Olympian achievement

By | 27th September 2012

For rather less time, and over shorter distances than the heroic Mo Farah, Millnet’s blog has been running for over three years now. The actual anniversary was lost in the euphoria surrounding the stellar performance of Team GB at the Olympics, followed closely by the team’s spectacular efforts in the Paralympics which followed.

Apart from holidays, I cannot recall a time when there has been so little visible activity on this blog! I would like to claim that it is all a giant post Olympic hangover but the truth is more prosaic in that the Millnet team has been working on some exciting new projects for clients both old and new.

Added to that, we have our forthcoming trip to the US to plan, when my colleague Naj Bueno and I will be attending the Fall Conference of Litigation Counsel of America in West Palm Beach, Florida, following which I will be passing through New Orleans and Atlanta while Naj will be in Chicago and Miami.

But, enough of excuses! It has been a busy time but that is always preferable to sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

So what have we been up to? Obviously I cannot go into the details of instructions received or cases discussed with clients, but I am pleased to be able to say that there is now a steady stream of cases involving US law firms as well as some interesting cases from more established clients.

The one constant factor appears to be an interest in predictive coding. To date, there appears to be little appetite for getting to grips with the CPR changes due in April 2013 despite the fact that a search of our own blog reveals that I have written about this subject on no fewer than nine occasions since May this year!

I will have something to say about April’s Big Bang shortly but for the moment I want to concentrate on predictive coding. If I have said once that it is a hot topic, I have said it many times during this year and so it proves with lawyers wanting to know more about what it is and what their options are.

I have written about the subject from time to time during recent months as we have used these techniques more and more. For example, whereas we had employed predictive coding approximately 5 or 6 times in 2010 we are now using it 5 or 6 times each month on real live cases, with many other occasions where the use of predictive coding is considered but thought to be inappropriate and others where the timing was not right. These cases will come again I feel sure.

One of the recent highlights for me was, interestingly, not a case, but a webinar for a medium sized US law firm. Our recent talk was attended by an estimated 125 lawyers from their offices all over the country and the feedback shows a growing awareness of the benefits of the technology and a real willingness to learn how it can help clients.

So not exactly a post-Olympic hangover, more a sense that, while it is very sad that the festivities are over, the problems facing litigators and their clients have not gone away in the interim.

Two further snippets:

  • Vol. 23 Issue 3 of the Computers & Law magazine (August/September 2012) carries an article by Chris Dale called Predictive Coding = Proportionality. As you will all be aware, Chris is a former litigation lawyer who has become one of the e-disclosure community’s foremost speakers and commentators. His article is naturally well worth a read but I have picked out two nuggets for those not already convinced that predictive coding is for them:
  1. “The best way to look at predictive coding is a means of relegating the least relevant material so that it is looked at, if at all, later in the process and perhaps by junior fee-earners”.
  2. “Predictive coding technology itself is not new-anti-spam software uses a form of it to decide whether the characteristics of an email, including the recipients’ prior decisions, make it probable that the email is spam”. We are all familiar with that.
  • I said I would come back to Big Bang. Writing in The Lawyer, Katy Dowell talks about fee disclosure hitting the big time as it is about to become a feature of all civil cases [’Fessing up about fees, The Lawyer, 24th September, 2012]. In case you missed it, one of the Jackson reforms likely to come into effect next April is that all court users will be under an obligation to produce a costs budget in advance of the full trial hearing. You can update it as you go along but you will need court approval and woe betide you if you do not, as the recent case of Henry v News Group Newspapers  [Sylvia Henry v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2012] EWHC 90218 (Costs)] showed.

See also: Keeping up with the Joneses, 29th June, 2012