Jeffrey Wolff of ZyLAB sits down with host Carl Morrison at the 2019 NALA Conference & Expo to discuss eDiscovery: what it is, what it covers, and how it works. They also discuss how new solutions like machine learning help attorneys and paralegals process the growing expanse of data faster and more effectively than ever before.
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The Paralegal Voice
NALA Annual 2019: eDiscovery with Jeffrey Wolff of ZyLAB
Carl Morrison: Hello and welcome to The Paralegal Voice. I am Carl Morrison, the host of The Paralegal Voice, and I am recording live on location, here from the 2019 NALA Conference & Expo in lovely Scottsdale, Arizona. You probably have heard my little intro about the first day and we are still in first day session here.
And today’s show, of course is being sponsored by NALA, CourtFiling.net, Legalinc and ServeNow, and truly we thank our sponsors for their generous support to the show.
Joining me today is Jeffrey Wolff of ZyLAB.
Jeffrey, thank you so much. You and I met actually at CLOC a few months ago.
Jeffrey Wolff: It’s correct, in Vegas.
Carl Morrison: In Vegas. And he is actually here with ZyLAB as one of our exhibitors in the Exhibit Hall, and he and I got to talking and I said, hey Jeff, I would love to interview you about eDiscovery. I love eDiscovery. I’m a nerd.
Jeffrey Wolff: Me too.
Carl Morrison: Good. So it’s a nerd-nerd conversation here.
Jeffrey Wolff: That’s right.
Carl Morrison: So, Jeffrey, thank you so much for coming on today’s show.
Jeffrey Wolff: My pleasure Carl, thanks.
Carl Morrison: So before we get into the meat and potatoes of the interview of eDiscovery, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your background?
Jeffrey Wolff: Sure. So, I wouldn’t say I have the traditional eDiscovery background. I’ve been with ZyLAB now for almost five years. Prior to that I spent a great deal of time on the IT side of the world, more in enterprise content and search.
So, a lot about documents, but not specifically the legal aspect of documents. But I kind of fell in love with eDiscovery when I joined the organization, so —
Carl Morrison: Fantastic.
Jeffrey Wolff: Kind of deep dived into it.
Carl Morrison: I have been, and of course, listeners know, I have been a paralegal for 27 years, and I don’t wanted to say my age because I was three when I started as paralegal.
Jeffrey Wolff: Right.
Carl Morrison: So, right — yeah, do the math. But, technology has in the 27 years greatly advanced, and so much has happened in my short 27 years of experience and I recognized early on the importance of understanding and knowing technology, and staying on top of and as technology has developed, because even when I first started to where this is now, two totally different worlds.
Jeffrey Wolff: Correct.
Carl Morrison: So, we are going to talk a little bit about discovery, so let’s kind of hop into the topic. So if I have a new paralegal listening to the show or may be someone that’s new to eDiscovery, what is eDiscovery? When we say eDiscovery, what does that mean to someone that’s totally agreeing to it?
Jeffrey Wolff: Right. So electronic discovery is really just the continued practice of discovery of ESI or Electronically Stored Information, so it’s really no different than — as I like to talk to people about the old days of banker boxes and armies of attorneys or paralegals doing document review in a room, in the basement, it’s not different in any way in terms of process, it is different in terms of technology.
So, primary communications today in 2019 are electronic. Email is the largest portion of any electronic discovery case typically, and so most communication is email-based, but you also have a large variety of electronic documents’ loose files that would be part of it.
And so, it’s very much the same as traditional discovery, in that you still have to sort out your documents, you have to be able to review them and you have to be able to tag, classify, redact, and produce them.
Carl Morrison: Right. One thing that I tell students — paralegal students that I teach and also individuals that company work for, that you have to remember every click of a mouse is creating evidence, it’s creating a trail, it’s creating data; we will talk about what data is, but people don’t think about, you think about your cell phone and an iPhone is virtually a mini computer, and everything that you do, the apps, the processes behind how an app even operate is creating a trail, is creating that eDiscovery that could be potentially relevant to a matter. And so it’s all about the electronic.
Jeffrey Wolff: And you bring up smart devices and those are even more difficult and challenging from an electronic discovery standpoint because they deal an ephemeral data.
So we talk about email, which is you send it and it’s done. I mean, loosen files or create documents, those are done when you create them. You can still make modifications to them but that’s different version.
Start talking about things on social media; SMS, iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all of those things have started to become discoverable and they are ephemeral, so they can change, they can disappear. It’s not quite the same, so it also presents challenges in eDiscovery world.
Carl Morrison: We could have a whole — I was going to say a whole different discussion about that world in eDiscovery, but we will keep it kind of high-level here.
So we are talking about eDiscovery, and same process, whether it’s a paper process or the electronic version, litigation in the civil world, the process of discovery of doing that process of getting data, looking it and reviewing it. So, where does and how — when does the eDiscovery process start?
Jeffrey Wolff: Oh, it begins — it depends on where — what is involved, but essentially it’s always the same. If there is any litigation or a pretending litigation, the thought there and there might be litigation, so it obviously always starts with a litigation hold. If you even perceive that there is a whiff that you might actually be involved in litigation, you have an obligation under the law to preserve your data as FRCP tells us that, and that’s mostly electronic now.
So you have an obligation to hold and notify all of the custodians within your organization that they have to hold their data, that’s done electronically typically now.
Sometimes it’s done as archaically as with Excel spreadsheets and emails and sometimes it’s done with programs specifically designed for that purpose. But beyond that, then it’s a matter of preserving the content, it’s a matter of collecting the content up with any filtering or killing you want to do, processing it, we can get into deeper discussions about processing, eDiscovery processing and then bring it into environment where you can review it, you can redact it, you can tag it, you can classify it, and you can produce it.
Carl Morrison: Same as that. Yes, if you were going to do — right, old-fashioned, pulling out a piece of paper and taking out a black marker to —
Jeffrey Wolff: Exactly, and that’s the thing I’d like to talk to attorneys and paralegals about the fact that it’s not scary, because it’s not really different than what they are used to, it’s just a different media.
Carl Morrison: Right, right, exactly right. You mentioned data —
Jeffrey Wolff: Yup.
Carl Morrison: You know —
Jeffrey Wolff: Big scary word.
Carl Morrison: It is a big scary word.
Jeffrey Wolff: Yeah.
Carl Morrison: And people go, what is data?
Jeffrey Wolff: Everything is data.
Carl Morrison: Everything is data. So what is it?
Jeffrey Wolff: Sure. So any electronic storage of information it’s probably the easiest way to describe it and data kind of runs the gamut. I had a conversation, obviously we talked about e-mails and loose files, things on your smart phone, but data can be anything.
I had a conversation with an attorney a few months ago where she said she was involved in litigation where the sensors in smart concrete were responsive to the case and they had to collect information from the smart sensors in the concrete, that’s data. Anything you do in this world creates data. So — and of course, with it and the advances in technology, the data as we call data wave, constantly increases. So there’s more-and-more data and that becomes more-and-more difficult to manage it.
Carl Morrison: Right. You and I were talking before, we got started and you mention owning a Tesla.
Jeffrey Wolff: Yes.
Carl Morrison: I hope that’s okay to mention that.
Jeffrey Wolff: It’s fine. I am a big Tesla fan.
Carl Morrison: But Tesla if you think about the system, the operating system, name any newer automobile, the computer system is creating data.
Jeffrey Wolff: Absolutely.
Carl Morrison: People don’t think about 20 years ago it was becoming more common that cars were having what were known as the black boxes, the computers and the black box that is recording the breaking speed and things like that. Well, now there are so many different sensors on the car that’s measuring so many different things that that stuff is relevant, and it is important particularly to NBA case, a product’s liability case, that’s when you are dealing with the manufacturer on the automobile, things of that nature. So yeah, data is everywhere.
Jeffrey Wolff: Yeah, in addition to the standard telemetry in my car, I mean my car is covered in cameras, LiDAR and radar sensors, so it’s incredible the amount of data it’s creating.
Carl Morrison: It’s scary.
Jeffrey Wolff: Yup. The amount of data, the amount of data that’s out there. Think about devices like Amazon Echoes and Google Home Devices that are recording voice snippets in your house, that’s data too.
Carl Morrison: Well, I am even looking at my Rocketbook that I have got here in front of me, that well, it’s a paper format and I can write on it. I use my phone to take a picture and it automatically uploads to a respective area that I tell it to — that I have already pre-programmed it to automatically go and that whole trail of the photo on my phone uploading specifically to a respective location is all being, all those steps it’s happening that I go click, click and that’s done, all that’s data.
Jeffrey Wolff: And we’d be re-missed if we talk about data and not talk about metadata?
Carl Morrison: Right.
Jeffrey Wolff: So, I mean, we say that metadata is simply the data about data, and that’s the most important thing effectively, because metadata is what helps us indentify that the documents that we have are authentic and un-tempered.
Carl Morrison: You think about go back to the — I keep these in iPhone, because it’s one of the most common.
Jeffrey Wolff: 00:10:01
Carl Morrison: Right and photographs that you take. If you have not set your settings to hide a lot of different data, a photograph will reveal potentially the actual location of where you were at when you took the photograph, and it’s that – right, and so, yeah, it’s Big Brother watching.
Jeffrey Wolff: Your perfect example is, if you have Google Maps on your phone, there is a timeline function that is on by default, and I actually like it, I leave it on my default and it’s helped me in a number of cases where I had to go back and retrace my steps and something, but you can go back by calendar months in the past and it will show you where you were based on the location of the phone at the time so it will show your path for the day and any pictures you took in line with when you took them and where you took them, it’s fascinating and scary.
Carl Morrison: And it’s funny that so many different — when we talk about eDiscovery people think, oh, well, it’s only respective to a product’s case or an NVA case, family law cases are affected by the very issue of tracking and being able to see where the phone was at, at certain times of the day, can be relevant to a family law type matter. So it touches all the areas — virtually all areas of law, could be eDiscovery is relevant too.
Jeffrey Wolff: It used to be the realm of simply litigation, but I think that’s changed a lot.
Carl Morrison: It’s changed a lot. So how does the process work for eDiscovery if you could kind of briefly talk high level?
Jeffrey Wolff: So at a high level, any eDiscovery is typically going to follow what we call the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, the EDRM, and so that just means you have some sort of information governance upfront or maybe not.
Carl Morrison: Depending on the company.
Jeffrey Wolff: Depending on the company and I have talked to everything across the spectrum but you identify the documents you are going you need so whether they may be in play or not, you collect them up and you process them so we can get deeper into processing, and then you analyze them and that could be done through Assisted Review or Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, it’s a whole another topic.
And you review them and then you produce them, and it’s a very straightforward step, and sometimes there are cyclical parts to it where you have to come back and do multiple iterations.
Carl Morrison: So it’s processing and we are going to talk about that, talking about the actual processing; again, my geekdom comes out when we talk about it because it just fascinates me when you actually start talking about processing and getting the data, and inserting it in order to even review it.
So let’s talk about how does the data get processed, when you say “processed”, what does that mean?
Jeffrey Wolff: So it’s my favorite part. Processing is a very broad term so it can mean a lot of things, but ultimately in an eDiscovery world what it means is you’ve taken your data from disparate sources often and you have collected it up and you are doing a number of things, you are de-duplicating the data.
Obviously, you don’t want to review the same document multiple times if you and I should send an email back and forth, the attorney doesn’t need to look at two copies of it. It is DeNISTing, so without getting too geeky. The National Institute of Standards and Technology publishes a list of all the software that is standard off-the-shelf out there. And so the NIST list is all of those files unless you strip that out of your matter.
It is a hashing document so that’s how we create a digital fingerprint, if you will, where we can identify what a unique document is, so we create a digital fingerprint. It is threading, so again back to the email conversation, you don’t necessarily want to review, Carl and I going back and forth about what we are going to do and you want to see the whole thing as one thread, one conversation, that’s important.
But it can be a lot of other things. So we do enrichment during processing so we do what we can professional text mining where we can extract the entity information out of a document so not only show you that Apple, the computer company was mentioned on the document, we can actually identify that it’s Apple computers, not apple, the fruit, that’s important.
Identifying the language of a document, so if you need machine translation, it can be done. Identifying a unique communication of e-mail, so if the message was sent between key custodians or internally within a company or externally within a company, identifying that information is all that is part of processing and a bunch more.
Carl Morrison: Again, a whole another, we can have about 10 different shows and maybe I will need to do that, maybe I will need to have kind of a sequence of multipart on eDiscovery because there is a lot to it. I’m sure some of you listeners are listening to this and you are probably thinking, wholly, free wholly, so if you don’t have any experience to it, it might be a little scary.
And so some of what Jeff is talking about, and Jeff, you can chime in accordingly, but it’s not scary, there are people such as yourself and individuals and companies and even classes and community colleges that help paralegals and lawyers understand eDiscovery because you shouldn’t be afraid. At this age and this time, you can’t be afraid of eDiscovery.
Jeffrey Wolff: No, what’s great is I’ve spoken with a number of paralegals today here at NALA and a lot of them are saying that oh, eDiscovery, that’s the next big buzzword. I am like, well, it’s not really the next big buzzword, it’s been here for a while but it’s good that you are learning about and there are a lot of them are, they are taking classes on, they are taking continuing legal education credits on it, and that’s fantastic.
And we are also starting to see which is really nice, is we are seeing law schools start teaching eDiscovery.
Carl Morrison: Yeah, finally — to me, finally.
Jeffrey Wolff: I know. I know, I spoke a few months ago, I was asked by a professor at Michigan State University just to speak at their — on their eDiscovery class and talk to the budding attorneys about eDiscovery tools, and that’s great to see that that kind of education is taking place now.
Carl Morrison: Attorney that I worked for actually speaks to local law school on legal technology because it’s now part of the curriculum in law school and I know a lot of paralegal programs have a standalone, it’s a semester-based 16-week course of whether it be eDiscovery or even like legal technology more than Word, and it’s everything that touches in the legal community from e-billing to eDiscovery.
Jeffrey Wolff: Oh, case management.
Carl Morrison: Case management, there is everything absolutely.
Jeffrey Wolff: Yeah, and you really can’t get ahead of this point without at least understanding the technology landscape.
Carl Morrison: Right. So for vendor like yourself what is your biggest challenge when you work with attorneys and paralegals who may not be technology proficient and I am — because I am a nerd and I have stayed up on technology as time has progressed, not everybody is a nerd and a geek like us. So some people don’t stay on top of it and then they go, oh, wait, what is this about, what is the eDiscovery about? So what’s your biggest challenge when you encounter and face with that?
Jeffrey Wolff: I would say it’s the — what I like to call the — I can’t, I don’t have time to stop digging with my hands to use the shovel you want me to use. I know these tools will help me and will be faster for me, but I don’t have time to stop and learn how to use that.
I think that’s probably the biggest challenge because we often find, we run a workshop, we come in for three hours and we will let attorneys on a hands-on handgun capacity do a short exercise where they have to do a keyword search for the specific topic that we’ve given them, and they have to hunt and peck and find their way to a bunch the documents that are relevant.
And then we switch the exercise and we teach them how to do the same thing with Artificial Intelligence, and see how much faster it is for them to get the right set of documents when they never come close with keyword search. And the difference is amazing. The lightbulb goes off, but they have to be willing to give up the time just to even set the workshop, so that’s a challenge.
Carl Morrison: And I think it’s vitally important for paralegals especially because we are the behind-the-scenes drivers of understanding technology and helping educate our attorneys that we work for, and I think it’s vitally important for a paralegal to come and take classes like you talk about to — when you come to a NALA conference or any legal conference, if there are vendors like yourselves go and you don’t know, go talk to, Jeffrey Wolff.
Jeffrey Wolff: Exactly, we are here to educate. That’s our primary function, so.
Carl Morrison: Right, exactly. So I got a fun question. I always have to have a fun or funny question to ask. So, Jeffrey Wolff, if you had a movie made about you and your life, who would play the part of Jeffrey Wolff? Who would you want to see in the lead of Jeffrey Wolff?
Jeffrey Wolff: That is incredibly challenging. Today’s actors or any actor?
Carl Morrison: Any actor, actually, I will say any actor.
Jeffrey Wolff: Well, I would love it for — for it to be Harrison Ford, not today’s Harrison Ford, but 1977 Star Wars Harrison Ford.
Carl Morrison: But why — I am going to ask why?
Jeffrey Wolff: Because I would like to think that that’s the type of lifestyle hat but it’s not.
Carl Morrison: So, my listeners, he does not have the scar on his chin so he has not been cracking a whip at anybody.
Jeffrey Wolff: That’s right.
Carl Morrison: He didn’t rescue, he didn’t damsel in a tomb.
Jeffrey Wolff: No, no, just a family man.
Carl Morrison: Well, Jeff, thank you so much. We have come to the end of today’s show. I really want to say thank you so much for taking the time to meet and talk about and definitely we may have to have a multipart series on eDiscovery definitely.
So if anybody wanted to follow you on any social media or get in contact with you, or maybe want to have particular questions about you or your company, how would they get in contact with you?
Jeffrey Wolff: Absolutely. So, again, pleasure to be here, Carl. Of course we’ll be reaching out from the company zylab.com, I am on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JeffreyWolff, easy to find me, and that’s probably the easiest way to get hold of me.
Carl Morrison: Okay, fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Jeff, and that’s all the time we have for this episode of The Paralegal Voice here from the NALA Conference in Scottsdale.
Of course this show is brought to you by the generous support of NALA, CourtFiling.net, Legalinc and ServeNow. And again thank you sponsors so much for being a support to our show and thank you to listeners to tuning into today’s show.
Definitely, if you like what you’ve heard, please rate and review us in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting application.
I’m Carl Morrison, host of The Paralegal Voice and if you have questions definitely reach out to me and send them to [email protected].
So definitely, listeners, thanks so much for tuning in, and until next time, thanks for listening.
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