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University of Florida E-Discovery Conference – Write Up

The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law hosted its annual E-Discovery Conference on February 8th and 9th of this year. Here's what happened at this year's event.

The University of Florida’s Levin College of Law hosted its annual E-Discovery Conference on February 8th and 9th of this year. Attended by hundreds in person and thousands online going over the emerging trends in e-discovery, this conference is perhaps the most forward-thinking gathering of legal professionals in the industry. This was the 10th annual E-Discovery Conference hosted by the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, led by the renowned Professor William “Bill” Hamilton. Trustpoint One was able to send Jerry McIver, Director of Cyber Services, to this conference in person, meeting many of the leading professionals in e-discovery.

Sessions at the conference covered several areas of e-discovery, including, but not limited to artificial intelligence, deep fakes, challenges of workplace collaboration tools, negotiating ESI protocols, the importance of diversity and inclusion in e-discovery, and overall topics in the industry from a judge’s view. Deep fakes have come a long way as some software creates video and audio clips to the point that a viewer may not be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is fake. Artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, is also presenting a major challenge for people to dissimilate information. With the emergence of this technology, the legal industry must verify if information has been falsified, which will increasingly become a concern and could lead to distrust of judges and juries. On the flip side, as discussed in one of the sessions, artificial intelligence can be used for good in e-discovery, but the industry must understand that there are ethical obligations with the use of this technology. We must act responsibly and tailor the capabilities of artificial intelligence to be used in the manner that it is intended.

Among the emerging topics was a discussion on the challenges faced by workplace collaboration tools. Every year, we see new workplace software being used, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack. With new software comes new operational challenges to extract and use certain data in litigation. When negotiating ESI protocols, practitioners should consider workplace collaboration tools as unique and present realistic and appropriate measures. Negotiating in good faith can and not burying opposing parties into unreasonable data dumps was also a major point of discussion in one of the sessions.

Last but not least, the main event was the judicial panel. This session had some major hitting points about the role of a judge through e-discovery including how active should a judge be in the e-discovery process and how knowledgeable should a judge be about technology. The panel also discussed the topic of waiving privilege by use of a work email. The judicial panel remarked on depending on who you are in an organization and whether you are using your work email for personal use, waiver of privilege can occur. The panel’s final remarks included concerns about data transfers in litigation with data privacy regulations from other jurisdictions affecting how we conduct e-discovery.

Congratulations to Professor William “Bill” Hamilton on receiving a lifetime achievement award for his efforts and dedication in organizing this annual event. We hope to see everyone at this event next year!