WE WRITE A FAIR AMOUNT ABOUT TECHNOLOGY HERE AT
Corporate Counsel. We run a monthly column dedicated to how in-house counsel leverage it to do their
jobs. We send out an e-newsletter featuring articles on
technology that appear on CorpCounsel.com. It’s an
area of intense interest for our readers, whether it’s personal use (Android phone or iPhone? Can you use Word
on an iPad?) or liability issues surrounding bring-your-own-device practices.
We also frequently write about e-discovery—sifting
through mountains of data to find the documents you’re
looking for. In the old days, attorneys would just sit in
a room with big boxes full of documents. Later, they
scanned computer files, and probably wrecked their
eyesight in the process. More recently, robots have been
doing the scanning in ways more sophisticated than
simple keyword searches. There are two factors driving
these advances: the need to rein in costs while increasing
accuracy, and ramping up the speed.
Now comes columnist Dan Currell, who writes regularly for our website. In this month’s In-House Tech, he
tells you that you’re doing it all wrong. Technology is
difficult, and a herd mentality all too often leads legal
departments and law firms to buy software and equipment that just doesn’t work. Or lawyers and staff simply
don’t know what to do with the tools they have. He jokingly calls for a return to the quill.
But it doesn’t always have to be that
way, and our cover feature shows why.
In “Forum Shopper’s Revenge,” page
54, our colleague, senior international
correspondent Michael D. Goldhaber, has prepared an excerpt from his
Amazon e-book, “Crude Awakening.” It’s an update of a cover story he
wrote for us in 2010 about the protracted battle between
and the plaintiffs who
sued it in Ecuador.
There’s a lot of fas-
cinating stuff in here,
and naturally, we
urge you to buy the
book. But the excerpt
in this issue shows,
bring a desired result. What happened was this: Despite
clear evidence of fraud on the part of the plaintiffs,
Chevron was hit with a huge environmental judgment
in Ecuador for allegedly damaging Amazon habitats.
Despite appeals to courts in the United States and inter-
national forums, it looked as though Chevron would
have to pay up.
The company’s general counsel, R. Hewitt Pate,
was determined not to let that happen. But he needed
more proof of misdeeds by the other side. And he got
it, through a combination of some old-fashioned analysis and technology. The Ecuadorean court’s judgment
and documents supporting it had striking similarities
to documents found on the plaintiff side’s computer
hard drives. It took painstaking analysis to show that,
indeed, the Ecuadorean court’s judgment was in effect
ghostwritten by the plaintiffs’ side, and not the result of
consideration by an unbiased court.
The matter is still playing out at press time. But the
story provides a real-life look at how the machines we
use (sorry, Dan) can actually be useful, if used properly
ANOTHER STORy WE’vE BEEN FOLLOWING, THE ExPE-
rience of General Motors Co. and the defective ignition
switch, brings to mind the last big automotive scandal, Toyota’s battle with customers over unintended
acceleration. Executive editor David Hechler followed
the Toyota story closely and wrote an award-winning
article about it last year. For his efforts, Hechler snagged
a Neal Award, which is sort of like the Pulitzer of business media.
Now Hechler has to make room on his shelf for
another award: The American Society of Business Publication Editors’ Stephen Barr Award. It’s the organization’s highest honor, given to the writer “who best
exemplifies inventiveness, insight, balance and depth
of coverage,” according to the group. We’re proud of
David and the work he’s done. He reported intensely
for the story while managing to do his day job of editing much of the magazine and working closely with our
reporters and designers. Congratulations, Mr. Hechler.
THE HUMAN TOUCH