Thursday, May 14, 2009

New column on Slaw

In case you haven't seen it yet, I have a new column out on, the Canadian legal/tech collaborative blog website.

In this column I highlight something that is concerning a number of people in the eDiscovery world: the need for basic research to determine just how effective our eDiscovery tools and methodologies are.

Why is this important?

Well, I think in all the excitement (for us geeks, anyway) over how cool the technology is, it's easy to forget that the end point of all this whiz-bang technology is to find the relevant evidence and get it admitted in court. For something to be admissible you need (to a greater or lesser extent) to be able to demonstrate that the evidence is what it purports to be.

Without some basic research, there is a danger that we will all just assume that Tool X or Process Y does what we think it does because no-one has ever really checked to see if it really does do that or not.

The TREC Legal Track project is a good example of the kind of much-needed research that should be performed. I hope to see much more like it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Summation Tip of the Week #2

This originally went out by email in mid-April.

Using Summation for tracking undertakings

This week’s tip explains a simple way to use Summation to help you track undertakings – both yours and those of opposing counsel.

How does it work?

If you are fortunate enough to have electronic copies of transcripts in Summation-ready format, you can use Summation’s searching abilities to help you find undertakings quickly.

First you import the transcript into Summation, and then use Summation’s search features to help you find the undertakings.

By searching on the word “undertaking” or “undertake”, or even words like “give” and “copy”, you will be able to find most instances of where either you or opposing counsel have agreed to undertakings. Once you’ve found an undertaking, you can create a transcript note to mark the spot and help you track the status of the undertaking.

In the transcript note itself, you will be able to:

  • Add any additional comments (such as the bates number of the document or the status of the undertaking)
  • Add issue codes to the note (such as “undertaking”, “refused”, “our undertaking”)
  • Add a link directly to the document in question if you have it in your Summation case or on your network in electronic format

Pros and Cons

Some advantages of tracking undertakings this way include:

  • Being able to quickly locate undertakings in one or more transcripts
  • Being able to run reports from issue codes to find undertakings and their status
  • Tracking of additional information that you include in your transcript note (such as the date of the request, and who asked for it)
  • Having quick access to the document in question directly from the transcript
  • Being able to quickly run a report and provide it to opposing counsel

Some things to bear in mind with tracking undertakings this way:

  • Not everyone will actually use easily identifiable words when referring to an undertaking. A lawyer might just say “we can get that to you” – and so you should be aware that simply searching the transcript with typical keywords might not be enough.
  • You have to keep the transcript notes up-to-date for them to be the most useful to you – you might find this more trouble than it’s worth.

Hope you all find this useful! If you want to get these tips by email, drop me an email at dtwestwood (at) intechgration (dot) com.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Leg@lIT 3.0, upcoming articles, and other news . . .

I've been busy the past few weeks!

First was my second CompTIA A+ exam, which I passed with flying colours: I am now a certified A+ IT technician which basically means I now know not to change out the memory in my laptop unless I'm wearing leather soled shoes and cotton clothes, standing on a rubber mat in an environment that is not overly dry, and have an anti-static wrist strap on. Okay, I know a little more than that, but studying for it did help plug a few of the more annoying gaps in my learned-on-the-job IT skills.

Then it was preparing for the LegalIT 3.0 conference in Montreal where I was giving a presentation on the "Virtual Road to Trial" with Sharon Redding of Bell Canada and Kelly Inglese of McCarthy's (Nicholas Trottier stood in for Kelly at the last minute). (I also have a white paper that I did for the conference on the use of technology throughout litigation which has not yet been published - contact me for a copy). I tweeted live from the conference which was kind of fun, although I'm sure I missed some of the points made in the presentations as a result.

After I got back from Montreal, I jumped straight into doing some actual client work, and I've also been preparing some presentations and articles ("eDiscovery Mythbusters", "eDiscovery - what it means for you" (for a US paralegal association) and an upcoming Slaw post).

All of which is a long winded way of saying that's why I haven't posted anything to the blog in a while, and for those of you that get my Summation Tip of the Week, that's also why you haven't had one for a couple of weeks!