What goes on in Sedona … stays in Sedona. I’m not sure if Vegas copied the slogan from The Sedona Conference®, or visa versa, but when you attend a Sedona Conference event, it is one of the first things you learn. It is an iron clad rule, one which I have never broken. (Who wants to risk that kind of bad karma?) Because of this rule, even though I attended the Mid-Year meeting of Sedona this week (held in Denver, not Sedona), there is very little I can say about it. The Sedona rule keeps me quiet.
What I Can Say About The Sedona Conference
Under the Sedona rule, I can say that I had a great time, met with many of the top people in the field, and learned new things of interest. Also, on a personal note, I can say I saw several old friends and make some new ones, all good folks who share a common passion for e-discovery. But that is about all I can say.
I’ve been going to Sedona events since 2006, usually to both the mid-year and annual meetings. The quality of the events is head and shoulders above all others. In fact, it is the only event I will go to, even if I don’t happen to be a designated speaker. My time is limited. Life is short. So I choose to follow the path to Sedona.
You can learn a lot in Sedona when you turn off your inner chatter, and your external gizmos (iPhone, i Pads, etc), and just listen for a while. Truth be known, not everyone does that of course, me included (especially this week), but when you do, you get more out of it. A Sedona Conference is the best place around to try to understand many differing points of view, to experiment in a new kind of education program, one based on mutual respect and dialogue, not one-up-manship and argument. Dialogue is the key word here. Here is the official description of the mission of The Sedona Conference® (“TSC”):
The mission of TSC is to drive the reasoned and just advancement of law and policy by stimulating ongoing dialogue amongst leaders of the bench and bar to achieve consensus on critical issues. TSC brings together the brightest minds in a dialogue-based, think-tank setting with the goal of creating practical solutions and recommendations of immediate benefit to the bench and bar.
The Sedona website goes on to explain that its “conferences are dialogue-based mini-sabbaticals for the nation’s leading jurists, lawyers, and experts that allow them to examine leading edge issues of law and policy.”
Sedona Membership is Open to All
Curious about what really goes on at the secretive Sedona Conference? You should be. Its dialogue-based mini-sabbaticals are unlike any other event. You won’t find out from me, but still, not to worry, The Sedona Conference® is open to membership by anyone. It is not too expensive either. Just go to their newly refurbished website – www.thesedonaconference.org – and sign-up at the new member page. It costs $395 for an annual membership and you can pay online.
Attendance of the meetings like the Mid-Year I just attended is, of course, an additional charge. Also, attendance at these events is limited. That is no bull. Sedona Conference events always have more people sign up to attend than they will allow in. Sedona caps the size of these events in order to maintain quality. Sure, they could make much more money if they wanted to, just by making the conferences bigger. But, unlike many events, this is not about money. The Sedona Conference is a bona fide 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation. It is all about education and advancing the law in a reasonable and just manner. It is not a business, and the founder of The Sedona Conference®, Richard G. Braman, is all about ideas, not money.
Richard is a cool dude who looks like more like a pirate than a lawyer. He’s into jazz, not possessions. No doubt that’s one reason he retired as a successful antitrust lawyer and moved to far out Sedona. Sedona – you know, the New Age paradise of energy vortexes, crystals, and spiritual visionaries. Sedona is an appropriate place for Braman. He is a lawyer visionary.
Richard Braman is the real thing. Although he is not a touchy-feely kind of guy, it is obvious he is motivated by love of profession, not money. He is deep into reason too, Man, don’t get me wrong. But he is balanced, just like the scales of Justice. So too, The Sedona Conference is open to all, defendants and plaintiffs alike, inside counsel, outside counsel, private lawyers, government lawyers, retired lawyers, practicing lawyers, judges, professors, scientists, paralegals, techs, super-geeks, and vendors of all sorts.
That is why I am proud to be a part of Richard’s mission, even if he does look like a pirate! His ship is pure. His mission is true. It is for all people who care about the pursuit of justice. The Working Group One part of the Sedona Conference is for those of us who really care about electronic discovery. (Sedona has other working groups too, ones that are focused on other areas of law: Antitrust, Complex Litigation, Intellectual Property Rights and International.)
The Many Sedona Publications on Electronic Discovery
The Sedona Conference® Working Group 1 on Electronic Document Retention and Production is called a working group for a reason. The group does not just meet and dialogue, it works. It creates outstanding writings to advance the law of e-discovery. The list of publications of Working Group 1 since 2003 is impressive. Moreover, true to their non-profit status, all of these publications can be obtained without charge from the Sedona website. Here is the official list, and I can tell you, there are several more in progress, I just can’t tell you what they are.
- The Sedona Conference® Cooperation Proclamation: Resources for the Judiciary, August 2011
- The Sedona Conference® Database Principles Addressing the Preservation and Production of Databases and Database Information in Civil Litigation, April 2011
- The Sedona Conference® “Jumpstart Outline”, March 2011
- The Sedona Conference® Cooperation Guidance for Litigators & In-House Counsel, March 2011
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Proportionality, October 2010
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Legal Holds- September, 2010 Version, September 2010
- The Sedona Conference® Glossary: E-Discovery & Digital Information Management (Third Edition), September 2010
- An Open Invitation to Participate in the TREC Legal Track 2010, June 2010
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Inactive Information Sources, July 2009
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Achieving Quality in the E-Discovery Process, May 2009
- An Open Invitation to Participate in the TREC Legal Track 2009, April 2009
- Ken Withers, E-Discovery and Combative Legal Culture: Finding A Way Out of Purgatory (pre-publication draft of an article forthcoming in the November/December 2008 issue of The San Diego Lawyer Magazine), October 2008
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Preservation, Management and Identification of Sources of Information that are Not Reasonably Accessible, August 2008
- The Sedona Conference® “Jumpstart Outline”, May 2008
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Non-Party Production & Rule 45 Subpoenas, April 2008
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on ESI Evidence & Admissibility, March 2008
- The Sedona Conference® Glossary: E-Discovery & Digital Information Management (Second Edition), December 2007
- The Sedona Guidelines: Best Practice Guidelines & Commentary for Managing Information & Records in the Electronic Age, November 2007
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Email Management, August 2007
- The Sedona Conference® Best Practices Commentary on Search & Retrieval Methods, August 2007
- The Sedona Conference® Commentary on Legal Holds, August 2007 Public Comment Version, August 2007
- The Sedona Principles after the Federal Amendments, August 2007
- Navigating the Vendor Proposal Process: Best Practices for the Selection of Electronic Discovery Vendors(Second Edition), June 2007
- The Sedona Principles Addressing Electronic Document Production, Second Edition, June 2007
- The Sedona Guidelines for Managing Information and Records in the Electronic Age, September 2005
- Overview of Changes in the 2005 Version of The Sedona Guidelines on the Management of Electronic Information, September 2005
- The Sedona Principles Addressing Electronic Document Production, July 2005
- Navigating the Vendor Proposal Process: Best Practices for the Selection of Electronic Discovery Vendors, July 2005
- The Sedona Conference® Glossary 2005 Version, May 2005
- Overview of Changes to The Sedona Principles in 2004, January 2005
- The Sedona Guidelines: Best Practice Guidelines & Commentary for Managing Information & Records in the Electronic Age (public comment version), September 2004
- Interview Of Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, March 2004
- THE SEDONA PRINCIPLES: Best Practices Recommendations & Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production, January 2004
- Public Comment Draft – The Sedona Principals: Best Practices Recommendations & Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production, March 2003
- Observations on “The Sedona Principles” 03/2003 Public Comment Draft, March 2003
People like Richard Braman, and organizations like The Sedona Conference, are very rare in this over-commercialized, hyped up culture of ours. When you find a legal visionary with class, you should look deeply at his gifts, you should follow. Not him as a person. I’m not into that New Age guru stuff, and neither is Richard. You should follow his ideas. You should join his class and learn all you can. You should learn to dialogue. The Sedona Conference® is the only e-discovery organization I have joined. It is the only e-discovery group and education program I endorse. (Well, except mine of course: e-DiscoveryTeamTraining® (yeah, I copied the trademark idea from him too)).
So, join up. Go to Sedona. You won’t find energy vortexes and doorways to other dimensions. You won’t find Gurus and Yodas (well, ok, maybe a couple of Yodas find you will). If you go to a Sedona event, wherever it is held, you will encounter a different and better approach to legal education. I look forward to meeting you there, maybe this Fall at the next big event, the Annual meeting. If so, we can toast a sunset and swap a few stories. All of which will be kept secret of course – a deep secret, but one filled with light, not darkness. For that is the Sedona way.