Metadata: Legal and Ethical Challenges

Avoiding Information Risks With Various File Types, Electronic Redactions, Location-Tracking, “The Cloud” and eDiscovery

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will prepare counsel to manage the ethical and malpractice risks of metadata. The panel will introduce the latest metadata threats and outline best practices for controlling and managing metadata and meeting related ethical and legal obligations.


Metadata lurks beneath the surface of every electronic document created or edited. Every computer application, platform or device generates metadata. The prevalence of E-communications and the ability to readily download any document electronically filed in federal court greatly magnifies the consequences of human error.

Whether or not litigators, members of all law departments, law firms and clients are susceptible to breaches of confidentiality and malpractice traps. Counsel can protect clients and their firms by avoiding common but critical mistakes involving track changes, pdf conversions, redaction and electronic discovery.

Counsel must plan and implement proper metadata and redaction procedures and tools to ensure they don't repeat well-publicized blunders such as those made by opposing counsel or co-counsel in complex litigation proceedings such as those involving Zynga.

Moreover, one of the many modern technological equivalents of loose lipslocation tracking, “The Cloud” and social-media—also generate metadata pitfalls for the unwary, such as the notorious communications between former CIA Director Petraeus and his biographer.

Listen as our authoritative panel offers clear guidance for attorneys, law firms and businesses to act immediately to understand, control and manage metadata when using track changes, pdf conversions and redaction—and avoid related malpractice exposure, ethics violations and public embarrassment.



  1. Day-to-day metadata issues for lawyers and others
    1. Definitions
    2. Demonstrations of file-system data and embedded data
    3. Track changes
    4. Mitigation—scrubbing/cleaning and mining via same software
    5. Redactions
  2. Newer, evolving threats
    1. The “Mobile Gap”—smartphones, tablets and email via web access
    2. Trails left by social media and webmail accounts, mobile devices and wi-fi networks
  3. Lawyer ethics as to inadvertent disclosures day-to-day and in litigation
  4. E-Discovery—exchange of client-created files in native format with metadata intact
    1. Overview of law as to preservation and discoverability
    2. Inadvertent privilege waivers, including the Fed R. Civ. Pro’s claw-back procedures and Fed. Rule of Evid. 502’s protections


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What can companies and counsel do to reduce or eliminate the risk of inadvertent disclosures, particularly when using track changes, converting to pdfs or redacting documents?
  • What ethical obligations does a practitioner have upon receipt from opposing counsel of documents that include revealing metadata?
  • How are state bars, bar associations and courts treating inadvertent disclosure of metadata?
  • What are the key legal and computer forensics issues that arise in eDiscovery when client-created files are exchanged in native formats?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Brownstone, Robert
Robert D. Brownstone

Technology & eDiscovery Counsel
Fenwick & West

Mr. Brownstone advises clients on information-security, data-privacy, electronic discovery, electronic information...  |  Read More

Perry L. Segal
Perry L. Segal

Charon Solutions

He is one of the most prominent voices in California on the intersection of law and technology. His specialties...  |  Read More

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