August 19, 2011
Friends of E-Discovery
The Friends of E-Discovery group for electronic discovery is the equivalent of open source code to software development!! The goal is to share ideas and problems among people you are comfortable around, (peers and neighbors), who all are interested in learning more about electronic discovery. I first became aware of this approach before an ESIBytes podcast I was hosting with Judge Grimm and Tom Allman on Rule 502. Before Judge Grimm logged onto the show, Tom and I had a few minutes to speak. Tom told me about a group he and Pete Pepiton were running in Cincinnati where a local group of electronic discovery lawyers, judges and technologists were meeting and talking about issues they were encountering. Tom couldn’t stop talking about how effective this group had been in helping this local community become acquainted with electronic discovery by mixing a handful of national experts with others who wanted or needed to learn more about the field. He invited me to an event and I found his description to be accurate. In addition, the discussions I witnessed covered very sophisticated topics.
Soon after that I started the Pittsburgh chapter of this group. Over the past several years, we have had 8 breakfast meetings attended by over 140 different judges, lawyers, technologists and law clerks. Our meetings average between 20 – 30 attendees with 12 and 40 being the range of attendees. I have also attended as a guest meetings in Columbus, Ohio’s version of the group and witnessed the same cooperation and shared insights from different participants who have different issues in the e-discovery EDRM schematic. These meetings are free and extremely educational. They also help to unite local communities around this challenging topic which are still trying to figure out best practices around.
Over the past year, I have had several inquiries from interested lawyers in other cities who have heard some of the ESIBytes podcasts I have done about Friends of E-Discovery. They want to know how to start a similar chapter in other cities. To assist in e-discovery education, I wanted to open up the playbook and teach others what seems to work in Pittsburgh. I also wanted to provided some motivation to others to start similar chapters and network together on what works and maybe what doesn’t. If you are interested, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will offer whatever guidance we can to help you get started. While solving e-discovery is an elusive challenge, starting a Friends of E-Discovery group is really not that difficult if you follow some of the tips laid out on the frequently asked questions page.
- Karl A. Schieneman