presentation of the 2011 Emmett Leahy Award

John Phillips, Emmett Leahy Award Committee Member

It's a pleasure to be here to speak with you today!


As you are aware, the Emmett Leahy Award Committee's goal is to recognize excellence in the professional fields related to Records and Information Management. We are here today to recognize the accomplishments of an individual that has made a singularly grand and broad contribution to the Records and Information Management professions.


The Profession of Records Management, or Records and Information Management as we often call it today, is in turmoil. Records Managers, their customers, IT professional, legal counsels, and executive management are all overwhelmed with the volume and variety of information management dilemmas facing us today. Business models change daily. E-mail, Office documents, Web pages, digital images and incentives to use remotely hosted cloud based architectures can put business records, evidence for court proceedings and historical treasures at grave risk. Records Management is becoming a challenge for everyone.


For these reasons, today's offices are confronted with changing professional responsibilities and expectations for RMs, IT, and Legal regarding litigation and compliance.  There is often talk about teaming between records creators, Records Managers, Archivists, IT and Legal to create solutions to these challenges. But, what we really needed was someone on the inside - a lawyer that really believed in what we were saying, understood both technologies and the law and could demonstrate it. Fortunately for all of us an individual has taken the lead and combined both intellectual understanding of these issues and the personal involvement in both litigation and information management professions to bring about numerous changes in the way we work and manage information.


This individual is widely known for his connection to numerous landmark federal court cases. In the 1990s, as lead attorney for the government in the PROFS case (Armstrong v. EOP), and the GRS 20 case (Public Citizen v. Carlin), he helped set new expectations regarding how email is managed in federal agencies, especially with respect to the importance of metadata captture and management. Then, after coming to NARA in 2000, he led a team of 25 archivists and lawyers that responded to the discovery demands in United States v. Phillip Morris, the lawsuit brought by the Clinton Justice Department against tobacco companies alleging violations of the RICO Act and other statutes.


This intense experience in having to search through tens of millions of White House emails led him to key insights regarding the limitations of keyword searching in fulfillment of legal discovery obligations.  Especially on the topic of search and retrieval, this individual has helped to found numerous activities that created information management insights regarding legal issues, and numerous publications. For example, his work with The Sedona Conference has included acting as Editor in Chief of a leading commentary on best practices in search and retrieval. He also helped found the TREC Legal Track for the National Institute of Standards and Technology Text Retrieval Conference. This is a unique international research project evaluating competing search methods used by lawyers. It has been widely considered to be of great value across several professions and disciplines.


He is also considered a leader in the legal profession in encouraging thinking about alternative search methods to improve efficiency in discovery. And his efforts are bearing fruit. Recent research shows that various forms of machine learning have been documented as outperforming manual document review by humans. In addition he founded an international series of workshops known as the "DESI Workshop Series" which stands for Discovery of Electronically Stored Information, in which academics from the fields of information science, computer science, and artificial intelligence, have gotten together with the representatives of the legal community to discuss ways for lawyers to improve searching for information in various litigation contexts.


This individual is also known for a number of "Firsts." This individual was first to deliver a presentation on the emerging law of metadata during a Managing Electronic Records Conference in 1996. He was the first DOJ attorney to spend 10,000+ hours litigating federal records act cases involving email, including assisting in crafting the first federal email regulations issued in 1995 by NARA. He was the first US lawyer who participated in InterPARES. He was (and still is) the first (and only) NARA Director of Litigation. He is the first lawyer to teach e-discovery at a graduate program in information studies in the U.S. He was the first federal lawyer to Co-Chair The Sedona Conference working group on electronic document retention and production. He was probably the first federal lawyer to have created a Youtube movie on e-discovery and... he is the first federal government lawyer to be awarded the Emmett Leahy Award.


As many of you are aware, the individual that I am talking about is - Jason R. Baron. Jason has been widely respected as a unique leader in the field of Records and Information Management for decades. He has brought his extensive knowledge and experience in records management and e-discovery issues, to help establish best practices, to set legal precedents, and to educate the legal and records management professions on important issues regarding the preservation of and access to information and records in electronic form. He has accomplished this through a career of scholarship and lecturing throughout the U.S. and the world, while also acting as a federal attorney working at the National Archives, as a leader in The Sedona Conference, and as an educator at several Universities.  In all these capacities he is looked upon as a thought leader in the legal and the records management professions.


For all these reasons, Jason Baron is very deserving of the Emmett Leahy Award that celebrates the professional achievements and international admiration he has earned. So I would like to introduce to you - Jason R. Baron.