Monthly Archives: October 2012


Every now and again I come across an article containing a description of an aspect of the e-discovery/disclosure process which really hits the spot.

Craig Ball’s recent article “Are they trying to screw me?” [Ball in your court, 9th October, 2012] is a case in point.

Craig is one of the best commentators on e-discovery matters and his articles are always worth a read but in the spirit of this blog (a partly serious and a partly light hearted look at the world of e-discovery) I want to draw particular attention to this piece because it takes a number of concepts which regularly baffle lawyers trying to come to terms with the jargon of e-discovery and turns them into something easy to understand and remember.

Please read the article but let me paint a brief picture (can a picture be brief?) to whet your appetite for the meat it contains.

Lawyers in both the US and in England and Wales are obliged to discuss what documents they are going to disclose to one another and in what format. In the US there is the Rule 26(f) ‘Meet and Confer’ procedure where counsel are supposed to agree such matters. In England and Wales Practice Direction 31B rule 8 serves the same purpose in respect of discussions before the first Case Management Conference.

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The tail of fork handles

Do you know a homonym from a heteronym or a homograph from a homophone? And what about capitonyms and polysemes?

Confused? Well I am not surprised. You have to be an expert in linguistics to be able to reel off the definition of each word and in any event there is a relatively simple way of describing each concept in words we can all readily understand (see below).

I came across a clever example of this art on Twitter recently. This is not a short piece on the merits of that particular part of the social media sphere but a bit of fun with a more serious underlying message.

The tweet (which I was happy to retweet) was by someone calling herself European Girl about the difficulties of learning the English language: Why Spellcheck is such a waste of time.

The problem she identifies is that in English there are many words which look and sound the same but mean something different or which look the same but sound different. If you read her poem you will see what I mean. (Example word : produce: with the accent on the last syllable it is a verb but with the accent on the first syllable it is a noun.)

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Going it alone

A number of commentators have reported on recent developments in the insourcing/outsourcing arena. The latest report concerns Chicago based Drinker Biddle & Reath which has set up its own subsidiary which seeks to recover income lost to outside discovery/review attorneys and third party vendors.

It so happens that I had had a whiff of this development when it was mentioned to me by a couple of the Drinker Biddle partners with whom I was in touch a few weeks ago. I had assumed then that this was confidential but am delighted now to have the opportunity to comment on the development following the comments on Twitter and Google+ by Jonathan Maas and Chris Dale respectively and the article in Law Technology News by Gina Passarella:  Drinker Biddle Forms an E-Discovery Subsidiary [LTN, 28th September, 2012].

Every so often, our industry becomes fixated with a particular issue. Recently it has been the increasing prevalence of predictive coding but a year or so ago it was the relative merits of outsourcing, so Gina’s article is interesting not just because it contains comments on the decision by a major law firm to insource their e-discovery and attorney review function but also because it suggests that whether to bring the e-discovery function and attorney review in house is an issue which now confronts a wider range of law firms.

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Running to the beat

Pheidippides is not a name to conjure with.In fact, it is doubtful whether more than a small percentage of the population will recognise the name or know for what he is allegedly famous.

Despite that, thousands of people, possibly millions, have enjoyed the spectacle this summer of the sporting event which was instituted in his memory. In 490 BC, King Darius of Persia was well on the way to subjugating Greece. Following a number of successes, the Persian fleet sailed for Attica and landed in the bay near the town of Marathon, famous for its fields of wild fennel (“marathos” in Greek). Despite a much smaller army, the Greeks triumphed over their stronger neighbours for the first time and Darius never realised his dream of conquering Athens.

Legend has it that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to bring the news of the Greek victory but collapsed and died of exhaustion after delivering the message. It is not known how far he ran but it is believed that it was a distance of about 25 miles. In 1896, in the first Olympics of the modern era, a race called the marathon was introduced to mark the ancient glory of Greece. The race was originally about 25 miles, the distance between Marathon and Athens.  For the London Olympics in 1908, a 26 mile course between Windsor Castle and White City Stadium had been set, and then a further 385 yards added so that  the runners could finish in front of the Royal Box, a distance which has since become standard.

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Jackson’s rocket

Earlier this year, we ran a mini series of podcasts on the Millnet iPadio Channel dealing with the hot topic of predictive coding.

While that doubtless left all our listeners with a warm glow, the nights are drawing in and it seems the right time to turn our attention in the next podcasts to what has been called Big Bang. No, not Guy Fawkes but there are important changes, due to come into effect in April 2013, which are likely to have an explosive impact on much of the litigation in this country.

The changes relate to:

  • An extension of the requirement to exchange information about documents to all multi track cases, not involving personal injury.
  • Active judicial case management particularly around the new disclosure menu option and the methods to be adopted.

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