>> Preservation: William Hubbard, a law professor at the University of Chicago, has released a report on a survey addressing e-discovery preservation costs, and included the information in his package of comments regarding the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The survey was commissioned in 2011 by the Civil Justice Reform Group, said Mark Behrens, of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, who alerted Law Technology News to the report. (CJRG is a corporate and defense counsel group.)
Hubbard’s team collected data from 128 companies, “of all sizes and from a broad range of industries,” he notes in the report. The survey “generated conservative estimates of costs that are solely attributable to preservation obligations,” explained Hubbard, who reports that among the largest companies, estimated costs were more than $40 million per company, per year. The survey also found that 5 percent of litigation matters account for more than half of all litigation hold notices issued and that both large and small companies face similar preservation burdens. You can read his materials here.
>> Evangelist: Robert Owen, partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (and president of the Electronic Discovery Institute), was among those filing comments. Over the last year or so, Owen has been crusading on behalf of the defense bar, and encouraging the community to get its two cents into the debates. “There is an urgent need for rule-based preservation reform because the current law poses many problems for clients, practitioners, and courts,” he told the committee. “I argue for adoption of a clear, tightly written, national rule on preservation that will decisively displace the negligence culpability standard of Residential Funding because the explosive growth and dispersion of data has rendered negligence an unfair measure of culpability,” he wrote. “Rule 37(e) should unambiguously predicate the issuance of a sanctions order on a showing of intentional, bad-faith destruction of discoverable material, and I join many others in arguing that ‘willful’ is a dangerously unclear term, that the (B)(ii) exception should apply only to tangible things, and that the (e)(2) list of factors should be omitted from the rule.”
Want more reading? Norton Rose Fulbright’s David Kessler and Alex Altman explain how the defense bar has been “relatively quiet” about the pending amendments.
>> On the Marquee: Steven Bennett joins the masthead at Park & Jensen on March 1—the new firm name will be Park Jensen Bennett, and the New York shop focuses on white-collar defense, securities litigation and complex commerical litigation. Bennett has been a partner at Jones Day, in its New York office. The founding partners served together as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the firm’s website notes. Bennett will be the ninth attorney at the firm. He received his J.D. at New York University, and has been a contributor to Law Technology News.
>> Rapid Growth: A new survey from LexisNexis predicts that “the cloud is posed for rapid growth among independent attorneys” this year. The LN survey found that almost 40 percent of lawyers in small firms said they are already using the cloud; half said they would more likely use the cloud; and 72 percent said their firm is more likely to go to the cloud in 2014. LN polled 279 lawyers in firms of up to 20 attorneys. But the news isn’t all shiny: there’s still security concerns (only 41 percent believe confidential data stored in the cloud is safe; and 59 percent are skeptical about security from hackers and data leaks).
>> Disappointing numbers: Decidedly distressing news from The National Association of Women Lawyers about its eighth annual survey on retention and promotion of women in law firms. “On the surface, the findings will sound awfully familiar to anyone who’s been tracking the progress of women in recent years,” observed our colleague, Vivia Chen, in her blog, The Careerist, on The American Lawyer’s website. Among this year’s results: Men still dominate later equity partners; women make up 47 percent of associates, 38 percent of counsel, and 64 percent of staff attorneys, she notes. Women aren’t making equity partners because they are not as successful as males at developing new business for their firms and have a higher attrition rate, the survey reports. And within the Am Law 100, minority women represent only 2 percent of equity partners. Women also aren’t well represented on committees.
Yes, we all know that this is a complex and nuanced dynamic—many women lawyers, myself included, have no interest in Big Law’s golden grail. But it is utterly embarrassing for a profession that fights for justice for all to have such a dismal track record in our own house. We cannot stop working to ameliorate these dismal statistics. Women, across the board in legal, still make 17 percent less money than their male peers.The new survey found that even within Big Law, women partners typically earn 89 percent of what their male peers get paid.
As I’ve shouted before, this must be changed. I continue to challenge every law firm, corporate and vendor top dog to—in the words of Nike—”Just do it.” You have the power to start fixing this embarrassing problem. Start with the money. Now.
Monica Bay is the editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and a member of the California Bar. Twitter: @LTNMonicaBay @lawtechnews.