Takeaways from the 2016 eDiscovery Conference Tour: GICLI, EDI, & Masters

Adam Kuhn
October 31, 2016

Cyber security, cloud consolidation, and continuous learning were among the hottest topics at this Fall’s eDiscovery conferences.                                                                                

The eDiscovery industry has a highly specialized community and our conferences offer a valuable opportunity to exchange knowledge, network, and learn from the best. Recommind (now OpenText Discovery) sponsors a number of these events and I had the privilege of spending much of the last month with judges, thought leaders, and practitioners at the GICLI, EDI, & Masters Conferences. Each conference was impressive in its own right, and here are some of my experiences and takeaways.

Government Investigations and Civil Litigation Institute (Ft. Lauderdale, Oct 10-11)

The newest conference, GICLI celebrated its second year this past week in Ft. Lauderdale. GICLI aims to bring together judges, federal agents, government lawyers, and their civil counterparts for training and exercises.

Recommind’s Principal Data Scientist, Alexis Mitchell, served along with Michael Simmons and Pamela Brow on the Business Intelligence and Investigations panel, which explored ways to use metadata to uncover wrongdoing. The audience engaged the panel in an intriguing dialogue about using machine learning to spot anomalous behavior surrounding data access and email communication patterns. Some good examples included network monitoring and benchmarking to create early detection systems that can alert compliance when a rogue employee suddenly starts downloading unusually large amounts of data or sending emails to off-domain contacts.


My favorite part of GICLI (apart from the police escort and impressive security afforded the federal judges in attendance) was the lunchtime mock-meet and confer hosted by Judge Facciola. Despite retiring from the bench, the judge remains an active member of the eDiscovery community, and he recently published a Federal Courts Law Review article analyzing work-product privilege in the area of seed set transparency. The exercise featured a fact-pattern with dozens of issues, many of which were plucked from cases we’ve covered in this blog like Brown v. Tellermate and Selectica v. Novatus.

Electronic Discovery Institute (Ft. Lauderdale, Oct. 13-14)

Founded in 2006 by Patrick Oot and Herbert Roitblatt, the EDI celebrated it’s 6th annual leadership summit and brought together the “who’s who” of eDiscovery. Topics ranged from Rule 37(e) updates to vendor management to advanced TAR practices.

The TAR panel was standing room only as eDiscovery attorneys queued up to learn from world class inside counsel. Continuous machine learning was a hot topic, and seemed favored by the panelists versus traditional TAR 1.0 workflows. The panel identified how continuous systems could be deployed to prioritize a review and minimize the pre-discovery negotiations over seed set disclosures and cooperative training. The panel closed with a more theoretical discussion of the “robo-lawyer,” and identified emerging AI-technologies from other industries predicted to make their way into eDiscovery within five years.


I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of corporate counsel including Paul Meyer (Willis Towers Watson), Sara Sudkamp (Kroger), and John Campbell (FedEx) on cost-shifting discovery requests, with a focus on third-party subpoenas. The panelists had extensive experience in negotiating and dealing with broad document requests for matters that their respective organizations weren’t parties to. They graciously shared model fee orders, confidentiality provisions, objection letters, and their own opinions on minimizing document burdens to third-parties through phased discovery, declarations, and more.

Masters Conference (Washington DC, Oct. 18-19)

The Masters Conference also celebrated their tenth anniversary in Washington D.C. with a multidisciplinary agenda that brought together eDiscovery, cybersecurity, InfoGov, and project management thought leaders.

Cybersecurity was a dominant topic, evidenced by no fewer than five panels that featured the term in their headline. In one session, experts provided some startling statistics on cyber threats in 2015: a 36% increase in malware (430,000,000 new pieces of malware introduced) and a 55% increase in spearfishing attacks. After sharing a disturbing anecdote about a managed review center that was attacked by ransomware, the panel theorized that such attacks would grow in sophistication and volume.


I was fortunate to moderate another impressive panel on the topic of trends in corporate discovery, joined by inside and outside counsel: Negiuiel Hicks (Hilton), Ethan Ackerman (Morgan Lewis), and Oral Pottinger (Mayer Brown). Our session was anchored in the data points collected through Ari Kaplan’s recent corporate and law firm surveys. The audience showed a high degree of engagement, asking probing questions on topics like cloud readiness and data disposition.  

Takeaways to Bolster Security: Plan, Prepare, and Vet

Across all the conferences, themes consistently emerged around bolstering security and breach response through careful advance planning. Whether for an investigation or a data breach, no one wants to be figuring out who to contact and how to respond after the fact. And as data security goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Going forward, law firms and corporations alike will continue to shift additional resources into InfoSec programs. However, the challenge with InfoSec is that a security program is only as strong as its weakest link, and when it comes to the knowledge economy there’s tension between empowering employees to work efficiently with options like BYOD and BYOC and maintaining a disciplined security program.

As for the continual migration of sensitive data (including discovery data) to the cloud, security vetting is paramount. A clear takeaway from our panel discussion at the Masters: look before you leap and vet your vendors heavily, as not all clouds or cloud-based applications are created equal.