USC presents documentary about rise of digital age within government, courts

A documentary detailing the shift from paper to digital data within the government and courts in the 2000s will have its first public showing Monday at the University of South Carolina.

“Decade of Discovery” is an hour-long film that covers the switch to electronic information gathering and the rise of the digital age in the legal practice from 2002 through 2012.

It follows Jason Baron, an e-discovery expert who sought to find a better way to search White House emails. The documentary also details the work of Richard Braman, a leader in legal education who fought for civil justice during the rise of digital documentation and electronic data.

As the founder and executive director of The Sedona Conference, a national nonprofit dedicated to the study of law and policy, Braman was a pioneer in the e-discovery movement and laid the foundation for changing the rules for electronically stored information in the legal profession. He died in June.

“If you want to understand how our paper world turned upside down such that attorneys must now understand and quickly master computer technology and electronically stored information implicated by the litigation in order to provide competent representation, come see the film. Our paper world has forever changed,” said Sarah Montgomery, senior litigation counsel for e-discovery at the Department of Justice.

The documentary also will focus on the Bernie Maddoff financial fraud case as well as the National Security Agency’s handling of metadata, information about how data is collected and formatted.

The film features U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, NYU law professor Arthur R. Miller and seven judges also offer perspective in the documentary.

“Lawyers must be competent to understand technology, and the history of how we got to the use of machine-learning technologies for record keeping and the practice of law is a story that every attorney should know,” said Elizabeth Chambliss, the USC law professor responsible for the film screening in South Carolina. “The deeper truth is that even with remarkable new technologies, attorneys still need to work together to find the facts. That’s what this film is really about.”

“Decade of Discovery” will be shown at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the School of Law auditorium. A panel discussion will follow from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. featuring Montgomery, South Carolina, circuit court judge Clifton Newman and John D. Martin, an attorney with Columbia headquartered law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.