extent is this adoption impacting the macroeconomics of eDiscovery and the delivery of services?
FACT: This disruptive technology is having an impact on the careers of eDiscovery leaders—both attorneys and non-attorneys.
QUESTION: What is that impact?
"When I look for talent that understands TAR, I look for someone that not only understands the advantages of TAR, but its limitations."
(Partner of AmLaw 100 firm)
FACT: Though predictive coding technology will certainly get better and better and better, we need to understand the limitations of TAR in its current state.
QUESTION: What level of technological maturity does today's professional possess? Is she prepared to have a 360 degree conversation about TAR?
FACT: There is a new new war for talent developing. Law firms, corporate legal departments and service providers are all looking for predictive coding SMEs.
QUESTION: Does that individual need to be a legalist, technologist or project manager?
As the demand increases, there will be a need for additional legalists, technologists and project managers with experiential knowledge of predictive coding, who have evolved into TAR experts. We need to better understand the details of that emerging role.
Organizations are no longer asking about predictive coding they are asking for it. And so here's my Yogi Berra sound bite: The more they ask for it, the more they ask for it.
Five cities completed between April and May. We flew to New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco, and as we complete the Q2 Leadership Breakfast series, we begin setting up for the second half of the year.
But what about what we discussed, what we shared and what we learned?
The topic, "Big Data: An Emerging Influencer for eDiscovery, Compliance & Information Governance Careers," continued to spur thoughtful and insightful discussions in each city. David Cowen and I, along with the help of Adi Elliot from kCura and Damon Goduto from Iris Data Services, set up each of the discussions, stealing each other's talking points along the way and sharing insight into what we learned from the city before.
We continued to see that defining Big Data was an issue, and at times participants struggled with the topic because it lacked clear definition and real life examples. The "Risk, Cost and Value" question grew in scope and depth. Instead of coming to define what big data is, these developed into conversation drivers. Each attendee conceded that all three were important, but one usually was more so and thus became the de facto driver for what that attendee's organization was doing with their data.
Each breakfast ended with questions about how to tackle the many issues surrounding big data, but in each city we reached this point much quicker. Big data is moving and growing so fast in Velocity, Volume and Variety that is it hard to put your arms around it. Additionally, it means such different things to each organization and the various departments within that organization. How in the world can you make any headway on it? There are two valuable pieces of advice that could be helpful in answering this question and they came from two topics that repeatedly presented themselves in the conversation. First, one must have clearly outlined goals.
You don't know how to get there unless you know where you are going. The simple rule of project management is to ask what the goals are before beginning a project, and the same holds true here. If you are attempting to mitigate risk, build value within the data or control costs, the goals have to be clearly defined first. Again, do not think broad brush, but start with small tasks and tangible wins. This will help to keep from falling off the track and keeping to a goal.
The second is how do you measure it, in a word: Analytics. Some older organizations have no means of measuring, analyzing, understanding, quantifying, organizing, etc. all of their data. This lack of measurement and metrics of the data leads to the anxiety of stakeholders within these companies who need to know what to do with it and what is relevant. So, start to measure it, begin to gain some metrics around it and at the very least use these in the future. Start small. Some newer organizations have this ability and those organizations lead the way in creating value from their data. Arguably, most of the data within an organization has little to no value, but finding the data that does should be a goal of any organization.
As David Cowen would say "What happens after what happens next?" Let's see where summer takes us.
Michael Boland is the Managing Director for Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP. Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC provides full life cycle eDiscovery consulting, technology, and project management services. In his current role, Michael has full managerial responsibility, operational control, and oversight of Drinker Discovery Solutions, LLC. DDS works with Drinker Biddle & Reath clients as well as external non-firm clients to identify, preserve, collect, process, review, and produce data for use in adversarial proceedings. The DDS philosophy is to simplify eDiscovery and bring clients cost effective solutions by leveraging leading technology and processes driven by top tier project management.
Mr. Boland has worked for eDiscovery vendors, boutique and national consulting companies, practiced law relating to eDiscovery matters as well as worked in a consultative and project management capacity with AmLaw firms and Fortune 500 corporate legal departments.
Mr. Boland is a member of the American Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar. Michael received a BA from the University of Notre Dame, a JD from Golden Gate University and an MBA from the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University.
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My journey as an intern with The Cowen Group began last August, and as it comes to a close, I wanted to share with the community what I have learned over the past eight months. This has been a significant opportunity for my professional development and I know The Cowen Group will continue to provide the highest level of thought leadership and career acceleration in the legal, compliance, and information governance fields.
As a third year law student at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California, I learned about The Cowen Group when my summer internship manager and mentor at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in Washington, D.C. invited me to attend a Leadership Breakfast as her guest. I was immediately intrigued with what The Cowen Group offers to event participants in terms of communication forums and industry expertise.
Part of my role has been to identify eDiscovery programs, practice groups, and leaders inside law firms and corporations. I have seen that although these programs vary dramatically in terms of structure and placement within an organization, collectively, they have gained increased support from management and are utilized by a wider range of departments than in previous years. However, when I asked law firm attorneys about career potential as a focused eDiscovery attorney, multiple associates suggested young attorneys avoid specializing entirely on eDiscovery, and instead incorporate this specialty as part of a broader litigation practice. The market exists today, but with the increase in sophisticated vendors, more inexpensive review platforms, and the mature talent already available, it may not be the next big specialization for new law school graduates. What I have taken from this is that all young litigators should have a basic understanding of eDiscovery processes and the legal requirements, but may not want to disregard other areas of the litigation practice.
There are two very compelling aspects about starting a career in the Information Governance space. First, these jobs are not going anywhere. Every organization, large or small, across all industries, generates data and needs to understand where it is, what it is, and how to access it when it is needed. Based on this demand, companies are continuing to create new roles for lawyers, often outside traditional litigation or advisory roles. Understanding Big Data in terms of costs to an organization, both of storage and of litigation requirements, and technical aspects of managing ever-increasing amounts of data is not lost on organizations. Because there is a certain amount of specialization and technical understanding required, many companies are allowing lawyers to define and sculpt their role in the Information Governance space—a second compelling aspect about a career in this space.
Because this is a rather new area, careers in information governance area are not entirely defined. This is a great opportunity for lawyers who have experience managing or working with records, have an IT background, or business knowledge to carve out a career path, using these skills to further the specific data management goals of the company. After speaking with various large corporations, I learned that many information governance programs started with a single person who really spearheaded the effort. These individuals brought the business, IT, and legal teams together to discuss the current status of the company's data, where they wanted to be in five years, ten years, and how they were going to get there. Many companies have not yet taken this step and need a prospective thinker to bring together the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Technical Officer, the General Counsel and the Records Managers to develop a process that will work for the specific company. It is an exciting prospect to know that this new generation of lawyers can have such a significant impact within an organization.
As a soon-to-be law school graduate, I have a particular interest in tracking hot new job trends so I can better place myself in a position to succeed. Due to their round tables, peer groups, market research, and recruiting services which tracks this information, working with The Cowen Group has provided me with this very unique opportunity. I have spoken with law firm partners, associates, corporate attorneys, and information officers about their predictions for area expansion and gained an inside look to where organizations predict growth, when they see this growth occurring, and what we, as new lawyers, should focus on to succeed.
Multiple industry leaders advised me that they think the areas with the most opportunities on the horizon are data privacy, both nationally and internationally, and cyber security. These are really hot-button issues and, unlike in the eDiscovery field, there is not a large group of experienced lawyers already in practice. New lawyers interested in privacy law should consider obtaining their privacy certification and joining international privacy groups. Likewise, cyber security is a great area for new lawyers with a background or interest in technology to explore. Data breaches and other hacking scams are more and more frequent and companies and law firms need lawyers who understand the technical aspects to identify areas open to threats while bringing systems into compliance with regulations and preventing against future litigation. This dual understanding will be increasingly expected of lawyers and now is the time to really develop these skills.
People who are rising to the top in this field have a forward-thinking attitude, are able to foresee budgetary implications, the relevance of technical advancements, and can anticipate legal issues and obstacles. Facing challenges of a slowly recovering economy and Big Data getting bigger, organizations need people who can tie it all together.
This internship has provided me with an opportunity to discuss real, current issues in an area not commonly accessible in law school. I have been fortunate enough to build relationships with people I likely would not have met in this stage of my professional career, an aspect of this internship that is truly unique. They have shared with me their experiences, their challenges and the opportunities and potential the fields of eDiscovery and information governance provide.
This journey has secured my interest in pursuing a career in the legal technology area, and I eagerly await the day when I am personally invited to attend a Leadership Breakfast or Signature Dinner to contribute my more seasoned expertise in the area I pursue.
Thank you to everyone who has made this journey such a valuable and significant one. I'll see you at breakfast!
New Role To Accelerate Professional Growth Within The Cowen Group's Premier Talent Community.
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Our guest blog on the changing landscape of eDiscovery Talent
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Big Firms Give Personnel Biggest Paydays
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David Cowen predicts a huge spike in outsourcing to meet demands of eDiscovery, compliance, and Big Data.
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TCG's 2012 Q2 Critical Trends Survey.
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A surge in eDiscovery work in 2012.
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