Relativity Fest 2022 was a fabulous time after my ILTA travel catastrophe. Instead of booking up briefings with the Relativity team, key channel partners and peers, I built a session agenda and spent a lot of time talking with attendees. This blog will be a mix of my own (italics) and attendee perspectives on Fest and how Fest topics signal eDiscovery trends. Let’s start with the keynote and a couple great sessions.
CEO Mike Gamson kicked off the hour-long keynote highlighting the scale and diversity of Fest with2300+ attendees from 25 countries attending 60 sessions on 11 different tracks. The Relativity mission statement to ‘Organize data, discovery the truth and act on it’ anchored the following speakers covering new Relativity applications, architecture and features released or on roadmap. In keynote or focus session, RelativityOne took the limelight over server with 57% of customers now in the cloud (100k+ users, 14+ PB and 168B files).
The new modules expand Relativity’s footprint downstream with legal customers now managing Contracts (Heretik), Patents, Privilege/Privacy (TextIQ) and Trace (VerQu compliance/data breach) using practical AI tools for specific usage scenarios. Many of the new modules derive from acquisitions or Relativity alumni. Chris Brown published an excellent Roadmap recap. Here are a few of my notable observations and highlights:
- Called out ethics of AI as public initiative and closing keynote by Dr. Timnit Gebru.
- Heretik has dozens of existing customers. Integrated module available mid-2023.
- TextIQ Relativity integration building customers
- New RelativityOne data management console on the horizon that will allow admins to see matter level storage. Got applause, long requested.
- November release, import and export without desktop tool. User direct import to matter. Data transport mechanism to maximize throughput. Export to staging, local and sharing link. All via web.
- Recently added M365 Teams collector with pre-collection insights.
- iManage integration.
- Mobility of workflows across matters. Synchronization of workflow updates across matters.
- Integrations are still collecting into RelativityOne. The overall multi-matter model still requires exporting and migrating data.
- Automated workflows. This was a big focus of Relativity competitors for last couple years.
Coffee Break: Red Carpet Relativity Fest Kick-off Presented by EDRM –
Good war stories from past Fest’s with a cast of familiar eDiscovery peers. It made me realize that eDiscovery has been around long enough that many starting their eDiscovery careers lack the history and context of evolving technologies, practices, caselaw and market dynamics. We need to memorize eDiscovery history for the next generation of peers.
Normalizing Modern Data from Preservation to Production
The modern data session was packed. The session agenda was ambitious and probably more than an hour could cover. It was nice to see Jerry Bui, Nikolai Pozdniakov, Susan Stone and Monica Harris get technical with BYOD and collaboration messaging platforms.
- Even defining relevant data is challenging with phones and complex web portals.
- Reliance on custodian questionnaires can be problematic. Interviews allow interaction and qualification of sources to scope.
- Highlighting overall challenge of IT to keep up with evolving sources. Many eDJ clients request annual/biannual briefings with stakeholders to spot gaps and new data sources in pipeline.
- Favorite quote – “BYOD means bring your own disaster”.
- Custodians can say no in privacy world. The trend of seeing more custodial refusals and factory resets on collection is very interesting.
- Teams struggling to review modern data.
- Modern data is essentially being reconstructed via collection/processing by eDiscovery teams.
- We have no standards yet to guide practitioners.
- Custodians communicate across data siloes, forcing reconstruction to understand context.
- No solutions or documentation for new generation of MSFT Loop and Google Smart Chip dynamic components.
- Providers are in research mode because MSFT has not published docs or tools to collect/process new dynamic components with full context or user history.
- No linkage between versions of linked reference attachments and messages. Again eDiscovery having to reconstruct these relationships.
The e-Discovery State of the Union
David Horrigan set up a fun privacy vs. transparency grudge match debate between journalists and litigators with a guest judge to award the charity prize. As you might imagine, the debated posits sprang from recent headlines such as the Alex Jones phone content. Another Horrigan standing room only session with lots of interesting perspectives.
As one of the most popular long running sessions, the 9th year audience filled the big ballroom to capacity. David Horrigan even managed to entice UK judicial representation on the panel. The confidentiality vs. transparency theme was elevated to the bench for this session. The session covered an amazing breadth of perspectives and content.
- The Supreme Court Dobbs (Roe overturned) leak. No expectation that the investigation results will ever be released.
- Cameras in the court. Best presentation video, watch I am not a cat.
- Justice Kennedy made good point that cameras in the court would improve public opinion and respect for legal system, while others highlighted the risks to witnesses and potential for juror intimidation.
- Best Freudian slip – “We can still make the process worse….work.” Re: Overly broad protective orders.
- Long term trend of lawyers trying to cloak the legal process from public scrutiny with protective orders.
- Concern over documents exposed in open court driving force of corporate litigation to arbitration.
- Unexpected benefits of zoom meetings for productivity balanced against the risk of tech errors.
Coming to Relativity Fest without a packed agenda provided the opportunity to talk with attendees at meals, waiting for sessions to start and on the exhibit floor. I will do my best to give an anonymized source description to put comments in perspective. Quotes are as best remembered and scribbled into my tablet.
- Law firm eDiscovery manager– Came for education and to collaborate with others to patch workflows. Everybody uses too many tools. Need direct access to Relativity experts in the sessions for complex questions. Overall felt that Fest was much better than Legalweek for actual practitioners vs. providers doing business.
- Long term provider, Relativity partner and Fest attendee – “Feels like we are losing the educational focus. Pitching RelativityOne hard.”
- eDiscovery O.G. – “So many people I do not recognize. So many young faces. I miss the days when we knew everyone.” I have definitely had those moments since returning to the conference circuit.
- Well known Relativity competitor spokesperson without a badge – “You don’t see me. I am not here.”
- Exhausted looking Relativity staff giving me directions to my next session – “At least I do not need to get my miles in today after bouncing back and forth between east and west towers.”
- Registration staff – “You really need that stamp card. We have fabulous merch this year.”
- Corporate legal – “I filled my stamp card. Worth it even if I am hoarse from talking to every exhibit booth.” She had a stuffed backpack and was smiling on Friday.
- Hid her badge after recognizing me – “Did not expect to be back, but Reveal was barely functional.”
- Exhibit booth staff – “I think that they were going for an industrial vibe. Booth traffic is good during meals or breaks, but dead during sessions. They want the sessions.”
- Heard by the headshot booth – “Wow. I can see my pandemic pounds.” That might have been me.
- Another eDiscovery O.G. via text – “Would love to catch up if I can figure out where I am. So many escalators!”
- eDiscovery celebrity – “You will not see me doing any interpretive ribbon dancing. Not going to happen.”
- Morning after Relativity party at Field Museum – “I headed out when the music cranked up. Two hours later I was still bumping into folks I had missed at the conference. It was a good night.”
Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being published. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations.
See Greg’s latest pic on Instagram.