ACEDS Conference Inspires, Educates

Group of Business People Meeting Back Lit

Think about how much the world has changed in 13 years. Social media emerged and now dominates our lives and how we communicate. Mobile phones now have broadcast-worthy video cameras, and there are millions of apps to play games, message friends and record our every location. From our Fitbits to our phones to our tablets, our movements and messages are being tracked – and all of that may be admissible in court.

The question, of course, is how to obtain this information. I am so pleased to have as my colleagues’ individuals who have studied this question and its development for decades. Attending the inaugural ACEDS Midwest Symposium in Detroit helped me take an up close and personal look at how technology is being used to obtain the untold amount of personal data out there, and has ignited my passion for, and interest in, this subject.

The field is shifting and changing and emerging at light speed, which is what makes it so important to have colleagues with whom to share information and highlight the near-daily developments. The law has always lagged behind technological progress, but there is no doubt courts have jumped on the e-discovery bandwagon and it is off to the races.  Trailblazing opinions are being issued in all jurisdictions; as soon as you think you have gotten a handle on things, here comes a strong right turn!  Here in Kentucky, as in all states, it is becoming crucial that attorneys understand available technology or have someone like me (or you) on hand as that resource.

My most pressing goal is to set up my firm, English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, in Bowling Green Kentucky, (ELPO) for success, and put our firm at the forefront within the State and regionally in this arena. I strive to be a resource for all ELPO attorneys, and I am so grateful the Firm provided me the opportunity to attend the ACEDS inaugural Midwest Conference.

The conference highlight for me was hearing George Socha announce a change to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, which he helped develop. The actual change will be announced to the public soon, but it was exciting to hear from one of the foremost leaders in the field about the literal cutting edge of e-discovery. It was also very interesting to hear from the panel of special masters including Mary Beth Kelly, Retired Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.  These individuals are actually handling many e-discovery matters on behalf of federal judges and issuing opinions which are relied upon by judges and attorneys alike.

The strongest debate at the event was over the disclosure of e-discovery methods as part of one’s response to a discovery request or as part of a judicial inquiry into same.  Judges, attorneys and corporate counsel have sparred over whether or not an attorney or client’s process (including search terms, software, hardware, etc.) that generated a responsive document should be disclosed. Is the process work product, and therefore protected from discovery, or is it a crucial information in determining the good faith effort of the opposing side in responding to requests? From the heated discussion at the conference, it appears that while this is currently a gray area, the internal discovery response process may not be protected from disclosure under the work product privilege much longer.

The ACEDS Inaugural Midwest Symposium was eye-opening, exciting, and a wonderful opportunity to network with the very diverse individuals making names for themselves and their companies in this field.  I hope to attend another ACEDS conference very soon.

Nikki McKenzie
Certified Kentucky Paralegal at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP
Nikki is an accomplished and experienced paralegal who has worked at ELPO since 2015. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University in 2003, then attended law school at the University of Cincinnati College of Law for 18 months before deciding a paralegal career would best fit her family lifestyle. She has worked as a legal secretary and paralegal since high school. She has worked in several states including Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, and has extensive experience in a number of practice areas including domestic, probate, real estate, professional negligence, personal injury, commercial litigation, and mass torts. She lives in Alvaton, Kentucky.