‘Sing the Body Electric of E-Discovery’

Poetry and e-discovery are not as alien to each other as you might think. While poetry seeks to reflect aspects of life, e-discovery seeks to reveal aspects of life. But it takes someone with insight and experience to draw the parallels between the two — and to find them in a rather matter-of-fact court opinion.

That someone is Ralph Losey, whose latest blog post is titled, The Poetry of e-Discovery: People Not Only Make Mistakes, They Lie, Steal, Cheat and Fake. In the post, Losey reports on a recent decision of the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, Genworth Financial Wealth Management v. McMullan.

The otherwise-unremarkable case is made notable by what it reveals about human nature and the lengths to which some people will go to thwart discovery and then seek to cover their tracks. To paraphrase Mark Twain, this case had it all: lies, damned lies and computers tossed in the trash. Suffice to say that the judge characterized efforts to put forth a defense to the motion to compel as “utterly incredulous.”

For Losey, the case is a reminder that lawyers, like poets, “are constantly dealing with the dark side of human nature.” After finding parallels between the facts of the Genworth case and the words of such poets as Carl Sandburg and W.H. Auden, Losey suggests “a new genre of post-modern literature: e-discovery poetry.” He even provides an example written by one of his students, a witty little poem entitled, “Sanctions.”

Losey concludes by inviting readers to post their own poems of and about e-discovery. “I encourage my readers to write and leave here their own legal poems,” he writes. “I make this a general plea. Be brave and join with me. Have courage to sing the body electric of legal discovery.”

Never could Walt Whitman have imagined e-discovery — or e-discovery poetry.

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About Bob Ambrogi

Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. He held the top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal and Lawyers USA. A long-time advisor to Catalyst, Bob now divides his time between law practice and media consulting. He writes two blogs, LawSites and MediaLaw, co-authors Law.com's Legal Blog Watch, and co-hosts the weekly legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. A 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School, Bob is a life member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which honored him in 1994 with its President's Award.