Bengaluru, India – In a significant first of its kind, a major e-discovery conference in India was held in December 2018 at the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru.
Jason R. Baron, a lawyer based in Washington, DC, associated with the law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP, and formerly a trial lawyer at the US Department of Justice said, “This first-ever conference in Bengaluru represented an opportunity to showcase how lawyers and computer scientists in the US are approaching the difficult task of collecting, preserving, and searching for relevant evidence amongst exponentially growing amounts of electronically stored information.”
Speaking later to IAT, Baron, who did pioneering work as the first Director of Litigation at the US National Archives and Records Administration, said, “It was a great experience to exchange ideas and views on how advocates in India view e-discovery.”
Chairing the proceedings, Baron cautioned about the intricacies of the process: “The purpose of the conference was simply to provide a look at how complex e-discovery using Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques is conducted in the United States – but it was not meant to suggest that India should necessarily adopt US-style e-discovery. Each country needs to think through how it will confront the fact that we increasingly live in a digital world with evidence in digital form, and how different types of legal systems will go about using such data.”
The conference was also graced by experts on the subject like James A. Sherer, a partner in the New York City office of BakerHostetler; and Taylor Hoffman, Senior Vice-President & Global Practice head of eDiscovery Management for the Swiss Re America holding company corporation.
Sherer gave a talk on his co-authored paper “Picking Up the SlackTM: Legal and Information Governance Considerations for New(er) Technologies,” and Hoffman spoke on “Artificial Intelligence and Associated Clinical Data Privacy Considerations.” Both papers can be found online on the conference website: https://capstonelegal.in/e-discovery-conference.
Also speaking were Professor Douglas Oard, a computer scientist at the University of Maryland, and Dr. Jyothi K. Vinjumur, a senior data scientist in AI working for Walmart USA in Austin, Texas, who gave a joint talk on “Jointly Minimizing the Expected Costs of Review for Responsiveness and Privilege in E-Discovery.”
Top talents and officials from India also attended, enlightening the audience with their take on the subject. Sujit K. Pruseth from the Government of India’s Office of the Cabinet Minister for the Ministry of Skill Development, addressed the audience briefly while R. Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School in Bengaluru opened the conference with his own reflections on the emergence of AI in the practice of law.
The conference was sponsored by Ernst & Young and by Knovos. Pavan Jankiraman, International Director, Forensic & Integrity Services at Ernst & Young, and Kirit Palsana, Director, Knovos LLC, were also invited to give presentations about the services they offer.
During the day-long proceedings, participants were also treated to the India premiere of a documentary film about e-discovery, called “The Decade of Discovery.” The documentary by Joe Looby, is about a government attorney (Jason R. Baron) on a quest to find a better way to search White House emails, and a teacher (the late Richard Braman, Executive Director of The Sedona Conference®), who takes a stand for civil justice on the electronic frontier. The movie is available on Amazon.
“Electronic discovery,” known as “e-discovery,” is a pre-trial process used in courts in the United States, the UK, and increasingly in some forums in India, where parties to litigation seek to discovery relevant documents in electronic formats in the possession of the opposing party. Increasingly, relevant documents in litigation involve e-mail, texts, information appearing on social media, and databases of all kinds, in formats that contain evidence not found in hard-copy or paper equivalents.
At the invite of Ashish Kumar Singh, an advocate at the law firm of Capstone Legal, three American lawyers and two computer scientists participated in the full-day conference in which both students at the law school and practitioners from all over India were invited to attend.