4 Reasons to Learn e-Discovery and Other Smart Aleck Advice

This vlog is a six minute video from the last day of class on e-discovery at the University of Florida. Holland & Knight’s William Hamilton and I serve as adjunct professors at the College of Law to try to pass on what we know about the subject to the next generation. A basic understanding of the subject takes a few hundred hours and, if a student works hard, can be accomplished in one semester. According to Malcolm Gladwell, and I agree, to go on and obtain complete mastery of any complex task like this takes 10,000 hours. See: Inspector Clouseau and the Insights of Judge Facciola and Malcolm Gladwell Suggest a Bright Future for e-Discovery Lawyers. Such a long learning journey requires a motivational start and reasoned perseverance. The legal profession needs more people to take this journey, and soon, if our system of justice is to continue. May this video prod and encourage a few more students and practitioners in that direction.

Click on the 4 arrows in the lower right hand corner to enlarge for best viewing.

2 Responses to 4 Reasons to Learn e-Discovery and Other Smart Aleck Advice

  1. Robert E. Olsen says:

    I have no quarrel with your four basic points. The evidence is almost always in the documents, the documents are increasingly electronic, and there are substantial procedural and ethical reasons to dig it out of them. It’s your 10,000 hours reference that I think is misleading. The top forensic IT lawyer in the world might have spent a long time learning the ins and outs of computer hardware, software, and operating procedures in a hundred different companies, and even a run-of-the-mill complex litigation attorney will need a basic understanding of all of these to take the deposition of the data processing center manager of a large company. However, to perform basic discovery, nothing like 10,000 hours of preparation will be required of the attorneys in that Florida classroom, much less the document review attorneys whose task it will be to slog through 100,000 or one million electronic documents before a discovery deadline comes due. Notwithstanding the efforts of some to professionalize document review or to make its participants subject to certification requirements, it just ain’t rocket science.

    I guess I would be interested in knowing how litigators are getting educated in IT matters to take those depositions — is there a course? a book? — and whether there is any training at all that will help document review attorneys to graduate to more sophisticated assignments.

  2. Ralph Losey says:

    My use of the word “mastery” was misunderstood. I do not mean skills needed to perform basic e-discovery tasks as your comment assumed. I agree that far less than 10,000 hours is needed for that; perhaps even less than 250 hours are needed. By “mastery” here I meant “to attain the highest levels of excellence, to reach the top of a field and become a master or genius of the subject.” This is spelled out very clearly in Malcom Gladwell’s book, OUTLIERS, which I also cite and explain in further detail in an earlier blog. “Outliers” is a good read, which I recommend. I hear he will be a keynoter speaker at NY LegalTech so you might want to read it before then.

    The comment about “ain’t rocket science” to review ESI or take a depo, is also interesting. Paint-by-numbers tasks can be learned in a few hours, but does that make one an artist, a master of visual media?

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