Pinguelo: Thank you, Allison, for sitting down with me to discuss your new book eDiscovery Plain & Simple. Why the book and what do you expect your readers to take away from it?
Brecher : In early 2006, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. appointed me to the role of managing electronic discovery. At that time, the federal court eDiscovery rule amendments had not yet been implemented and court decisions were being issued daily - or so it seemed - that imposed sanctions for document spoliation. With so many computer systems at the company to understand and with eDiscovery case law growing rapidly, it became difficult for me to apply legal principles to our day-to-day management of electronically stored information. I didn't really understand the intricacies of information technology when I started practicing in this area and I longed for a Cliff's Notes -type of guide about information technology for someone like me who did not have a computer science background. Also, judging by the number of calls I get from outside counsel and attorneys at other companies who are new to eDiscovery, I knew I was not alone in the search for such a resource.
So, I teamed up with my co-author, Shawnna Childress who brings with her over 15 years of expertise in Information Technology, to write eDiscovery Plain & Simple. eDiscovery Plain & Simple is the only book on the market that I've found that explains how computers operate and store data in a way that is designed for attorneys with little, if any, technical background. Our book offers strategies and practical suggestions to make discovery reasonable and cost-efficient.
Pinguelo: How do you approach teaching a subject like computers in a way that we can all understand?
Brecher : Before the federal court eDiscovery rule amendments, attorneys, particularly litigation practitioners, were generally accustomed to delegating document preservation and collection activities to a client's IT staff. The rule amendments changed all of that and imposed an obligation on counsel to actively manage that process throughout the course of a litigation matter. During the throes of litigation, with many looming deadlines, attorneys have little time to learn about a client's computer systems.
eDiscovery Plain & Simple explains - through the most basic terminology and visuals - how computers, servers, and peripherals operate and store data. In order to make this book as user-friendly as possible, technical concepts are explained in a basic fashion and photographs, screenshots, tips, and checklists are interspersed throughout the book.
Pinguelo: Tell me a little bit about your backgrounds.
Brecher : I graduated from law school in 1996. Before and during law school, I worked as a field reporter/producer for several television news programs. I loved the challenge of investigating a story and putting it together in a clear and concise way. At Marsh, which I joined in 2002, I serve as Senior Litigation Counsel and Director of Information Management and Strategy. My dual roles here give me a unique perspective about eDiscovery - I help design my company's records management policies, advise our IT department about many information technology projects, and handle those responsibilities by drawing on my trial experience and assessing how certain projects will affect my company's liability risks.
Shawnna Childress is the co-founder and Worldwide Executive Director of Women in eDiscovery, a non-profit worldwide organization that brings together businesswomen interested in technology related to the legal industry. She is also an Associate Director at Navigant Consulting, Inc. She has more than 15 years of experience in the legal services industry including in the main areas of eDiscovery, litigation readiness, and data analysis with a focus on strategic consulting in support of all phases of litigation and investigations.
Pinguelo: Is there a more personal purpose or drive behind the book?
Brecher : Well, writing this book has been especially meaningful for me because a portion of the proceeds will be used to buy technology for schools for visually impaired and physically challenged children. My youngest daughter was born with a congenital vision impairment, so I know first-hand that there are so many children whose education and potential would be enhanced by the aid of closed circuit televisions, special keyboards, and other similar modifications in their classrooms.
Pinguelo: Thank you, Allison. I enjoyed reading eDiscovery Plain & Simple and found that you and Shawnna approach eDiscovery from a fresh, new perspective that is two parts law and one part technology. eDiscovery Plain & Simple guarantees you'll know more about computers than you thought imaginable and is a must-read for in-house counsel and those of us who assist them. Readers can purchase eDiscovery Plain & Simple by visiting www.brecherchildress.com, and the book will be available at amazon.com soon.