Mastering Evidence through the Use of Technology: Avoiding Inadvertent Productions & Other Excel Blunders


Re-Broadcast on November 17, 2017

Inadvertent productions and other attorney missteps have been all over the news recently, and many of these incidents involve the use, or misuse, of Excel spreadsheets. In the most prominent episode, which was covered in the New York Times, outside counsel for Wells Fargo made an inadvertent disclosure of sensitive customer account information, including spreadsheets full of social security numbers. The news was a cautionary tale for any attorneys who handle sensitive client data in the discovery context.

In this engaging, interactive program, commercial litigator Ben Kusmin explains what makes Excel so tricky for practicing attorneys and what they can do to stay out of trouble. Ben uses real spreadsheets from publicly available sources to bring these key topics to life. Participants can download these files and follow along, or use them to hone their skills after the workshop. Ben also dissects several Excel-related inadvertent disclosures, using court documents to reverse-engineer what went wrong.

This course is co-sponsored by Wolters Kluwer.

Key topics to be discussed:

•   The importance of reviewing Excel files in native form rather than in Relativity
•   Learn to thoroughly review Excel files by identifying hidden content, filters, formulas, overflow text, and more
•   Understand what went wrong in three inadvertent disclosure incidents: Cleary/Lehman Brothers, Wells Fargo, and Madoff

Date / Time: November 17, 2017

•  2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern
•  1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central
•  12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Mountain
•  11:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

•  Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•  On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

All Access Pass: Before you buy, access this class and all other myLawCLE programs, over 120 new live classes every year, for only $69 dollars per month. Purchase the All Access Pass first. Click here for more information.


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Ben J. Kusmin, Esq. is the founder of Excel Esquire CLE and the Excel Esquire blog. He is a former engineer and a seasoned commercial litigator who has worked at several large New York City law firms. He is a veteran of epic privilege log battles, mammoth document reviews, complex redaction projects, dueling accounting experts, and all manner of discovery motion practice. At every turn Ben has exploited the finer points of Excel to stay one step ahead of his adversaries and keep his clients happy. He developed Excel Esquire to give other attorneys the skill and confidence they need to successfully navigate in Excel, and speaks regularly at law firms, public interest organizations, and bar associations.

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Section I. Prelude: Getting Native Excel Files & Reviewing Them Natively

a) How to stipulate to native production
b) Why you shouldn’t rely on Relativity to display Excel correctly

Section II. Tame the Tricky Features of Excel
By studying real Excel files, learn to recognize and review the most troublesome types of Excel content.

a) Exposing hidden rows, columns, and tabs
b) Finding and revealing overflow text
c) Understanding and using filters
d) Using the Inspect Document feature to flag unseen issues
e) Searching across multi-tab spreadsheets
f) Other Pain Points: Formulas, Comments, and more

Section III. Native Redactions in Excel
Learn several strategies for applying redactions in an Excel spreadsheet

a) Editing in Filter Mode
b) Create custom footers
c) Applying mass edits

Section IV. Case Studies: What Went Wrong
We’ll discuss the ins and outs of three legal Excel blunders by examining court documents and reconstructing what went wrong

a) The Wells Fargo lesson – detect social security numbers and hidden tabs
b) The Madoff lesson—expose hidden columns and other hidden content
c) The Cleary/Lehman Bros. lesson—understand filters and cell sizes