By | 21st March 2013

I would not want you to think that I spent all my recent skiing trip pondering the technical aspects of computer assisted review.

In fact, I confess to spending almost all my recent seven days in Austria doing nothing much except enjoying the atmosphere, the food and, by and large, the snow conditions.

However, one day, while looking out over the snow capped Omesberg from the terrace of a mountain hostelry, nursing a well earned glass of Jagertee (rum and hot water, should you want to know), the strains of Elgar’s Nimrod, wafted over the speaker system. Listen here:

Who was Nimrod?

My wife did not know and nor did the others I asked later in the day, so I decided to look him up. I discovered that Nimrod was, according to the Book of Genesis, the son of Cush and the great-grandson of Noah.

What is more, according to both Hebrew and Christian tradition, Nimrod is considered to have been the leader of the people who built the Tower of Babel. This all came about generations after the Flood when humanity, all speaking the same language, descended on the land of Shinar and resolved to build a tower which would reach “unto heaven.” Of course, the Old Testament God had other ideas and scattered the people and confused the languages so that they would not be able to return to each other.

I am not sure what God’s purpose was in all this but the image of  the Tower of Babel is a familiar one and there are still hundreds of different languages spoken throughout the world to this day.

Today, we have confusion over the new CPR Rules and the various amendments which followed all too swiftly on from what was already late publication. We also have confusion over what is being offered to the legal profession by those who seek to sell their wares or their services to hard pressed litigators and their increasingly impoverished clients.

During the course of a recent discussion with three lawyers from a medium size regional law firm, I was told that I was not the first vendor to want to tell them about the advantages of the technology which is available to their clients but, surprisingly, I was the first who had bothered to listen to what the lawyers actually needed. These poor chaps had endured a number of presentations from companies bursting to tell them how their particular offerings could help the lawyers deal with international arbitrations worth billions of dollars/pounds/ renminbi with terabytes of documents in more than twenty different languages involving hundreds of custodians. All very interesting, I am sure, but not what they wanted to hear because the average case they dealt with day in day out was not a dispute between oligarchs arguing about the billions owed allegedly by one to the other, but usually concerned a claim for damages which at best might amount to a few thousand pounds, was all in English, involved two or three people at most and where there was a limited amount of paper/data to be considered.

In other words what was being described to them was about as remote from the reality and the daily life of lawyers in their firm as Mars is from Pluto or, in my situation at the time I was listening to Elgar, about as far from the top of the nearest black run to safety and a glass of something restorative down the mountain.

I have asserted previously that there is little point in telling lawyers what they don’t want/need to hear by dressing it up in incomprehensible jargon. Equally there is no point in offering lawyers solutions to problems they have not yet encountered and which, frankly, they are highly unlikely to encounter in the future.

By doing so we do all our industry a disservice and lawyers will rightly regard us with suspicion if not disdain.

We might as well be scattered from the fabled Tower of Babel for all the sense we bring in such circumstances to the debate about making litigation fairer, more cost effective and efficient. It is ironic, to say the least, that the introduction of the new CPR rules about disclosure, budgets and costs management has been so poorly handled, but that is another story!

I think I will go back to listening to the uplifting melodies of Sir Edward Elgar.