A Boot Camp Worth Attending

A few weeks ago I was reading Jason Velasco's blog post about eDiscovery Journal's new boot camps. I could hear his enthusiasm through his words and I appreciated that he gave kudos to the team he works with. When I read Jason's sentence about people in our industry asking for something different in an educational event instead of talking heads, I totally agreed.

So, even though I had already received an e-mail about the boot camp in Washington DC (which I had ignored), Jason's article made me click on the link and register for the Predictive Coding boot camp even though I had to pay the $150 myself. In fact, I heard later from Karl Schieneman's podcast, that the event price was purposely affordable and that did allow me to easily make the decision to pay for it myself.

To be honest, once I clicked on the link and I read more about the boot camp, I wanted to attend. First, the audience was limited to law firm attorneys, corporate counsel and their litigation support teams. Wasn't it cool that they thought we litigation support types should attend too? Personally, I think litigation support professionals have a good chance of helping their attorneys focus on this new technology.

Next, I liked that there was a female judge speaker, Judge Nora Barry Fischer. The other verbiage that was attractive to me personally was “judges to provide insights into how courts respond to technology such as predictive coding” and “case studies, workflows, pros and cons of different approaches.”

As you know, I have been in this industry a long time and I have attended a bunch of different events. Although I love absorbing knowledge from others, I am tired of some of the event formats and I am tired of seeing the same speakers at all of the events. I also prefer to hear from a person who has been in trenches — I like the stories and the post mortems. I feel like I can get good takeaways from a speaker that is transparent about what went wrong and how they would do things differently next time.  Frankly, I think the panel format is getting old and the larger panels really don't give each panelist enough time to tell their story.

One of my favorite webinars on predictive coding was one that Servient hosted last year, but I was drawn to it because they had a partner from a local DC firm, Greg Kaufman, who had just completed his first predictive coding case.  He shared with us why he thought his case was a good choice for predictive coding. He shared his reservations in trying a new technology and he described how he added a little bit of old school techniques so that he could get to a point where he felt comfortable with the results and felt he had done enough due diligence. To me, that was a “real” conversation with total transparency.

The predictive coding boot camp was on Wednesday of this week. The day before the boot camp, I saw Karl Schieneman's blog post about a recent podcast he recorded that explained the rationale behind the boot camps. In the blog post, he shared that he had spent 8 weeks preparing the materials for the boot camp. He explained that they “are trying to go much deeper into statistics and terminology than most CLE's go.” I listened to the podcast during my drive to DC on the morning of the boot camp.

So, after all of their intentions, what did I think of the boot camp? I'm glad you asked. Overall, I thought it was excellent. I will share some of my observations.

1. They intentionally asked several attorneys from the local DC area to attend as “facilitators”. These were attorneys that have used predictive coding and could share their experiences. This was a great idea and it worked really well. I even had the chance to ask my own questions of them. Eli Nelson, Graham Rollins and Robert Keeling, I appreciate that you took time out of your day to share your experiences and advice from lessons learned.

2. Karl Schieneman did most of the presenting and all of the moderating. He had a list of questions to ask the judges and he brought Tom Gricks down from Pittsburgh to participate in the discussion. Barry Murphy shared with us some of the results of eDiscovery Journal's recent survey. David Grant shared an excellent list of bullet points about his experiences. The format was very relaxed. Karl has a quirky way about him and he did a great job of keeping it real, adding some humor and giving each of the facilitators plenty of time to share their insights.

3. Even though it was an all day meeting, I appreciated that it started at 11:30 AM and that it was broken up into sections. The happy hour was a nice networking touch as well.

4. All of the materials were shared via a Dropbox link the evening before the event. I had a chance to look them over the night before so I could get a feel for what the content would be. I appreciated that.

5. I really appreciated all of the hard work that went into the presentation materials. I could tell that there was a focus on teaching. I have not had a chance to use predictive coding in a case yet and I really wanted to walk away with some advice from those that had. The format was not presentation style, even though there was a PowerPoint. It really was more of a conversation and even a brainstorming session at times between Eli, Graham, Robert, Tom, David and Karl. When the 3 judges were posed questions, they shared some experiences from each of their geographic regions. One common thread amongst them was that if the attorneys would spend the quality time up front during the meet and confer stage with opposing counsel and in the cost-benefit analysis with their client, so much money, time, headaches and fighting could be saved and avoided.

eDiscovery Journal and Karl Schieneman are making their way around the country with these new boot camps. They are open to visiting more cities if there is enough interest. Personally, I believe it was well worth it and I encourage you to attend one, even if you have to take a vacation day and/or pay for it yourself.

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