Smarter than the average Berra

By | 29th November 2012

It is that time of year again when predictions are flying about and, as anyone who has been asked to make predictions will tell you, predictions do not get any easier. In fact, it has been said, “predictions are difficult, especially about the future.”

You may imagine my delight when I heard that quotation at the recent 7th Annual e-Disclosure Forum in London organised by Thomson Reuters. While I had been brought up on cartoon characters such as Huckleberry Finn, the Flintstones and above all, my favourite, Yogi Bear, I never expected to hear Yogi quoted at a serious conference on e-disclosure.

I may have missed the next few minutes of the session as I mused on the antics of the cartoon bear, his companion Boo-Boo and the scrapes they got into with Jellystone Park’s own Ranger Smith. It was, therefore, with some bewilderment and dismay that I subsequently learned that, clever as he was in his bearish way, Yogi had never uttered the words in question. It was, in fact, the American baseball player of  the postwar era by the name of Yogi Berra.

Disappointment? Certainly! But then, I thought, it fits well with the attitude adopted in this blog of a partly serious and partly light hearted look at the world of e-discovery. Yogi Berra is apparently well known for the quick quip between games and is said to have coined the phrase “It’s not all over, until it’s over” although I don’t think he included reference to the Fat Lady.

So, once more, in the spirit of Christmas (fast approaching) and a bit of fun, here are some partly serious and partly light hearted predictions for 2013:

  • The changes to the CPR due in April 2013 will bring about a change in the way lawyers view litigation under their control. Despite the fact that the Government and the Rules Committee seem to be particularly coy about publishing the new rules contained in Part 2 of LASPO which give effect to the Jackson reforms, lawyers will, almost by magic, start to accept that technology works, will even come to rely on it and will engage with the litigation support and vendor community in ways undreamed of in 2012.
  • Sadly, there will be at least one further instance of a successful party being unable to claim their costs because they or their advisers failed to be transparent about the costs being incurred or failed to gain court approval for the increase in the previous estimate. Do I hear cries of “Precedent H. What is precedent H?”
  • There will be a realisation among lawyers and third party vendors that there is money to be made from advising clients about litigation readiness, document retention policies, due diligence and corporate governance, all of which are issues I am beginning to hear lawyers talk about now.
  • There will be (yet another) serious data privacy breach which will cause law firms and their clients and anyone involved in handling data to re-evaluate how they approach this problem and to take it seriously. As a lawyer at the same conference  memorably put it the other day “Disaster is the best trigger to open the pocket book.”
  • There will be a measurable increase in digital data, by which I mean not just paper and emails but evidence from sources such as audio, video, CCTV etc.
  • The days of the unfettered ability to write often scurrilous tweets about all and sundry will be brought abruptly to a close and not necessarily just because certain ill advised individuals have fallen foul of the entirely justified wrath of Lord McAlpine. There is a growing sense that the twitterati (of which I am an occasional member myself) have got out of control and my bet is that someone somewhere will be sufficiently incensed to do something about it.
  • Social media will continue to increase in importance to individuals and businesses alike. But, how long before the first big security breach as a direct result of BYOD (Bring your own Device)? It could be in 2013.
  • There will be no British General Election in 2013. The coalition agreement will hold through a series of gritted teeth on both sides. I do not descend into politics nationally or internationally in this blog but it seems to me that there is nothing in it for the members of the coalition to bring it to an end. Likewise, Greece will continue to be bailed out and will not be forced out of the euro, the weakness and unreliability of which will continue to drag down our efforts here to get out of recession. This is the stuff of overweening politicians!

I could go on, and doubtless others will. There is a risk, however, that if we are not careful, someone like Yogi Berra will say (as he apparently did) “it’s like déjà vu, all over again.”

Photo: Yogi Berra (b 1925) by Googie Man (Creative Commons GNU Free Documentation License)