Educational seminars are vital for the legal profession to keep attorneys and paralegals knowledgeable regarding changes impacting the practice of law. One area that continues to affect the legal landscape is the use of technology. Most information generated today is created by the use of some form of technology and this has led to the need for attorney and paralegals to develop and understanding of technology in order to fulfill their professional competence duties. To further the education of paralegals, attorneys and litigation support professionals, the New York City Paralegal Association recently conducted an “eDiscovery Boot Camp” event, titled “Practice Support for Litigation Professionals” held on August 23rd, at the law office of Mayer Brown.
The NYPA’s event was sponsored by several litigation support services providers, and various AM Law firms, and consisted of an entire day of panel events. The Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS) also sponsored the event, and helped provide panelists for some of the sessions.
The event, attended by over 150 guests, was well received based on the feedback provided from the audience. The audience participated frequently throughout the event, with each panel responding to questions and comments. Subsequent to the event, many attendees also expressed thanks and positive statements about the event via email.
In summing up, the content provided during the day was jam-packed with useful resource information. Dr. Chase Cunningham discussed available cybersecurity certifications, prompting much interest from the audience. Some of the panelists involved in the event were kind enough to share quotes with me expressing key thoughts that they feel are essentially important “take-aways”. The following are some of the useful points that the panelists wished to share about the content provided at the event:
Kara Buzga, one of the chief organizers of the event, stated, “In the dead of the summer, with everyone on vacation, it was amazing to find representatives from over 30 law firms and corporations, to spend a day talking about Project Management. With over 151 attendees, representing every profession within the legal community, attendees were engaged, and enlightened by the panels and phenomenal speakers. Panels were filled with intelligent, entertaining industry leaders who provided real, honest answers to questions. I think this event set a NYC record, not only in attendance, but also in identifying so many individuals who understand, we all have to work together.”
Patrick Garbe provided this advice, “As the project manager do not run and hide from mistakes. Take ownership if it is yours. Provide support to team members who may be struggling with the problem. Play a leadership role in figuring out a solution. Gather the facts. Analyze the issues. Be prepared to propose a solution to the stakeholders in a timely fashion.” Patrick was involved in more than one panel session, and he provided the following statement regarding his 2nd panel, “When you work on the types of cases that typically settle you learn just how rare it is to actually go to trial. Playing a role on the trial team as a paralegal or project manager is one of the most exciting opportunities in our careers. You’ll want to make the most of it. It’s often dramatic. It’s always a lot of hard work. But, it’s incredibly rewarding in many ways.”
Steven Rushefsky stated, “The trial team does a lot of heavy lifting to gather volumes of important data. How can we enhance presentations so that judges, juries and arbiters take away key messages? Often, a graphic with less (but more relevant) information can be stronger than a graphic with more.”
Catherine D’Aversa offered her insight, “In this highly competitive legal industry, technology, document automation and project management are three efficiencies that law firm clients are demanding to compliment the attorney’s expertise in delivery legal services. In addition, law firms must utilize technology, document automation and project management in order to remain competitive and profitable in today’s legal industry. There is only a small window of time, perhaps 2-3 years for law firms to move to this model of delivery of legal services before it may be too late in the game. More and more law firms are marketing themselves with the expertise in these areas to attract and retain clients.”
Brad Schaffel, my co-chair of the educational committee for the New York Metro Area Chapter of ACEDS, provided the following informative thought, “Analytics are what drives eDiscovery and Information Governance. What is most telling is how differently they are used and the divergent definitions you hear from practitioners in our space. Technologists, such as Sandy Serkes, law firm partners like Alan Winchester, Esq., Lit Support professionals such as myself, and eDiscovery/consulting attorneys, like Dawn Johnson, all rely heavily on analytics and all use them in drastically different ways. Understanding each ‘analytic touch-point’, and knowing whom to involve at each stage of the IGRM and EDRM, is paramount to success.”
The CEO of Valora Technologies, Sandy Serkes, offered important advice, “There is no excuse not to get on-board with automated solutions for classifying documents and data. To ignore this vital technology is to walk questionably along the line of ethical and expensive behavior.”
The feedback from the audience following the event was very positive, and the need for education on these topics is apparent. One audience member, Indira Sui, of Rivkin Radler, provided the following email comment following the event, which was typical of the feedback provided by others, “I’d like thank you for hosting such a wonderful event yesterday. The panelists and presentations were exceptional and very informative. I learned a great deal and plan to extend the information to my team-members. I look forward to hopefully meeting you in the future.” With the obvious value that events such as this one bring to the legal community, we hope that future eDiscovery Boot Camps will be arranged for paralegals, and litigation support professionals throughout the country. Personally, I was pleased to have been involved in this event. Having served as a panelist and a moderator in similar events in the past, I always feel that there is value in taking part in educational seminars.
Not only do I enjoy an opportunity to share my thoughts with others, I truly feel that there is always new knowledge to be gained by listening to expert opinions of others. There will always be new challenges on the horizon, caused by the development of new technologies. The need for continuing education will remain vitally important, and hopefully events like the one organized here by the New York City Paralegal Association will be readily available to the litigation support community well into the future.