Whether it is self-imposed or the industry standard to attend certain “trade show” style conferences, the Carmel Valley eDiscovery Retreat (“CVeDR”), truly was a “retreat” from the norm. Despite the obvious, which was enjoying the beautiful setting of Monterey while hovering over the ocean, the conference attracted many “heavy hitters” in the industry such as Craig Ball, Chris Dale from the UK, and Judge Peck. Moreover, several CEOs of many of the vendors that typically sponsor such conferences traveled from around the country to see what the show was all about. Since I returned, literally dozens of eDiscovery professionals have asked me, “Kevin, how was it?” Thus, I decided to answer that question by compiling a list of some of the distinct ways that the CVeDR differed from other conferences that I have attended:
1.) Participants Actually Attended the Sessions – I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to attend a workshop with competent presenters, slide show presentations, thorough materials, etc. and have no one in the audience. Because the CVeDR had an intimate number of attendees and many of the same were actually presenters/panelists, the majority participated in each other’s workshops and actually sought to gain knowledge or add value.
2.) The Workshop Format was Different – Unlike many conferences that I have attended that regularly commit murder by PowerPoint, the panel sessions were moderated by an industry leader, where specific questions were posed to the distinguished panelists, and then there was a question and answer period following. The only slides used consisted of the panelists’ names, job titles, and companies, which were helpful in order to place the appropriate context of their remarks.
3.) The Exhibit Hall was Intimate – Attendees were able to spend significant periods of time with the vendors that were present. Rather than needing to “retreat” to a vendor’s suite to see a product demo, several vendors were able to show their product to a captive audience without the pressure or hustle and bustle of long lines, etc. like other conferences.
4.) Workshop Topics were Timely – Many of the workshops focused on what most lawyers, law firms, and corporate counsel are worried about: cost, efficiency, accuracy, and defensibility. Thus, there were modules regarding best practices of managing large document reviews, technology assisted review (TAR), cloud based SAAS solutions, and how to manage vendor relationships. This information was crucial because these areas are constantly evolving as more and more firms begin to embrace the technology.
5.) The Intangibles were Incomparable – OK, there aren’t many places where you can leisurely fly in, go play golf, drive to the premium outlets, or the local wineries prior to getting situated in a full service five star hotel for several days in the middle of paradise. The views were majestic and the food that was catered to us on the patio was delightful. The picture to the right should capsulize it.
The CVeDR is a unique experience of discussing complex information in a vacation setting. Although it appears oxymoronic, it actually worked extremely well. Based on the informal poll of my colleagues, many of them enjoyed themselves, brought their families down, and made a “mini-stay-cation” out of the whole trip. Being minutes away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium did not hurt either. There are worse places to talk about “null” and “seed sets”, or petabytes of data, and Carmel Valley is not one of them.
eDiscoveryJournal Contributor Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco, which specializes in Litigation, Diversity and Business Development/Social Media consulting.
For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com or follow him on Twitter @kevnix or “Like” him on Facebook