The Significance of Technobabble

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					Computer Counselor                                                                       BY BENJAMIN SOTELO AND GREGORY D. BRENNER

The Significance of Technobabble

MANY PEOPLE CONSIDER LEGALESE something used by lawyers in depository can hold scans of paper documents that have been
an effort to complicate things unnecessarily. Some argue that lawyers processed with optical character recognition (OCR) software, which
use legalese to confuse, impress, and even justify their salary. In fact, can translate the image of a written page into a text file. The depos-
legalese is a necessary part of legal practice used to keep concepts on itory’s large amount of data can also be grouped into categories
point. Ironically, many attorneys complain that computer jargon is such as correspondence, faxes, e-mail, voice recordings, and so on.
something used by computer experts in an effort to complicate things If the depository is large—and this is likely—it must have good rela-
unnecessarily. When attorneys pay as much for computer support as tional management. In technobabble, “relational” is short for “relat-
their clients do for legal services, they may be tempted to say that com- ing one item to another.”
puter engineers use technobabble to confuse, impress, and even jus-          In a document depository, a relational database can help draw the
tify their salary.                                                        connections between varied documents and the information they
    The legal and scientific communities have
long realized that Latin is useful because Latin
words have stopped evolving into other mean-
ings or slang. Technobabble, in stark contrast,
                                                         Take for instance the terms “data recovery” and “forensic data
is the creation of people who do not care about
Latin and may never have taken an English lit-
erature class. The result is that, unlike Latin,
                                                         discovery.” Both concern the same act—copying bytes of information
technobabble continues to evolve with techni-
cal advancements, marketing needs, or other fac-
tors. But like legalese, technical terminology
                                                         from storage devices—but the latter is specific to law office technology.
grants a particular term a particular meaning
within a specific industry.
    Take for instance the terms “data recovery” and “forensic data contain. A relational database even can provide control over the
discovery.” Both concern the same act—copying bytes of information entire case, including time and billing. When the relations among doc-
from storage devices—but the latter is specific to law office technol- uments and users are well managed, it is relatively easy to keep track
ogy. Forensic discovery requires a particular set of actions that will not only of names, terms, dates, amounts, and other evidentiary
ensure that data recovered is admissible in court. Data recovery does information but also of which user examined what and for how
not. Admissibility for electronically discovered information is main- long. A relational database can also help an attorney to do research
tained very differently than it is for paper. When the criteria for and cross-reference.
admissibility of electronic data change, so too will the meaning of the      A relational database is an electronic spreadsheet with columns
term “forensic data recovery.”                                            and rows that can be linked (or related). This matrix of columns, rows,
    No matter how electronic data is found, however, the goal in elec- and links allows for unlimited categorizing. The use of spreadsheet
tronic forensics is specific: Produce an exact copy of the original data software intended for simple bookkeeping for a relational database
so that the copy can be stored for long periods of time. Beyond this is a mistake because it does not allow for the development of the rela-
basic goal, it is usually also desired that a copy can be used again and tions that must be present for the best results. The connections
again, that it has an internal verification mechanism to prove that the between seemingly unconnected facts are best uncovered with rela-
copy is exact, that it does not introduce viruses, that it does not dam- tional databases, which allow for complex queries. Time lines, names,
age or corrupt the data, and that it captures unallocated space found types of documents, and legal issues can all be related. Even the
on the original storage device. According to the courts, these are the queries can be saved for attorneys to reuse as new data is discovered
most important steps in electronic discovery. Without an admissible and added to the depository.
copy, the data discovered will be valueless. The difference between          Another technobabble term of interest to lawyers is “war room.”
forensic discovery and data recovery is therefore significant. With this After electronic data has gone through forensic discovery, paper
example in mind, it is helpful to review some technobabble at the core documents have been processed with OCR software, and all the
of law office technology.                                                 data placed in a relational database, the next step is to have a place
    Document depositories, case management software, and extranets dedicated to the management of this trove of data. This place is the
are all important in managing the data that applies to a case. A doc- war room. A properly designed war room can help an attorney dis-
ument depository is the next step after forensic discovery, which
creates a body of information. Document depositories put all the gath- Benjamin Sotelo is president of Legal Friendly Technologies and can be
ered data into one place, to allow for searches for such items as names reached at Gregory D. Brenner practices
or dates. In addition to electronically discovered data, the document criminal defense in Beverly Hills.

                                                                                                         Los Angeles Lawyer October 2005 39
                                                                                                             cover that key piece of information upon
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                                                                                                             guiding principle of a war room is that the
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                                                                                                             cations rely on servers to access data depos-
                                                                                                             itories and present results to anyone with a
                                                                                                             password. The Internet is the entire Web; an
                                                                                                             extranet is a part of that Web that is as acces-
                                                                                                             sible as a Web page but is centrally managed
                                                                                                             and kept secure under some type of security
                                                                                                             regimen. Extranet programs allow users to
                                                                                                             access and manipulate data from anywhere.
                                                                                                             When users access their bank accounts on the
         THE PREMIER STEAKHOUSE                                                                              Internet, for example, they are using an
                                                                                                             extranet. The bank manages the data and
                  IN LOS ANGELES                                                                             provides secure access. An extranet requires
                                                                                                             that servers and technology stand behind the
                                                                                                             curtain of that easy-to-use Web page.
                                                                                                                 The utility of Web-based database man-
                                                                                                             agement is not limited to text documents.
                                                                                                             Depositions, for example, now typically gen-
                                                                                                             erate electronic records. Once upon a time,
                                                                                                             paralegals used word processors or spread-
                                                                                                             sheets to process depositions and prepare
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                                                                                                             them for cross referencing and case manage-
                                                                                                             ment software. This laborious task has been
       USDA PRIME EASTERN CORN-FED BEEF                                                                      streamlined. Another technobabble term,
                                                                                                             “live deposition digesting,” describes this
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                                                                                                             technology. With live deposition digesting,
                 x CUT BY OUR MASTER BUTCHER                                                                 cocounsel can sit in an office 8,000 miles
                 x GRILLED OVER MESQUITE CHARCOAL                                                            away and not only view the deposition in
                                                                                                             real time but also interact with any number
                                                                                                             of other people watching the deposition
       500 WINES ON OUR AWARD WINNING WINE LIST PRESENTED BY                                                 remotely, while flagging portions of the depo-
       OUR AWARD WINNING SOMMELIER                                                                           sition for later ease of retrieval.
                                                                                                                 Ultimately, relational database manage-
                                                                                                             ment operates in parallel with case manage-
                                                                                                             ment. Not only can an extranet allow scat-
                                                                                                             tered users access to the same data and help
       Complimentary shuttle service to Staples Center,                                                      keep track of billable hours, it can also be used
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                                                                                                             ware that simplified the war room can also be
                                                                                                             applied to trial presentation. The same data-
                                                                                                             base that allowed counsel to follow the money
                                                                                                             can generate 3-D animations and place images
                                                                                                             of documents and excerpts of video deposi-
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                                                                                                             pressure law firms to cut costs while employ-
                                                                                                             ing more and more tools, understanding the
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                                                                                                             interconnection between these technologies is
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                                                                                                             vital to a firm’s survival. For this reason, the
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                                                                                                             meaning of such supposedly obfuscatory
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                                                                                                             terms as “forensic data discovery,” “docu-
                                                                                                             ment depository,” “relational database,”
                                                                            “case management software,” and “extranet”
                                                                                                             should be crystal clear to a lawyer.            s

40 Los Angeles Lawyer October 2005

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