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Brett Burney of Burney Consultants and ediscoveryinfo [LexBlog Q & A]

March 12, 2008

TechShow attendees are already arriving in Chicago for the big event, which kicks off tomorrow. But before it does, we’ve got one final pre-TechShow LexBlog Q & A to offer up.

The guest of honor today is Brett Burney, e-discovery specialist and founder of Burney Consultants. In addition to his consulting work, Brett is also the author of the blog ediscoveryinfo.

He’ll be bringing his expertise to TechShow with the following panels


  • “Small Volume E-Discovery: One Hard Disk Could Make, or Break, Your Case”, with Todd Flaming (3/14, 2:15-3:15 p.m.)
  • “60 Tips in 60 Minutes,” with Barron Henley and Sharon Nelson (3/14, 4:15-5:15 p.m.)
  • “The Mobile Office: Take Your Desktop in Your Pocket”, with Dominic Jaar (3/15, 8:30-9:30 a.m.)

See the details of our chat with Brett – about what he looks forward to at TechShow and why you should attend “60 Tips in 60 Minutes” – after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: When it comes to proving yourself knowledgeable on e-discovery issues, do you see the blog as being important for your consulting business?

Brett Burney: Yes, definitely.

Number one, it helps to convince clients that I am staying abreast of the current topics and the important events in the marketplace. I think that always helps clients to have a little more a comfort level with who they’re talking to. Because a lot of times I’m talking to attorneys, and as much as you want to have them believe that you know what you’re talking about, they like to see proof. To me, the blog helps that.

Number two, it forces me to keep on top of the important issues. I don’t get a chance to blog as often as I wanted to when I first started, but when I see something big or an important trend going on, it forces me to focus my thoughts about that trend and put it into a blog post that I can [use to] get my word out. It’s more like a soapbox, which is what I think a blog should be.

The important thing, though, is that I’m finding I have to walk a fine line between what I can post as an independent consultant, and making sure that I don’t cross the line. For example, I would never blog on a current matter that I’m working on. But even some of the general topics that I might be talking about could potentially weave their way back to the client. So I just have to be cognizant about that. It doesn’t necessarily color what I do, because I’m an independent consultant, but it’s something that you have to keep in mind.

2. Rob La Gatta: From your experience working with lawyers at a large firm, do you think that they are – as an industry – utilizing new technology as much as they should be?

Brett Burney: Short answer? No. I feel like attorneys can certainly be trained on “click here to do this, click there to do that.” And they can certainly grow into a comfort level with using something like Word or Outlook. But what I like to try to do, even in my own consulting practice, is help lawyers try to better understand how to use technology to become even more productive or more efficient.

In other words, how does it fit in their workflow? Technology is just a tool; I’m not the first one to say that (a lot of my peers and people that I look up to in the legal technology industry say the same thing). If an attorney is already bad at time management, just simply going out and buying Abacus isn’t going to immediately make them better at time management or interacting with their clients. They have to understand where the real problem comes from, and fix it at its root level…then the technology can help them devise a better and new workflow.

It’s not just always about buying the latest and greatest technology, or the shiniest new gadget…it’s about helping the attorney understand where that gadget can help make them more productive. Because otherwise you’re just wasting money.

3. Rob La Gatta: Your panel, “60 Tips in 60 Minutes”: what is it? Why do you think it is one of TechShow’s best attended and highest rated panels each year?

Brett Burney: Well, there’s “60 Tips,” which is at the end on Friday. And then the show to end the show is  “60 Sites in 60 Minutes,” which is the last thing to happen on Saturday. Both of them are not to be missed.

I am very honored to be participating in “60 Tips.” I think the greatest thing about [these panels] is that you hit upon products, services and websites that most people just don’t come across in their normal mode of business.

The other thing I like about [these panels] is what I see from attendees that like to be there: they don’t have to sit through a long, boring presentation. We get to the point immediately…we literally have a tip a minute. You can really walk away with several good nuggets of information, whereas at a regular presentation you might have written down two or three little pieces of information that you caught in between your daydreaming.

4. Rob La Gatta: Are there any panels or panelists that you are particularly looking forward to seeing, or that you would recommend to other attendees?

Brett Burney: Personally, I am very excited about the Mac Track. I’ve written a couple of articles for an ABA magazine and for on using Macs in the practice of law. Through that I’ve gotten involved in the Mac-using legal area, and there are several great attorneys out there. Ben Stevens, who writes The Mac Lawyer, is a great speaker and shares a lot of good information about how he uses the Mac in all aspects of his family law practice in South Carolina.

Last year, I did the Taste of TechShow dinners, which is something that was started by Adriana and the planning board. I headed up the dinner that was for Mac using attorneys, and it was an awesome experience. I’m thrilled to see that TechShow is recognizing that, “Okay, not everyone uses Windows.” There’s a very small percentage of Mac users, but they are out there.

After the Mac Track, I’m more biased towards e-discovery stuff:

  • I never miss a presentation by Craig Ball;
  • Judge Herbert Dixon is on the planning board, and he is an excellent presenter…I was thrilled with him last year;
  • Browning Marean, who’s from DLA Piper;
  • and Judge John Facciola.

Then, [there are] two more panels I’m very excited about:

  • David Ries and John Simek, doing law firm data breach. I’ve been talking to David for a while as he’s been getting ready for that panel;
  • and Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell just wrote a new book on attorney collaboration. They’re launching [it] at TechShow and giving a presentation either late Friday or Saturday.

5. Rob La Gatta: Ultimately, what do you hope to come away from TechShow with?

Brett Burney: The best part for me is two-fold.

Number one, catching up with old friends in the industry (an industry that has been fantastic to me). And number two, interacting with attendees in a way that most other shows don’t allow you to do.

Obviously, where I’m coming from, I’m not going to hesitate to give my business card to somebody. But what I like about TechShow is that there’s always this kind of camaraderie, this sense of intermingling between the so-called experts and the attendees, who relish the opportunity to get more information or to learn more about the technology that they’re using. I just don’t get that any other conference that I go to.

Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:

Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.

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