Sitting with the C-Suite: Hal Blackman of IST Management Services

On September 4, I sat down with Hal Blackman, the founder and CEO of IST Management Services, via WebEx.  IST calls itself the “Company with Passion,” and Hal and I covered lessons learned in technology adoption, electronic records retention, and considerations for outsourcing eDiscovery.

Hal has a business background and was hired by Marriott in 1981, where he learned the importance of employee empowerment.  Hal founded IST in 1997, and states that the company is “obsessed in everything we do, from technology and process management, to people programs, and we will stop at nothing to make sure that we exceed the expectations of our clients.” (more…)

Grilled Cheese and ESI Productions

Grilled cheese sandwich in a skilletOne of the last trips that my wife and I made prior to the social distancing guidelines was to Franklin, Tennessee. We had lunch at The Grilled Cheeserie, a restaurant devoted to gourmet grilled cheese melts. The components and options for a grilled cheese—bread, cheese and add-ons—are not complex. Depending on your preferences, mood and dietary restrictions, execution will be the difference between an adequate and excellent experience. (Our experience was excellent!) A production protocol is very similar. The component parts are simple, but how you put them together in a matter makes a big difference.

Document productions are a culmination of the various steps taken to that point throughout your eDiscovery processes. This is a key point in any lawsuit. For the larger matters, with a significant volume of ESI, the keys to a document production are stability and a good overall fit in how you match the ESI Stipulation to the actual matter requirements. (more…)

How We Found a Powerfully Simple Solution to Routine eDiscovery Matters

While the focus of our blog recently has been to identify immediate large matter cost reductions in response to the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19, we wanted to take a quick detour and address an important topic. Specifically, we do not want any reader to think that we focus only on the large data matters, or that we are not in touch with the more standard cases that practitioners must manage. In fact, the vast majority of all discovery matters are fairly routine in terms of their size and complexity.

Managing eDiscovery, then, is not a one-size-fits-all proposal. However, the goal is always the same: get to the merits through a final, defensible production. How you accomplish that goal varies depending on many factors. The average eDiscovery case has minimalistic support needs.  While substantial immediate cost savings are best found in cases with more expansive eDiscovery needs, the long-term opportunity for cost savings and efficiencies can also come from incremental cost reduction on the “everyday” cases. (more…)

Buzzword Mania: Taking Your eDiscovery Strategy to the Next Level

Success in eDiscovery is determined largely by the ability to synergize “people, process and technology.” Okay, we hear your collective groan. The phrase is trite, tired and overused, which is what it is. Since it works so well for eDiscovery, however, this blog will lean in on buzzwords. Many of the “26 Annoying Phrases You Should Stop Using at Work” are included—with a few additional ones thrown in for good measure. Can you find them all? Happy searching!

The COVID-19-related changes are innumerable, as courts have been out of pocket for many weeks and litigation budget cuts are par for the course. The global pandemic will require a clear paradigm shift, requiring many teams to think outside the box on the go-forward eDiscovery case strategy and, ultimately, do more with less. (more…)

Legal Artificial Intelligence is Buzzing. Are You Ready?

Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled legal tools are reaching the market at an incredible pace. Understanding and vetting such technology is critical to ensuring better outcomes for legal projects. 

Every day, news articles in my social media feed address some new legal technology powered by AI. The promise of legal AI is incredible. We are looking forward to a future where lawyers’ efficiency and effectiveness is dramatically improved by technology’s virtually unlimited ability to scale. This blog is focused on promoting responsible and knowledgeable adoption of legal AI.

The Millionth Map.

I love old books – actually reading them, that is. Their text is a snapshot in history. One of my recent finds was a series of geography books published in 1960. The volumes included an article regarding “The Millionth Map.” This mapping project was then underway to reduce the world into 961 sections, where one inch of the map would equate to one million inches on the earth (about 16 miles).

The author’s breathless anticipation of this project was palpable. He opined at length as to the benefits of a standardized map that will make comparisons easier, and ensure everyone has access to the information.    (more…)

Calling All Professionals to Passionate eDiscovery – Part Two

As a lawyer, I attend many, many conferences. On my last conference road trip, I was grabbing dinner at the end of the evening and catching up on my basketball news at the hotel restaurant. As I was wrapping up, a few guys came in and we struck up a conversation. Like me, they were in town for the Sixth Circuit Judiciary Conference and we had a conversation which I might characterize as standard conference stuff.

Everything was perfectly “conference standard” until they heard I was going to present on eDiscovery the next morning. All of them had the same reaction: “We hate eDiscovery.” (Thanks, guys. You really know how it pumps me up when I realize everyone in the audience “hates” my topic.)

Of course their comments didn’t come as a complete surprise. This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken to a roomful of attorneys who would rather talk about anything but eDiscovery. As a trial lawyer, I am still surprised when seasoned attorneys, who excel at mastering every detail of complex litigation, view eDiscovery as a nuisance. (more…)