A poke in the eye

By | 16th September 2010

idea of poking someone in the eye with the end of a biro is not one which occupies my mind a lot. I have to say, however, that the prospect of damage is high. The mere thought of a sharp pointed object being forcibly thrust into a soft and delicate object like an eye not only makes me squirm but is obviously an action liable to cause extreme pain and harm.

I had not thought about this until confronted recently with the problem at the entrance to one of our revered temples of cricket (to save embarrassment I will not say which one and I have been to three of our Test Match grounds recently). Having queued briefly to gain entrance to the ground I arrived at the place where you and your bags are searched these days clutching a very small can of sparkling water which I had been given free by enthusiastic promoters working the queue. I intended to drink it when in my seat but one of the ground’s vigilant staff members told me I could not take it in as it was a possible offensive weapon and it would have to be confiscated. The alternative was to drink it there and then which, being of a cussed nature, I duly did.

While drinking it down I engaged the member of staff in conversation and asked why I was unable to take into the ground a small can containing a soft drink when there was no objection to my biro or indeed my bunch of keys, both of which I thought might be regarded as more dangerous. The staff member was unfailingly polite and could give no reason other than that was the rule and then said with finality: “I don’t make the rules, I just work here.”

I decided not to go down the route of questioning this variation of the Nuremburg defence and we parted amicably enough after I had drunk the contents of the can and deposited it in the rubbish bin thoughtfully provided for these occasions.

There are a number of variations to the “ I just work here” answer, such as “I just twist them to my purpose” or “I just play the game” but the one I like best is “Not all of them anyway!”

The last one seems to me to offer a glimmer of informed and sensible thought as opposed to the mindless and uninformed approach of the other jobsworths.

Oddly enough I was reminded of this incident when I was discussing with a colleague how firms might improve their standing in this age of interactive websites, social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter and, of interest to us at Millnet specifically, the ever increasing use of technology to assist lawyers with the number of sources of storing material which may need to be examined before a first pass review, an early case assessment or disclosure.

In this field, as in so many others, it does not do to be unthinking. Recently, I read an article by Emma Barnett. Emma is the Telegraph Media Group’s Digital Media Editor and she was writing about the launch of MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival in Sheffield. One of the topics was a digital masterclass with Doug Richard of Dragons’ Den fame on how to leverage commercially the benefits of the web. [Too many firms need to update their status online, Sunday Telegraph , 5th  Sep 2010]

What particularly caught my attention was the penultimate paragraph which reads as follows:

Weirdly, it’s still thought by some to be “cool” to be “un-tech” and claim you have no knowledge of all the new “gadgetry”. However, the days where technology was seen as being just for geeks have been and gone. The tangible benefits that harnessing the web really can bring to businesses are ignored by British entrepreneurs of all ages at their peril.

Likewise, I believe that the days when it was thought to be acceptable (although possibly not “cool”) to ignore the availability and the benefits of technology in the field of litigation and disclosure have surely “been and gone.”

Last week, we were called in to see a medium sized law firm who had not previously instructed us. Nothing new in that but what was particularly gratifying was that the lawyers had decided to call us in within hours of first being instructed on the case. Time will tell whether this will be of benefit to the end client but I believe that the advice we were able to give at that very early stage will reap huge benefits and costs savings for that client as we were able to advise on and influence the overall collection, processing and disclosure strategy from the outset.

There is a lesson there and increasingly it is one which law firms have learned.

That must be better than a poke in the eye!?


Editorial note.  “A poke in the eye” is Charles Holloway’s 100th post on the Smart e-Discovery blog. To have reached the ton in barely over a year since we started (I make that two a week, allowing for the occasional contemplative week off on a beach somewhere) is a massive achievement considering there were a few detractors (not this detractor) who thought he and this blog would never reach double figures. Congratulations Charles, long may you blog!