All posts tagged Social Media

Keep on Running

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To many of you, the last Bank Holiday might have been a bit of a washout; a non-event. There was plenty of rain to water the garden but not enough sunshine to enjoy any time there. In Mother Nature’s fuse box, the switch marked ‘Summer’ was most definitely turned to ‘Off’.

I expect (as seems to be the norm these days) that most people would have been checking their smart phones or tablets every five minutes, shopping around for the best weather forecast in order to decide whether to wear sandals or galoshes.

So it wouldn’t surprise me if only a few of you realise how that very same weekend was a busy junction of ‘historic events’ (I use the term loosely because some of them, as you will soon learn, are peculiar to my own experience and really just facilitate the writing of this blog).

This is what I had on my mind:

  • Sir Roger Bannister helped to celebrate the 60th anniversary since he ran the first sub-four-minute mile, by appearing at the Westminster Mile.
  • At the same event, David Weir broke his own world record by completing the 1 mile wheelchair race in 3 minutes and 7 seconds.
  • I also took part in the Westminster Mile and the London 10,000 Metres (the next day), obtaining personal best times in both races (00:06:17 and 00:52:57 respectively). (See?! I warned you!)

Whether or not you are pleased with your results, it is always important to reflect on the reasons for your performance. Personally, I can’t fathom how I managed to shave 45 seconds off my previous best mile and over 6 minutes on the 10k. I wonder if (training aside) it had anything to do with some ediscovery issues that got me….well….a little worked up on both days.

The first was the matter of a short-sighted comment that I heard during my travels through Europe in the week leading up to the Westminster Mile.

I was told by a lawyer that they would never use predictive coding technology to review documents because the DOJ doesn’t accept it. Shortly before 4am on the morning of the race, I woke in my hotel room with these words ringing in my ears. Whether the DOJ accepts it or not, I just couldn’t believe that someone would write off technology that could save time, labour and cost, without considering how they could use it to gain advantage (after all, there are many situations where it is sorely needed and it’s use does not need approval from the DOJ or any other opponent). Anyway, a quick tweet seemed to be the remedy for this bout of insomnia and feeling much better, I managed to get some more sleep ahead of the race.

At breakfast I could see from the window (instead of the BBC Weather app) that it was raining heavily and I was thankful that this would dampen the pollen sufficiently to ensure that I could run reasonably fast and still have good lung power for the longer race the next day. I was mostly keen to ensure that I didn’t exhaust myself to rule out getting a decent time in the long race.

Despite my concern, I found that the going was definitely good. I started well; I got ahead of the rest of my fellow runners and went for it. I even slowed a little to make sure that I maintained a good pace and convinced myself that I would not beat last years’ time of 7 minutes and 2 seconds. So much so that I was very surprised to hear the commentator’s voice announcing through the loud-speaker at the 200 metres marker that anyone finishing now would be just outside of 5½ minutes. After the surprise, I realised there lurked another analogy to ediscovery technology and how it surpasses expectations when proper control is exercised.

But why so fast? Was I still fired up by one person’s ignorance? Was it my breakfast (an unhealthy and calorific Full English)? Or did it have something to do with the inclusion of the Spencer Davis Group’s classic hit “Keep On Running”, the lyrics to which I had already changed in my head:

Keep on running, keep on hiding / One fine day I‘m gonna be the one / To make you understand / Oh, yeah, [I’m gonna be your] Predictive Coding man

Did my time, took my chances

The danger of Twitter is that it is very difficult to compose something intelligent and all too easy to compose something controversial in just 140 characters. I discovered this after the first race when I found that someone had vehemently disagreed with my earlier tweet.

But, where there’s danger, there’s excitement. Having clarified what I meant, I found that the excitement comes in being able to engage with like-minded people around the world, who share the same passion for improving legal practice through the use of technology. In the words of Survivor (which kept me going between the 7th and 8th kilometres on the day of the long race) “risin’ up to the challenge of [my] rival” had made me feel much better.

At the end of both races I decided that integrity, honesty and skill is what wins races (more than mild aggravation, bacon and music), which brings me to another topic that has been on my mind.

The Governor of the Bank of England recently commented that “integrity, honesty and skill” in senior managers are not optional. He was targeting the financial services industry, but I think that this is a further sign of a high-standards culture of compliance in Europe that will eventually prevail in all industries and sectors.

The key thing to take away from Mr. Carney’s warning is that if your business is going to come under scrutiny, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the probe. And if there a probe is on the horizon, you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve to investigate yourselves. As a company you should know what your liability is early and deal with it. Which brings me back to technology, and my final plug for it –if you are worried about what the DOJ (or the FCA for that matter) have to say, then use the best technology out there to root out the problem before they knock on your door.

About Rob Jones

Robert Jones is the manager of Kroll Ontrack’s team of Legal Consultants in Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

I PREDICT A RIOT

As we approach the end of 2013 it is only natural to look to the future and wonder what 2014 will bring.  Kroll Ontrack gathered together a panel of industry experts, supplied copious bubbly drinks (to help with the creative juices) and cajoled them into giving up their predictions for next year.  My personal favourite:

Kroll Ontrack will achieve ediscovery world domination!

On a less aggressive note, the predictions identify a number of themes that were also hot topics in 2013.  “Data Protection will be top of the agenda” from one law firm partner.  Hidden behind all the cross-border matters, data protection has always been a lingering issue for any lawyer. However, since the surreptitious release of NSA files, the day to day café discussion has been emotional and heated. This has led politicians, companies and law firms in EMEA, and other parts of the world, to review practices and procedures in relation to information provided to other countries, and especially to the US. An extensive overhaul of the EU’s data protection regulation is due in 2014 with fines of up to €100m and mandatory data protection officers.  This far-reaching data protection regulation is due to replace Europe’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, following a vote by the European Union.   This new regulation is likely to result in complex technological, process and governance challenges for organisations across Europe.

“A major law firm will suffer a cyber attack”.  This is not so much a new prediction for 2014, as a continuation of a theme from 2013.  A major city law firm successfully fought a ‘drive by’ or ‘watering hole’ attack in October 2013, but it has highlighted the vulnerabilities in the legal profession.  If you attack a corporation, you get one company’s information.  If you attack a law firm, you potentially get hundreds.  As corporations strive to keep their IT infrastructure airtight, one must ask whether their legal advisors are doing the same when handling sensitive and privileged data.

“Discovery of Twitter (private messages) and Facebook accounts”.  I think we can lump these in under the general heading of  “social media”.  Without the express co-operation of the account holder, what options are there for discovery?  Using talented forensic consultants there is a possibility of finding fragments of data previously accessed on a hard drive but unless you have the user name and password the only option to obtain a full data set is a court order to the service provider.

“The first request from a lawyer will be ‘can I use predictive coding on this matter’?”  Whilst predictive coding is on the rise, our first question would be how much data, how long do you have to review?  If the matter fits we will happily unleash our expertise on said lawyer, providing consultancy and guidance. Predictive coding is finally entering the mainstream, and as we see it being used more and more often as lawyers become familiar with the technology, I can see lawyers asking for its use, rather than it being suggested to them.

Finally, is there potential for a shift in the way ediscovery is approached? Perhaps ediscovery will start being considered as part of the integral process of litigation, competition cases and internal investigations and “In 2014 the worlds of law, technology and business will finally converge as they should!”

In conclusion, the most important predictions of the year ahead:

  •  “Warrington Wolves to win the rugby league super league”
  • “Royal Wedding – Harry and a posh blond”
  • And most importantly “We discover Sherlock can fly”

Limber up for the Big Data Marathon

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The Data Craze for Sports Fanatics and Lawyers

One of my colleagues has just run the Reading Half Marathon and I am expecting any minute to see his race stats published on Facebook.   Well done Rob Jones, a GPS time of 2:21:19.  Budding athletes and intrepid cyclists are downloading various  apps to their phones (like Endomondo Sports Tracker or apps.strava.com), relying on the information they gather to track distance travelled, time taken and  energy expended and using this to not only subtly show-off on social networking sites but also to plot and plan their race strategies. Of course, a positive spin-off is that the rest of us, having shared their pain and gain, feel inspired to do something similar and before you know it the data craze has turned into a sports craze and a new way of doing things. This phenomenon highlights how data can be transformed into intelligence, can inform decision making and strategy and possibly even have an unintended impact.  It got me thinking again about the influence that big data and predictive analytics is having on business and on the legal profession and how edisclosure fits into the picture.

Big data in business

Initially it was only big companies like telecommunications companies, banks and government agencies that could afford to store and analyse big data.  Thanks to advancements in hardware and databases you no longer need supercomputers to carry out complex analytics across large data sets.  Many businesses are finding that for a reasonable investment they can collect data and make it relevant to their business; by measuring consumer behaviour and using pattern detection they can respond to customer needs and market conditions and make data-driven decisions.   Supermarkets, healthcare providers, gaming companies, insurance companies and even florists are jumping on the bandwagon and tapping into the intelligence running through the big data stream and finding ways to monetise the data they hold.

But (and it’s a big but) what about law firms? 

Can lawyers, who have tended to shy away from technological innovation really harness big data to predict case outcomes and legal costs?   We know that big data can be exploited to predict the outbreak of diseases, but can it be used to predict the outcome of a litigation case?  In an interesting article by Mike Wheatley on Silicone Angle it appears that databases of legal history are being built up and algorithms are being developed to help predict case outcomes.  Apparently, companies are also developing mobile apps that predict the average legal cost of different types of cases in the US.

As we enter a new era of cost management in the UK and the need to stick to case budgets becomes more important, we will need all the help we can get to estimate costs and guess what impact variables like the number of witnesses or extent of disclosure might have, not only on costs, but also on the outcome of a case.  Of course the data that needs to be collected, analysed and correlated to make sensible predictions includes not just the key features and facts of the case itself but also the results recorded in subsequent court decisions.   When it comes to costs, law firms and e-disclosure providers are all holding a lot of valuable billing data that could be analysed to assist with cost estimating.   This might all be feasible but has not yet been done.

On the edisclosure front, data analytics has been used for some time.  We have had email analytic tools that can be used to visualize who has been communicating with whom, when and about what.  Similarly, Technology Assisted Review (TAR) (also known as Computer Assisted Review or Predictive Coding)  analyses decisions made by humans on a sub-set of documents, and then look for similar patterns in a much larger document universe to predict which documents are relevant to a case and top priority.    At this stage most of us know about TAR and some are testing the water. Here are some tips on analytics from the sports scene:

Sports analytics and the CIO: Five lessons from the sports data craze

Collect the right data to start with, both qualitatively and quantitatively.  In edisclosure this means targeting the right sources of data and is an area where experts can help.  Is it better to present a raw unfiltered set of data (to teach the system in a balanced way) or a set of results based on a carefully crafted search, or is that somewhat prejudicial. Until there are better statistics and more guidelines from real cases, the ultimate decision is likely to be a strategic one.

Start with statistically significant data.  This refers to the selection of your seed set of documents that will be reviewed by humans and used to train the prediction software.   You cannot expect the software to achieve peak performance on 1,000 documents.

Remember that the ability to contextualise data is important.  There are incalculable factors that come into play with prediction and this is where human quality control is vital.

Perhaps, as we use these predictive tools more in legal cases and share our practical experiences and results, their use will become widespread and a status symbol just like Nike + is.

About Tracey Stretton

Tracey Stretton is a legal Consultant at Kroll Ontrack in the UK. Her role is to advise lawyers and their clients on the use of technology in legal practice. Her experience in legal technologies has evolved from exposure to its use as a lawyer and consultant on a large number of cases in a variety of international jurisdictions.

Social Media: Not a Problem?

Social Media

We think we understand social media, it’s simple, right? It’s the medium whereby we create, share and exchange information and ideas in virtual social groups. However, like many organisations, I’ve never fully understood its place in the complex areas of our lives. We constantly hear that the work/life or the public/private boundaries are blurred in today’s society and there’s no denying that social media has had its part to play. To bring this back into context, I wanted to explore the increasing importance of managing social media as evidence.

Evidence is typically found within lines of communication, so it is inevitable that we will begin to see more lawsuits and criminal proceedings focused on social networking. However, whether you’re looking to request or disclose social media content to judge its relevance in litigation, or analyse it as part of an investigation, there are potential roadblocks that are likely to get in the way.

More often than not disclosure orders include electronically stored information (ESI) within the remit of what is to be produced. Typically this includes email, office based documents, data stored on mobile devices and now we begin to see requests for data stored in the cloud and content generated via social media. So, other than the obvious challenge of having to locate the data, imagine the time and internal cost of collecting and reviewing all of your employees’ computers and mobile devices. Now imagine expanding that to your company’s social media websites and then to each individual employee!

This is not to say that social media content is difficult to access. For example, the High Court has ordered Facebook on a number of occasions to disclose details of its users to identify them to assist in defamation claims. But is social networking content deemed valuable? Most give little thought to the consequences of their posts or blogs, but this is to the wrongdoer’s detriment, as social media is not exempt from disclosure in civil or criminal proceedings and, like any evidence, can be the smoking gun needed to prosecute.

So, we can’t escape it, social media is here to stay, in work and our private lives but what advice can we give when having to handle it? Most importantly, get control. Set out clear polices and regulate where your data is; inform your employees that social media is part of YOUR data control. Make it clear from day one that social media is discloseable and constantly remind your employees that policies are in place to protect your data, and what they post on Facebook or Twitter might come back to haunt them.

About Graham Jackson

As a Legal Consultant at Kroll Ontrack, I promote our computer forensic and ediscovery services to both corporate companies and law firms. This is to support any form of their electronic evidence needs, whether that is advising our clients to help prepare in advance of an electronic incident occurring, a real time incident such as data theft, or advise on the best course of action in dealing with post incident response to better protect against future occurrence.