The Masters Conference 2008: Search Terms and Financial Banking Services

Masters LogoA morning panel entitled “Best Practices for Developing, Communicating and Applying Search Terms” featured a diverse line of panelists:

The panel shared thoughts and best practices on developing search strategies for electronically stored information.

In my opinion, the real excitement came when an audience member asked the panel to name the tools they successfully use to achieve some of the best practices they were espousing. The panelists were understandably hesitant to name names in the presence of other vendors in the room, but relented and named some well-known vendors like Clearwell, Kroll Ontrack, Cataphora, Catalyst and the IDOL platform from Autonomy.

Towards the end, the discussion was directed at how to successfully work with corporate clients. One panelist lamented that corporate attorneys are sometimes pushed into using specific technology tools from the company’s IT department and those tools may not always be the best from a legal standpoint. An audience member reiterated the point stating that a corporate legal department has to answer to a lot of different departments and competing concerns at the corporation.

Next up was a panel entitled “Trends of the Financial Banking Services Sector” with Linda Riefberg from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Laura Zubulake herself from the infamous e-discovery opinions.

I didn’t quite know what to expect from this panel, but FINRA’s Ms. Riefberg made some excellent points on e-discovery from a regulatory standpoint.

When Ms. Riefberg investigates a broker or securities trader, she goes through much of the same discovery process that we’re more used to seeing in the civil litigation context, although Ms. Riefberg pointed out that discovery is much broader in her investigations.

The biggest takeaway from her presentation is that just like in civil litigation, e-mail always holds the most damning evidence. And in her case, it’s almost always the personal e-mails that employees are sending to their family, friends, and outside acquaintances regarding inside trading or illegal financial tips. Ms. Riefberg stated that what is really incredible is that the broker houses are keeping these personal e-mails even though they only have a duty to keep official business records. But because they are kept, they are fair game for her investigation.

Laura Zubulake stated that in this session she was not going to discuss her famous case (that came later in the day) and proceeded to educate the audience on the simple basics of derivatives. Her point was that attorneys truly need to understand the language used by brokers and traders if they plan to appropriately and successfully represent such clients.

During the audience discussion period, Ms. Zubulake did make one telling comment:

… let’s not forget that “e-mails are written by people, and when markets collapse, people panic.”


  1. Excellent overview. To the comment “One panelist lamented that corporate attorneys are sometimes pushed into using specific technology tools from the company’s IT department and those tools may not always be the best from a legal standpoint,”, I might suggest that based on the fact that very few EDD vendors have a third generation electronic discovery offering (designed for EDD, designed with application to application intergration vs. platform to platform level intergration) that SaaS model services may be the best approach by IT + Legal Teams as SaaS it allows for the delivery of EDD services without the requirement for investment in hardware/software and maintenance resources. Using this approach – IT+Legal Teams may be able to reconcile needs with services that are beneficial for both – without sacrificing any functionality (and actually gaining integration benefits such as efficiency in processing and less “transfer of data” between platforms). Additionally, some of the SaaS model services are considerably less expensive than non-SaaS based offerings – not the first point of consideration in chosing a vendor – but one that very much influences the decision.

    Thanks for sharing the panel overview.

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