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Four far-flung e-discovery experts launched a “virtual” law firm Monday, hoping to capitalize on the growing anxiety about e-discovery at legal departments and boardrooms across the country. Redgrave Daley Ragan & Wagner’s partners will pool their expertise in electronic information litigation and management services and target both in-house departments and litigation firms. Charles Ragan, who left Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman to join the venture, said it’s a response to “acute interest” in problems associated with electronic information in business organizations. “We know that businesses will be interested because we’ve heard from several of them,” Ragan said. In-house lawyers are struggling with both the policy issues and expense associated with retaining, and producing, untold terabytes of e-mail and other electronic records sought in discovery. Ragan will continue to work out of San Francisco. His three other partners are across the country, with Jonathan Redgrave in Washington, D.C., James Daley in Kansas City and Lori Wagner in Minneapolis. “Partners will team up on projects, so clients get the benefit of our combined expertise,” he said. “We’ll use technology to bring us together.” The four attorneys met as members of the Sedona Conference, an influential group of lawyers, judges, experts and consultants that met in 2003 to devise guidelines for courts deciding disputes over electronic data. The four were all part of a working group focused on electronic document retention and production. Ragan said the new firm will offer strategic advice to businesses on improving the management of their digital information and records, how best to respond to electronic discovery requests and the risks involved in the integration of different information systems in the aftermath of a merger or acquisition. The firm also will offer information management seminars to law firms, government organizations and corporations as well as special master and expert witness services. Electronic discovery has been receiving a lot of attention. A recent corporate legal counsel survey released by Fulbright & Jaworski pointed to e-discovery as the No. 1 new litigation-related burden for general counsel at companies with annual revenues exceeding $100 million. Redgrave, the e-discovery working group’s chair, is a former partner at Jones Day. Daley, co-chair of the Sedona working group, previously was a partner at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, where he chaired the firm’s technology law and e-discovery group. Minneapolis-based Wagner was a partner at Faegre & Benson. At an industry conference earlier this year, Neal Rubin, Cisco Systems Inc.’s senior litigation counsel, said that a couple of years ago e-discovery cost Cisco $1,200 for every person who had information relevant to a suit. He also said Cisco is now giving its work to firms that can best manage e-discovery, though he declined to name them. The cost of mismanaging electronic data can be huge. In April, a New York jury awarded securities broker Laura Zubulake $29 million in a sex discrimination suit after Zubulake claimed her employer, UBS Warburg, hadn’t retained incriminating e-mail. The judge ultimately agreed and told the jury that it could infer that the lost e-mail was unfavorable to UBS.

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