by Chris Loy
Just as lawyers began to appreciate the boundaries and possibilities of technology in the legal realm, “the game board has been tipped over,” opened moderator Craig Ball, Board Certified trial lawyer, certified computer forensic examiner, law professor, and electronic evidence expert.
The 5th Annual University of Florida E-Discovery Conference entitled “New Rules + New Tools = New Solutions” was held on March 30, 2017, and focused on attorney competence in utilizing the expanding slew of digital data at society’s fingertips available through services like Gmail, Slack, and Whatsapp. “Change is hard[,]” and electronic data is growing at an enormous rate. For instance, the average smart phone user spends 3 hours and 47 minutes a day using a smart phone—”think about the [amount] of data,” Ball remarked. He cautioned the audience of lawyers, students, and scholars that it is not just the data, it is the evidence, “evidence that we must preserve.”
“It was great to hear the panelists discuss their preferred methods of tackling [data preservation],” Travis Foels, 2L commented after attending the first panel on data preservation in today’s ever-changing discovery arena. “A lot of careful consideration [on the] information sources to target and conferment with clients should precede any actual preservation action,” Foels remarked.
“I don’t think law schools are doing enough,” panelist Corey Douglas contended after being questioned on whether law schools were preparing graduates to operate effectively within the current environment of e-discovery. Douglas’s view is unique because not only is he Vice President at Elijah Ltd., a legal technology firm specializing in computer forensic and eDiscovery solutions for law firms and corporations, he is a current 3L at Barry University’s Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, FL.
“What you guys have here at UF and what Bill Hamilton has been able to do is . . . cutting edge,” Douglas asserted. “Most law schools are doing the traditional curriculum, [but] one thing we’ve talked about is how law schools can replicate what Bill has done [at UF Law] and make it part of the core curriculum because the faster the people learn the skills, the better off the entire legal community will be.”
The Conference consisted of seven panels that featured a range of e-discovery and trial experts, attorneys, and state and federal trial judges. The topics ranged from data preservation from the cloud and mobile devices to the use of technology-assisted review in today’s litigation environment.
Attorneys from around the State of Florida not only attended the Conference in person, but fittingly via a live video stream available through a password protected portal. The Conference was hosted by University of Florida Levin College of Law, Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, and the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (“ACEDS”).