If you couldn’t attend the Ipro Tech Show in April (or want to relive it one more time), we have you covered! Videos of the presentations are now live and streamable, allowing you to experience the next best thing to being there (and share it with your colleagues).
The general session kicked off with Ipro CEO Dean Brown updating the audience regarding Ipro andhow we’re future-proofing our technology partnerships. Then, an Artificial Intelligence panel followed with Kinny Chan (Precision Discovery, LLC), Stephen Goldstein (Squire Patton Boggs, LLP), and William Kellermann (Hanson Bridgett, LLP) discussing AI and its impacts on the legal industry. Keynote Speaker Kevin Surace, futurist and disruptive innovator, wrapped up the general session by speaking about the myths and realities surrounding AI, upcoming trends, and how to use them to get ahead of the curve.
Track sessions were led by industry thought leaders and covered hot topics affecting eDiscovery, including: Tackling Information Governance and Incident Response, and Data Breaches as it applies to eDiscovery. The Sedona Conferencealso offered CLE credits, product training, and certification.
Thanks to everyone who made this event a success. We’re already making plans for next year!
Copies of the videos and presentations can be found here.
Here’s a common situation that could cause problems when pausing jobs and a tip to prevent it.
When it comes to pausing jobs you should know the possible impact this could create with deduplication. In general, pausing a job will not impact anything with the job, but this can change depending on other jobs that are running or will be run. Here is an example of something that can happen:
We start a job called Job A. Then we pause Job A and start another job (Job B) in the same custodian.
We are de-duplicating at the custodian level.
Let’s say Job A has processed 10 files before it was paused, one of those files was found in Job B > Job B will list the item as a duplicate of the item in Job A.
Let’s let Job B finish and unpause Job A and let it finish
The last item in Job A was a duplicate of an item in Job B > Job A will deduplicate it out, keeping the item from Job B
In this case, both jobs have an item that was deduplicated from the other. Whichever job discovers the item first will be the reference, and all other jobs will mark their items as duplicates, even if one job finishes before the other or if a job is paused.
Let’s go over another scenario:
Let’s start Job A and let it get through the same 10 documents again, then pause it
Now we will start Job B and let it finish. One of Job B’s items is a duplicate of one of the items in Job A that is done with processing and gets deduplicated
Now we delete Job A. What happens to the item in Job B? It still is marked as a duplicate, and will still be deduplicated.
Now we are in a problem where an item is getting marked as a duplicate despite the original job being deleted. Normally if we delete Job A before starting Job B, this wouldn’t cause a problem, but because the jobs were active at the same time, the jobs are now “linked” by their duplicate items, and deleting one job means potentially re-running the other.
Knowing this ahead of time in the event you need to pause a job will ensure nothing important to your review gets missed.
A high profile wealthy man is found shot to death in his home. The scene appears suspiciously staged to investigating police and in short time, the victim’s wife, a woman not known for her warmth and kindness, is immediately charged with his murder. Her alibi is slippery, and the evidence is stacking up. Her only hope is securing the best defense team possible.
Enter Dr. Jason Bull, the founder of Trial Analysis Corporation on the fictional courtroom drama, Bull. He and his team of experts employ psychology, human intuition, and high tech to influence trial outcomes in favor of their clients. His process starts with jury selection and the ability to assess if the potential jurors will lean his way. He does this in the typical way, through attorney questioning, but also using a mirror jury with palm sensors to gauge response and shift the narrative during trial. Impressive use of technology, albeit, tech that either doesn’t exist or would be extremely expensive to utilize, but that’s not the point of this post.
The typical Bull episode begins with Dr. Bull and his team being hired by a client and deciding based on the facts if they should accept. The premise of the previously referenced episode was about proving the wife’s innocence when public opinion had already convicted her. Dr. Bull goes through his usual jury manipulations, but what stood out during the episode was with all the technology he uses in the initial process to develop a strategy, once they got to the courtroom, technology disappeared.
When it came time for the defense attorney to stun the courtroom with the proof of his client’s innocence, he lifted a simple clipped stack of papers and told the jurors what it contained. Papers? Really? Is this 2018 or an episode of Perry Mason? Where’s the fancy graphics? Where’s the video? For a show so heavily focused on technology, it was a strange dichotomy. Let’s look at how impactful that trial argument could have been with the use of stellar trial presentation software like TrialDirector 360.
First up: the accused provides a false alibi to the police the night of the murder because she fears her true whereabouts would be more incriminating. When she’s deposed, she lies again, until Dr. Bull and his team confront her and learn she was really seeing a divorce attorney that night. During trial, she’s asked about it, as is the police officer who took her statement, but how much more powerful for the prosecution could that have been with a deposition transcript replay for the juror’s ears. With TrialDirector 360’s video and transcript management, the exact piece of the interview could be played back for the jury’s consideration. Granted, it may have worked out initially in the prosecution’s favor until the defense had an opportunity to explain.
The smoking gun (spoiler alert!) of this episode was the discovery of a website and paper trail that showed the husband sought out a hitman via the dark web and planned and paid for his own execution. The motive? He had gambled away his family’s fortune and knew that suicide would prevent the payout of the 25 million dollar life insurance policy. This information was verbally relayed to the wife during her testimony rather than bringing it up on a screen to show the jury the proof and evidence of the existence of this website. Using TrialDirector 360’s tear out feature, the defense could highlight the exact information proving their client’s innocence. Dun dun dun! It’s hard to argue with something that’s right in front of your face.
In another powerful moment, the prosecution played a recording the deceased left for his wife, seemingly pleading for his life, the prosecution contending that he knew she wanted him dead. The defense, however, after learning the events that really took place, explained to the court how it was actually a suicide note, but never took the opportunity to play the recording again, reframing it with the newfound facts to sway the jury closer to the truth. Imagine the impact to the jury to visually see the website, the paper trail and the voice recording securing beyond a shadow of a doubt the wife’s innocence.
The outcomes always work out in Dr. Bull’s favor as many fictional shows do, but in a real courtroom, it’s critical to maximize the impact of your argument, and ultimately obtain the desired verdict, by implementing trial technology that actually does exist.
Want to take your trial presentation to the next level?
It’s the trend sweeping the nation. Since about 2012, the concept of ditching the cubicle farm for wide open workspaces became the poster child of the progressive workplace. The young and hip flocked to these often start-up companies, but slowly, the concept spread to more traditional companies. In that time, the advantages and disadvantages have come to light, along with how different generational groups adjust to the plan. Even traditional law firms are grappling with the concept as they ponder how to create a working environment that is sustainable now and into the future when 75% of the workforce will be millennials by the year 2030. As open workplaces continue to stick around, companies and employees alike have had to adjust to meet the varied needs of the workforce.
One of the stated benefits of an open office lies in the belief that removing walls creates an atmosphere of collaboration among employees. Traditionally, trapped in a cubicle with the boss in a closed-door office, to communicate required physically going to a location where the other person is, or more accurately using phones, email, or chats to communicate with others, thus obstructing the spontaneous flow of communication and creativity.
Having open offices can also create a perception, real or imagined, of equality regardless of tenure or title. Having access to the boss has been shown to increase approachability, allow the manager to view employee interactions and performance first hand, and address positive or negative behavior in a timely manner. Even walking into an open-air office can boost morale leading to productive and engaged employees. Often offices designed in this way are visually interesting, colorful, and buzzing with activity, rather than a broad swatch of gray cubicles. It can allow the employer the ability to scale up fairly easily just by shifting people around, rather than investing in individual work areas. There seem to be a lot of benefits for an employer to adopt this style.
Is there a flip side to the benefits?
The biggest challenge is probably distractions. Without the barrier of cubicle or office walls, every sidebar, phone call, TV show discussion and spontaneous collaboration reverberates around the office whether you want to hear it or not. Some studies even describe a phenomenon of false productivity, in other words, employees doing busy work to appear productive since the boss is always within sight. This issue can lead to stress for the employee due to the perception of being constantly watched and result in a lack of focus on real work.
Perhaps the biggest challenge though is for introverts. People in this category often need solitude and quiet space even if just periodically throughout the workday, and open workspaces can be an energy drain for them. So, what is the best way to manage an open workspace environment that meets the needs of all employees?
If you’re a decision maker, consider designing or incorporating quiet spaces where employees can move to as needed, particularly helpful if employees have laptops. Also, encourage employees to adjust the space to work best for them, whether this is listening to music with earbuds, setting boundaries with coworkers such as designated quiet times, or allowing flexibility to work away from the team for times when great focus is needed. For certain roles, it may even be appropriate to allow some remote work at home flexibility.
If you work in an open office, consider your surroundings. If you’re the extrovert sitting next to the introvert, be mindful when your neighbor may need some uninterrupted focus time. If you are the one in need of a distraction free zone, speak up. Ask your neighbors for the quiet time or space to work on a project. See if rearranging your seating or desk set up is helpful to block out noise and distractions.
Overall, studies conclude that while there may be challenges, there are numerous benefits to be considered. With some alterations, it is a setup that can work for everyone. If you don’t work in an open workspace now, you might very well in the near future, so making it work for you is the smart choice. It looks like this is one trend that’s here to stay.
In a previous blog post, we talked about privacy as it relates to fitness wearable devices. To continue on the privacy vein, let’s examine smart speakers like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri. If you use any of these devices, you know the convenience associated with voice commands. Need the time? Alexa has it. Want to know some obscure movie fact? Ask Siri. Need to buy paper towels? Tell Google Home. Easy peasy, right? In today’s busy world of work, events, and to do lists, these devices lend a helpful hand, but at the price of consumer privacy.
Recently, both Google and Amazon filed patents to allow even broader abilities to listen in on consumer lives. Rather than waiting for a wake command as the speakers do now, the device would always be on and listening for keywords, but what is it doing with that information? According to both companies, the information would be used to target advertising based on the collected data. Say, you’re sitting around the dinner table discussing your next family vacation and then Alexa starts to recite travel deals to your target destination? How about Google Home listening to you discuss your medical issue with a friend and then offering related prescription ads? What about recognizing your mood, or an oncoming cold based on a sneeze, or an argument with your spouse? Google Home could even suggest parenting tactics based on its monitoring of your family interactions. You should spend more time with Susie, Google says. Do you want all of that in the cloud for advertisers to mill through? Is this level of technology cool or creepy?
While these assistants can be a source of convenience, we’d be remiss not to consider the potential consequences. Could information collected from smart speakers be used in a court of law? Are they discoverable? Could anything obtained be used for a conviction? Technology often moves faster than the law, but the law is catching up. Consider the Arkansas murder case where investigators wanted to use information gathered by Amazon’s smart speaker, Echo belonging to the suspect. Amazon jumped in citing First Amendment protections, an important step in setting a precedent for how this technology could be handled in the future. The suspect ended up granting permission for the data to be collected, but in future cases, consent and rights will need heavy consideration. For an innocent person accused of a crime or the unfortunate victim, the smoking gun, in this case, could be a home assistant device. But take a moment to consider the flip side. Could a conversation taken out of context lead to suspicion in the event something goes afoul, making it difficult to defend oneself? Do you really want your casual conversations used against you in a court of law?
As with much of current technology, consumers need to weigh the pros and cons of adopting smart devices. You must ask yourself the question is giving the device full access to your life, habits, interests, and vices worth the convenience? Where is the line and once we cross it, can we ever go back?
If you’ve managed people for any amount of time, you know that engaged employees are the key to a successful company. There are plenty of tips and theories for creating and improving engagement, but I want to focus on one in particular- goal setting.
Let’s start with the basics. Do you set professional goals for yourself? Do you ask your team to set goals? Are your team’s goals aligned with the company’s objectives? Hopefully, you work in a transparent and communicative company that openly shares business goals and objectives, but if you don’t, take the initiative to share what you can with your team. Next, start the process by working with each person on your team to create S.M.A.R.T. goals, ultimately improving their chances of success. Finally, help the employee understand how the completion of their individual goals ties into the overall success of the company.
Creating meaningful workplace goals is one way to encourage and nurture engagement in highly valued employees. Ensure you have a scheduled follow up plan to meet with each individual to provide encouragement, answer questions and remove obstacles if necessary. This step will help the employee feel valued and accountable to the process.
For the employee, there are numerous benefits to goal setting in the workplace. Engaged employees need challenges and development beyond their normal job duties, and goals are one way to achieve this. Goal setting can help career path opportunities, providing a future the employee can see and work toward. A leader being invested in their team’s success leads to trust in management and personal accountability, with the bonus effect of feeling personally connected to the company and department’s success.
For the manager, goal setting for yourself and your team assists with performance management. When it comes time to write team reviews and self-assessments, you’ll have plenty of material to use as examples. Engaged and happy employees are more productive and have high morale, and who wouldn’t want a team with those traits? You’re also encouraging your team to grow, develop and create a career path with the company. All these benefits lead to the biggest one of all- employee retention. The worst feeling is getting a resignation of a valued employee handed to you because they felt they had no future. You realize too late that you didn’t spend enough time with that individual to help them see how valued they were. While we can’t prevent attrition entirely, we can use the tools we have to create a workplace where employees grow, thrive and want to work.
You can’t talk about eDiscovery without also discussing Artificial Intelligence and its potential impacts on the industry. Some people hear the term and jump to Sci-Fi movies and robots taking over, but it’s much more nuanced than that. You may be wondering how your job will be affected by this new technology. Or maybe you openly embrace technological enhancements. Perhaps you’re in the ‘just ignore it’ camp. You might even have “Skynet becomes self-aware” flashbacks. Whichever bucket you fall in, the fact remains AI is a subject that isn’t going away anytime soon. In many industries, including legal, AI and machine learning is already a thing. While there isn’t a squad of robots running review protocol just yet, smart companies are already leveraging this technology. Here’s a look at just two areas benefitted by embracing the AI movement.
AI is already hard at work transforming how discovery is done. Gone are the days of attorneys sifting through boxes of documents. Thankfully, that time-consuming process has been replaced by electronic options. As these solutions evolve, we’ve seen the benefits of AI implemented through machine learning capabilities. Slogging through documents looking for that elusive needle in the haystack is now aided by software solutions with features like near-duplicate detection, email threading, and predictive coding. The benefits are obvious- less time spent on the tedious tasks equals more time to spend on meaningful work, which equals cost savings in the long run.
Understandably, the implementation of technology that does the tasks formerly completed by a human worker can cause some uncertainty and anxiety. There are certainly many theories out there about replacing the entire workforce with an army of robots, but that’s just not realistic. At least not anytime soon. There are just some roles, especially in the legal industry, that a human will always be the preferable choice. Let’s look at this common scenario. You’re a seasoned attorney with a large litigation case. The discovery files are in the many terabytes range. Back in the day, you’d have to employ, train, and provide a workspace for who knows how many junior attorneys to complete this task that would likely take many months to finish. You would have to rely on your training and the employee’s competency to locate the required documents needed for the case. There would be challenges- answering questions, employees calling out sick, performance issues. You must manage the project, the case, and the people. Sound familiar?
The solution is not a robot that will replace all the humans, but technology that assists the humans. Instead of eliminating jobs, you’ll be improving job quality by freeing up time from menial, time- consuming tasks for value-added services. The people you have doing review will be more efficient and productive. Rather than digging through documents only to see the same content numerous times, Technology Assisted Review will locate those documents through machine learning features. For the product manager, using technology to assist with identifying and sorting concepts from documents, can arm you with information that will help you make the most of your review time. The project is more efficient, deadlines are met, below budget and everyone is happy. Doesn’t that sound better?
Look, technology won’t go away just by squeezing your eyes closed, so it’s best to be ahead of the game and embrace it. Learning about the direction, benefits and limitations of AI can eliminate a lot of the fear and ambiguity surrounding the topic. Artificial Intelligence is not waiting for us in the future- it’s here. How will you use it?
For information on how Ipro can help you embrace machine learning technology, click here.
One of the many powerful tools available for use in litigation is video. Video can be used to tell a story, depict a day in the life of someone, see the actual event happening, see a witness’s demeanor during examination, substitute for a witness who cannot attend the trial in person, impeachment and the list goes on. From the early days of 8mm film, followed by VHS tapes to today’s digital video, this tool is an essential part of almost every trial.
When an attorney used 8mm film, VHS tapes or LaserDisc, the setup and use was straightforward. Someone would hook up the player to a projector or TV and when they needed it, they pressed the play button. Pretty easy. Once digital video came into the mix, things started to get complicated. While you still hook up to a projector or TV and press the play button, digital video has some potential complications that can add a degree of difficulty you really don’t need at trial.
One of the most common digital formats and the focus of this blog is MPEG. MPEG is an acronym for Moving Pictures Experts Group. This group of authorities set the standards for audio/video compression and transmission of the digital files that everyone “abides” by. These standards set the compressed data format to a standard video compression specification. Creation of these digital files requires software known as a “video codec” that includes an encoder that can compress the video into a smaller file size and a decoder that will decompress the files for playback. More on video codecs later.
The original MPEG standard that was first developed and released in 1993 was called MPEG-1. This standard is still very much in use today and has continuously been recommended, especially in litigation, because MPEG-1 doesn’t require anything special to make it work. Using an MPEG-1 video compression algorithm, a 120-minute video would be compressed to about 1.2 GB. MPEG-2 is a standard that has been adopted by most of the movie producing companies because of the higher visual quality of video available during playback. The compression algorithm of MPEG-2 would take a 120-minute video and compress it to about 4GB – 8GB, but with a much higher quality than MPEG-1. With the eruption of the internet, MPEG-4 has steadily become the standard of choice thanks to its high level of compression while maintaining a high level of quality during playback. One of the many reasons that MPEG-4 has become popular is that its compression algorithm will compress a 120-minute video to about 300MB and maintain a very high quality. Choosing a video format essentially becomes a comparison between power, speed, storage capacity and fidelity or quality of the video and the requirements to play the video, i.e. video codecs.
When it comes to working with digital video files, the number one culprit that causes issues is the video codec. If you have ever had audio play, but not the video or had some MPEG files play but not others, it is because the video codec is incompatible. Video playback software that came pre-installed or was installed after the fact may install their own codec and you can have multiple codecs installed on the same computer. When this happens there are potential conflicts and it is unknown what codec will be used with what video. The problem is consistently found when dealing with MPEG-2 video files and less of an issue with the other MPEG formats. There are several packages commercially available that can be used to determine what codecs are installed and what may or may not be conflicting.
A secondary issue when dealing with digital video that may be encountered is that not all digital video is created equally. Just because the format is MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 doesn’t mean that it is compliant or compatible with the player. One thing to verify is if the video was created using a constant bit rate or a variable bit rate. Another possible area to check is if within the file format, standards or “parts” have been included. For example, MPEG-4 Part 8, is video formatted using a method to carry the content on IP networks. Another would be MPEG-4 – H.264 or Part 10 that supports video resolutions up to 4096×2304 or 4K UHD. Making sure that your video codec supports constant or variable bit rates and parts or variants to a format will help alleviate some of the potential issues you may encounter.
When it comes to working with video files and having issues, find out who/what created the video, if there are any non-standard or non-compliant issues and what video codecs are installed on the computer. Taking these steps to resolve any issues beforehand is critical to a smooth presentation and keeping your focus where it needs to be at trial.
Cheesy 80’s song reference aside, privacy in the age of smart EVERYTHING is a serious concern. While it’s convenient, helpful, and even seductive to have all this technology at our fingertips, or wrists as it were, we would be remiss not to consider what we’re giving up in exchange.
Consider the situation recently experienced when a user discovered her entire jogging route was made public for strangers to view at their leisure. As a single woman who often ran in the early morning or evening hours in an urban setting, this is beyond alarming. Or, the unintentional national security risk unleashed when Strava published a global heat map that identified secret military outposts. Not good. Many fitness trackers have a social aspect that encourages users to interact with others, great for motivation and comradery. The tradeoff? You’re giving up your location information. It can also provide your full name and picture. It wouldn’t be a tough leap from there to figure out another user’s patterns, routes, workplace, and residence. That’s pretty high on the creepy scale.
Another common trend popping up is insurance and wellness programs encouraging the use of fitness wearables, often offering discounts or points for achieving specific activities. Many people are excited to sign up for these programs as a way to motivate themselves to live healthier lives. But what if the insurance company uses that data at a later date to determine you are not as healthy as they would like and raises your premiums? Or, the seemingly helpful suggestion of programs and tips to help you meet your goals but penalizes you if those goals are not met. What if you find your car insurance rates going up based on your driving habits derived from a fitness wearable? Is this still a good tradeoff for clocking your daily steps?
The law is paying attention too. Fitness trackers are being used to prove injury after an accident in the form of reduced activity, or in some cases, to prove insurance fraud when the tracker shows activity that doesn’t match the person’s injury claims. It can also be used to identify your whereabouts when a crime was committed- a potential alibi or smoking gun, as the case may be. In one situation, a woman was charged with making a false crime report after her Fitbit contradicted her timeline. With unclear guidelines on what is protected and isn’t, it seems the data from your wearable can and will be used against you in a court of law.
In response to these privacy concerns, some companies have made improvements. Fitbit, for example, voluntarily complied with HIPAA in order to partner with corporate wellness programs. Also, many companies have changed their default settings to opt-in rather than opt-out as was the case before. These are positive changes in a world where personal privacy is at a premium.
Once you’ve done all that, there’s only one thing left to do. Get up and kill that daily step goal.
With almost all marketing associated with eDiscovery, Law Firms, Providers and Software companies alike tout that an advantage of using Acme Company is “Efficiency,” but how are people measuring efficiency? A year ago, at our Ipro Innovations conference, we had a breakout session where we posed the question “Do you know your cost per GB?” Of the 40 or so attendees at that session, not a single person raised their hand. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone was surprised by that non-reaction. Yet here we are claiming “I am the most efficient person in all the land”.
For those who know me, I am an avid fan of the show Shark Tank. I am always impressed by how well prepared the “Pitchers” are with being able to regurgitate their numbers- cost per unit, cost to ship, if we can get a bigger Purchase Order we can use a manufacturer that will drop the price per unit by $0.32. Why can’t our industry do the same? Do we care? Is the pricing model too convoluted? Is it impossible to calculate all the factors? Project Management, Software, Hardware, Storage, Technicians, to name a few. Everyone states that pricing is a “Race to the Bottom,” so there is more pressure on companies involved with hosting to be as aggressive as possible on pricing.
But if efficiency is truly important and a market differentiator, shouldn’t it be emphasized from the top down? When speaking with Chief Officers, Directors and others involved with the bottom line they are interested in how to become efficient. Experience tells us, that’s where the discussion stops. When a company is looking to evaluate a new solution, tool or workflow, the details are usually handed off to an analyst of some sort to go through a spreadsheet of some “374” line items of features they must test. Rarely in my experience have I seen a spreadsheet like this contain something associated with “efficiency.” More importantly, if the analyst decrees that the solution they are evaluating doesn’t have “27” items they want then that solution is deemed a non-solution. But wait, what if a solution allowed you to gain 32% more efficiency overall and those items deemed as non-starters only pertain to 6% of your projects. Does the 32% efficiency on the 94% outweigh the 6%? Do you have a way to calculate that information? Shouldn’t it be weighed? Does the analyst have any guidance as to how to measure that?
I was talking to a CTO just a few weeks back after Legal Week in New York, and we were both lamenting the perception that our industry is so unique we can’t treat our businesses like others outside our industry. Business is business is business, and if you don’t know your numbers, how can you make decisions on pricing, staffing, ROI, TCO? How do you teach your staff about the importance of efficiency? Data sizes are not going down, but pricing is. Wouldn’t the ultimate goal be to do more with the same? With outsiders starting to take an active interest in the direction of eDiscovery maybe it’s time to start paying attention to more than the top line revenue and EBITDA alone. And for some, how do you get an offer from one of the Sharks?