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Takeaways from Last Week’s Legalweek Conference

Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today

Last week was Legalweek and, for many people, it was their first in-person conference in over two years (since Legalweek 2020, if not longer). Let’s see how it turned out in terms of attendance, attitude, and session educational content with discussion of two terrific IPRO sessions.

Attendance and Attitude

There was reason to be optimistic about the attendance going in with the fewest current COVID cases since the pandemic began two years ago. Representatives of ALM stated that the final official attendance was a little less than 5,000 total attendees. That’s lighter than most years and the Grand Ballroom was about two-thirds full in the keynote interview with Dan Abrams on the first full day.

But the attitude was terrific at the conference and people were enthusiastic about being at their first in-person conference in months, if not years! I met people that I referred to as “Zoom faces” – people that I had only ever met via Zoom or Teams – in-person for the first time, even though I had worked with some of them for nearly two years! Based on feedback from people I spoke with, meeting schedules were full and while traffic in the exhibit hall and in the sessions was down from previous years, there were still plenty of attendees in both places throughout the week.

Educational Content

I attended several sessions, including two of the three sessions hosted by IPRO in the Information Governance track on Wednesday. Here are some highlights from those sessions:

Practical Information Governance: Balancing Risk, Compliance & Innovation:

The speakers for this session were Jeanne Somma, Chief Legal Officer & Global Head of Managed Review at Lineal Services, Lauren Barnes, Director, Information Governance at S&P Global and Dean Brown, CEO at IPRO. The session was a discussion between the three of them regarding some of the challenges they have faced balancing risk compliance and innovation in IG and how they have obtained buy-in for IG policies. Takeaways for this session included:

  • Terminology: Somma relayed one experience where she worked with an energy company client years ago that had signs everywhere to promote a culture of safety – when she began using the term “safety” instead of “risk”, they embraced the concept.
  • Merging Disparate Cultures: Barnes discussed the challenge of merging with a company that doesn’t have as strong a culture of compliance and the importance of promoting being an agent of change within a business group or even within a project.
  • Business and Personal Use of an App: Somma discussed how her Zoom client automatically logged her into her New York Law School Zoom account instead of her work account without her realizing, necessitating the implementation of two-factor authentication to eliminate that possibility.
  • Staying Current With Technology Changes: Brown mentioned the challenges with keeping up with newer lesser known file types (such as Microsoft’s recently created “.fluid” file type, which is part of a real-time collaboration framework for M365) and newer features (such as the 382 new features that Microsoft just rolled out as part of a massive information governance release for M365) when there’s not much more than documentation to make users aware of these new features.

Build, Adapt & Execute Your Information Governance, Privacy, and eDiscovery Strategy:

The speakers for this session were Linn Freedman, Chair of Data Privacy & Security Team at Robinson + Cole and Nick Inglis, Director of Information Governance at IPRO. They discussed some of the challenges associated with Information Governance and how to build a strategy to address those challenges. Takeaways from this session included:

  • Increased Complexity and Risk Leads to Fear: Inglis discussed how, with six “siloes of fear” to address, organizations frequently turn to Legal because they’re unclear on regulations, retention requirements, risk profile, and goals.
  • Everyone Has Information Governance: It’s time to stop asking if you have IG. Instead ask how effective it is. Every information decision made in every silo is part of your Information Governance program—whether you realize it or not.
  • Don’t Work in Vacuums: Privacy problems, eDiscovery problems, and Information Governance is every information professional’s concern.
  • Privacy Impact Assessment: Freedman used a target to illustrate the concept of public, confidential, and restricted information, and the closer you get to the bullseye toward restricted information (which could cause financial, legal, regulatory, or reputation damage if compromised), the more important is it to protect that information.
  • Relevance First: Discovery processes have typically taken an approach to collect, hold, process, host, review, and produce to get to relevant information. Today, they need to start with identifying relevant information upstream, followed by an approach to hold and smart collect – then host, review and produce.

The session also had recommendations for law firm, service provider, and corporate professionals for better Information Governance. Not surprisingly, the first step for each was to learn more about Information Governance!

Conclusion

Last week’s Legalweek was a case of being reunited (and it feels so good) and the ability to network and see colleagues again was wonderful! And the two sessions discussed above are examples of the terrific educational content that Legalweek provided yet again. Perhaps we appreciated both the networking and the terrific educational content more than we ever have!

And for more educational topics from me related to eDiscovery, information governance, cybersecurity and data privacy, feel free to follow my blog, eDiscovery Today!

To learn more about developing Information Governance in your firm or organization, check out this Guide to Information Governance from IPRO