Coronavirus Impact on States that Shelter at Home

President and CEO of Enigma Forensics, Lee Neubecker remotely converses with Geary Sikich, President of Logical Management Systems, to discuss the current state of impacts the Coronavirus has brought to citizens taking shelter at home. Data experts Lee and Geary explain statistics state by state and expose interesting facts for those states that have implemented shelter at home policies.

The Transcript of the Video Follows.

Lee Neubecker: I am here today, again with Geary Sikich, reporting from my basement. Geary is the principal of logical management systems. I am the president of Enigma Forensics. We’ve been talking on our show previously about the Coronavirus and the impact. And today we’re going to be talking a little bit about the current data trends and what’s happening. Geary thanks for being on the show remotely.

Geary Sikich: Thanks Lee it’s kind of an interesting way to work.

LN: It’s the new reality probably for a while, huh?

GS: I think for, yes, a little bit more than two weeks that’s for sure.

LN: Yeah, so I want to pull up some of the data that we were talking about earlier. A spreadsheet that we had here. Is that up on the screen for ya?

GS: Yes.

LN: Okay, great. So it’s showing that, this is data that was obtained from the John Hopkins website. They’ve got a place where you can download the historical data. Which I showed you a little earlier. Let me just pull that up. So what you see here, you can go on the map tool. You can actually scroll by clicking on the tab. Internet’s running a little slow. We discussed that previously.

GS: Welcome to the world of not enough pipe.

LN: Yeah so you might not have noticed it but there’s a little section that says admin one. If you hit the right arrows you can scroll through and cycle through and see the data reported differently. First it’s by country, and we’re now at 41,708 in the US. When you click, you can see the total. It’s running very slow today.

GS: Yeah John Hopkins, I know that one of the issues with their website is so many people are using it. That it, by this time of day it starts to slow down a bit. So it’s kind of a challenge to get in there and see the data as it stands. But I just noticed on the statistics for today, that the US stats at noon, when I checked I was doing a webinar today on hospital pandemic planning and drills. And US infection rate has jumped up pretty substantially.

LN: Yeah I want to show you some specifics of concerns as we drill down. I pulled the top 10 states And you can click here, you can see by states and regions. You can see New York is getting devastated right now. Then Washington, and then Cook County Illinois here is running right up next in line. But what I found interesting is as you pull the historical data out, but you can get off, we can see, here is New York. That’s a pretty scary curve, and it’s a trajectory that doesn’t suggest it’s going to get any better any time soon. And then you have Illinois, New Jersey, and what not. But what was real interesting is we had a cross. Illinois is this line right here on the screen there. Illinois is, where is Illinois here. We got, actually what I did is I pulled out New York so I could get more zoned. So excluding New York, you can now see what’s going on. And Michigan, that didn’t have a band until they just announced today that they’re instituting a lockdown. But Illinois, more dense, more likely to get a contagious outbreak than Michigan in my opinion. Because they quarantined early enough, you start to see that at least so far Illinois holding out. Now I think that number’s going to jump up. I think that the number, they haven’t fully reported the count for today yet. But it was interesting to see both Louisiana and Michigan and Florida jump up and surpass. And right now, Florida doesn’t have a ban in place. Georgia doesn’t have a ban in place. What do you think’s going to happen with Georgia?

GS: Well I think what your statistics are showing, and it’s interesting is that the early adopters of shelter in place and working remotely, etcetera, cut the bands, if you will. The early adopters of that are finding that social distancing is actually working. The late adopters who have yet to come to the point of doing shelter in place and what not are finding much like the parallel with Philadelphia and Denver during the Spanish Influenza, Denver closed the city very quickly, very little in terms of issues that they had. Philadelphia on the other hand kept everything open and actually did a parade to try to raise money for bombs for World War One. And as a result they had a significantly higher infection rate. And so I think you’re seeing a parallel in terms of history and what’s happening today. So I would say that those states that are late adopters are probably going to see a higher rate of infection. The other thing it would be, is if we can, you’d have to do some manipulation on data with this but is to look at those states which have large cities. Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles. Some of the bigger cities are going to have a significantly bigger concentration of casualties, if you will. That is going to result, it results from the fact that people are living in close proximity in those cities. The other aspect is that, if you think about it, a lot of downtown populations don’t have the, how do I put it, the infrastructure to do a lot of at home cooking. So it’s either they don’t have the storage facilities for food or they just don’t cook because restaurants are so plentiful. And suddenly we’re finding that with restaurants closed and other things being shut down, as far as businesses and what not, that there’s a greater dependence for people to be a little bit more self-sufficient, if you will.

LN: Yep, it’s certainly going to get interesting here. Well, thanks for coming on the show again and talking about this. I’m sure we’ll have some more things to talk about again soon.

GS: Thank you for having me.

LN: Great, thanks.

Other Related Videos

View John Hopkins Coronavirus Map

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

View CDC Guidelines

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#anchor_1584386949645

View State of Illinois Website

https://www2.illinois.gov/

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Data Breach Response After the Fact

Your email has been frozen and your company website is down. Your IT department has confirmed a data breach. What do you do next? Incident Expert Lee Neubecker and legal expert Kari Rollins offer easy instructions about your next important steps.

It’s a fact! Your IT team confirmed a Data Breach or incident has occurred. What do you do after the fact? Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and Legal Expert Kari Rollins say don’t panic! First, convene with your incident response team, start to investigate under privilege and contact a 3rd Party forensic expert to help preserve vital information. Watch the rest of this video for further recommendations about data breach response after the fact!

View Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

The Video Transcripts of Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach follows

Lee Neubecker: Hi I’m back again with Kari Rollins, and she’s here talking with me today about data breach incident response. The Sedona Conference recommends, how an organization should respond to such incidents. And we’re talking in this third part segment about what to do after an incident has been reported. So Kari, please tell me what the initial issues are that come to mind when you get that phone call from a client that says something happened.

Kari Rollins: Sure, so usually, as we were talking about in a prior segment, you may not know whether you’ve had a breach as defined by law. You are just told by your information’s security team, or an employee or a manager that you’ve had, there’s been an attack. Or there’s been, “I can’t get access to my email,” Or, “My account’s frozen.” So you immediately start to investigate. You want your.. according to your incident response plan which we’ll hopefully have in place, you’ll convene your incident response team; you’ll start to investigate under privilege. You’ll call if you need your outside forensic investigator to help you access it. Help you access what’s happened, right? That the facts in an incident are really, really important because they drive the legal conclusions. Have you had a breach, or have you had an incident that has resulted in the acquisition with just the access to personally protected information? Or are you.. did you have an incident where maybe the systems that house the personal information were accessed, but there’s no evidence that the malware ever made it into the room where the family jewels are hidden and they were taken out. And that’s an important part of understanding whether you actually have a legal obligation to notify regulatory authorities or consumers. So the first step is always convening the team, putting it under privilege, calling your experts, and starting to investigate the important facts. Was this an outside threat, was it an insider threat? I know you’ve had experience a lot with investigating internal threats, which are on the rise these days as I would expect.

LN: And a lot of these incidents, it may be reported as a data breach, and the question is well, how did it happen? And sometimes, it’s not too uncommon that IT staff don’t receive the resources they request, and that data incidents happen as a result of being under-resourced. And in circumstances like that, there’s still a lot of pressure on the people managing IT, to not only run the organization ongoing but to deal with this whole new layer of troubles. So having that team in place beforehand where those relationships are there really helps.

KR: Yes

LN: And the other thing too is, you know, if there is a failure internally, it’s more difficult and less likely that you’re going to get the facts quickly if you’re using the team responsible in some way for the breach to report on what happened. I always recommend that after that initial meeting that preservation of key data occurs, and is offloaded outside the organization. You know, log files, certain key computers, email systems to the extent that they were modified so that there’s the ability to do that analysis. Because when an organization has an incident, it’s quite possible that all the data disappears, and the effort to cover the tracks.

KR: Or it’s not even, it may not be as nefarious as that. It could be that the teams are working so quickly a lot of the remediation plans are to thwart the malware and to remove it. But, in a lot of instances, you need to safely remove it and keep a copy of it, because you need to reverse engineer it. And understand how it got there, understand other signatures it might have; so being thoughtful, and we talk about this being thoughtful about evidence preservation is really critical, especially if you get to the point at which you do have a breach that requires notification. And litigation regulatory inquiry ensues, you will have been expected to preserve that evidence and show the chain of custody. Otherwise, you could have allegations of spoliation leveled against your company.

LN: And I’ve seen circumstances too where a legitimate data incident happens and we’re able to get it quickly and identify the impacted individuals. And sometimes it’s just been a few people; in a circumstance like that, it’s much easier to reach out to those individuals, make things right, and resolve the issue. And be able to report to them what happened. It’s much better than having to publish on your website and report to the attorney general that you had some massive data breach. So, not all data incidences are massive data breaches.

KR: That’s true, some of ’em impact you know, one or two individuals, and you may still have an obligation to notify them under the relevant law. But they don’t have to be the big massive breaches. And again, I think the great thing about the Sedona Conference Guide is that it’s, you know, it helps companies navigate small to big breaches. You know, it’s not intended to be the ultimate authority on the law in this area, because the law is ever-changing. But what it does is it helps companies issue spot from a practical perspective so that they know what laws they need to consult, and why and what issues they need to address, like for example, notifying your insurance carrier. One of the big questions we always get is, Well, we’re the victims, here; the company X is a victim of this cyber attack. Who’s going to pay for it?

LN: Yes.

KR: And so, insurance coverage for cyber incidents has is a really hot button issue these days. And so it’s important for companies to know in advance what their policies say, what the notification requirements are. Even if they just have a sniff of an incident – maybe it’s not a breach. So that the third party and first-party costs are covered, and that you’re working with your insurance carrier, and you’re working with your insurance council to ensure that coverage. And to make sure that you’re getting the right information to your insurance carrier about your forensic teams. Are they approved? What rate are they going to be reimbursed? What type of reporting do you have to do from a cost an expense perspective to your insurance carrier? So.

LN: And, it true that if companies use their own internal IT resources to do the investigation, that the insurance carriers usually won’t pay out their own internal resources?

KR: It really depends. It depends on the policy.

KR: It really depends on the policy. There are, in some instances, some policies would cover the first party staffing costs, so for example, if you had to pay staff overtime to work 24 hours a day to try and investigate, you may be able to claim that. But it really depends on your policy. There’s certain.. there’s certainly reimbursement line items for business disruption and business interruption. Or, you know the loss of business, loss profits line items, as a result of ransomware tax. But again, knowing your policy is a critical step in preparing.

LN: Where do you see the benefits of using an outside forensic investigator as opposed to internal IT to investigate when an incident happens?

KR: You know I think it’s two-fold, one, a lot of internal IT teams are taxed as it is with their day to day obligations. And if an incident is one that is medium-high critical, you want to be able to dedicate the resources to the incident to investigate swiftly, and to ensure that there’s no delay. And so pulling in a third-party forensic expert alleviates some of that burden and stress on the IT teams. And then separately and secondly, it also creates a level of objectivity that is.. that benefits the company in the event. Or in the unfortunate event, someone in the IT group may have made a mistake that caused the vulnerability. There’s less likely that that mistake would be covered up. Or there’s going to be more candor from the third party expert, the to management team say like, “Hey, this issue should have been addressed”. And it wasn’t, and now you know what thwarts may be in the event. You have some litigation down the road and you need to defend. But so I would say really sort of time and devotion of resources where needed, and objectivity.

LN: Great, well thanks a bunch for being on this show; this was great.

KR: Absolutely, thank you.

Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

Part 1 of our 3-Part Series

Part 2 0f our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series
Data Breach Incident

To Learn More About Sheppard Mullin / Kari Rollins

https://www.sheppardmullin.com/krollins

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Debt Forgiveness with Jacob Meister

“Wipe out court debt!” says Jacob Meister, candidate for the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court. He has a plan to ease the crushing burden of fines, fees, and forfeitures. Check out this video to learn more about his solutions.

Debt forgiveness is now one of the most popular presidential campaign promises but what does it mean on the local level. What does debt forgiveness mean for the City of Chicago taxpayers?

Enigma Forensics President & CEO Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, who is running for the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Lee is interested to learn more about what are Jacob’s plans regarding debt forgiveness.

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Jacob Meister

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jacob Meister back to my show, Jacob thanks for coming.

Jacob Meister: Well, thank you for having me Lee.

LN: Jacob’s running for Cook County Clerk of the court. And we’re going to talk today a little bit about some things that have been trending in the news related to debt forgiveness. From the federal student loan debt, there have been talks about wiping out the debt owned, lots of people are concerned over medical-related debt. But now there’s been some, some calls by one of the candidates running, requesting that we just wipe away the Quartet. And I wanted to get your feedback on what the problem is there, and what do you think the solution is?

JM: Well, for years, I have been an advocate for easing the burden with court fees that are charged to litigants, fines, and forfeitures that go through the clerk’s office. The clerk is required to collect fines, fees, and forfeitures that are implemented usually by statute, or by sometimes by the court rules themselves. But what we see is a tremendous economic cost and social injustice that’s done. So just imagine you’re a single mother who’s been evicted from your apartment or your home. And you in order, you get a summons from the sheriff saying you must appear or you’re going to get a default judgment entered against you. But first, you have to file an appearance and pay a fee. It’s going to be $250 to defend yourself. And if you don’t, you’re going to get defaulted. And this is a crushing burden, you know, single mother, and it can affect that anybody who’s battling an addiction, be it child custody, it could be dealing with a divorce, it could be dealing with any number of things. We need to stop placing a crushing burden on the users of the court systems and make up a system that’s available to everyone.

LN: But who decides what that fee is?

JM: that with that state legislator, and that’s the Supreme Court, and the county board. some of those fees go there too. We have to stop squeezing court users to pay these fees and start paying for it in other ways. But in any event, I have been a supporter of for instance, when people get fines if you have a fine, you know, you would support and post fine and some people can’t pay it and it becomes this burden and you get trapped and sometimes you get imprisoned. Because you can’t pay these fines that you’ve been ordered to by the court. One of the things that we that I worked on in Springfield and we need to expand is allowing people to get credit for community service so that they have if they can’t afford to pay the fines, they have a way that they can provide community service and reduce that fine over time. We have to come up we have to be better about how we handle these things. We know, we have to stop taking away people’s drivers licenses, because they can’t pay their fines because that puts them in a cycle of debt that they can never get out of, because all of a sudden, they can’t drive themselves to work, they lose their jobs.

LN: They can’t get a new job,

JM: they can’t get a new job. Exactly. So we need to ease the burden there. I will continue to work with the folks in Springfield, with the folks in Cook County government, and with the courts. I’ve got very good relations there, And I will work to make sure that social justice is being achieved, and that we’re not putting people in a vicious downward spiral of debt.

LN: So some of the efficiencies you talked about earlier about making the court more efficient. Some of those efficiencies might help to pay for some of this relief on some of the oppressed people that are really being trapped in a cycle.

JM: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s the goal is to make sure that our courts are accessible to everyone, that we’re doing justice, and that we’re achieving social justice. We’re not just trapping People in a court system and in burdensome debt.

LN: Well, thanks for being on the show again.

JM: Well, thank you for having me, Lee.

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Candidate

View Jacob Meister’s website

htttp://jacobforclerk.com

To View Internal Related Articles

View Government Debt Forgiveness Programs

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/fin/supp_info/debt_relief_faqs.html

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Prepare for a Data Breach

Don’t fail to prepare for a data breach! Check out what experts Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins say are the three strategies to prepare for a data breach.

In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins with Sheppard Mullin agree with our Founding Father and warn that a data breach is inevitable, don’t fail to be prepared!

In her practice, Kari focuses on data privacy, data security and data breach preparedness. Together, they discuss two basic strategies to help you prepare for a data breach; understanding what data you have, where that data resides. Check out our video with transcripts to learn more on how to prepare for a data breach.

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

The Video Transcripts of How to Prepare for a Data Breach Follows

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I’m back on the show again with Kari Rollins. Thanks for coming back again.

Kari Rollins: Thank you.

LN: We’re continuing our discussion about the Sedona Conference Data Incident Response Guide and some of the best practices of how to prepare for the inevitable data breach and what you should be doing beforehand. So Kari, can you tell me what some of the things are that you advise your clients to do in anticipation of a potential issue?

KR: Sure, and I think planning, in our view, is just as important as the actual response itself and how you investigate. And in the Sedona Response Guide, we’ve pulled together some suggestions for sort of two elements of planning. One is the more technical, understanding what data you have, where that data resides, what your network systems are so that when you do have an incident, and you have to understand what information may have been impacted, to understand whether you have a legal obligation to notify, you have a better understanding and a better map of what those systems are and the information they hold. And a lot of times, using not just counsel and conducting that analysis, but using third party forensic firms to come in and help with that data mapping process is a really important step in getting prepared to understand where are all of the jewels of the company lying within the systems to know what the type of critical impact could be if one of those systems is hit.

LN: And some of the problems I’ve seen is, oftentimes the documents that are distributed and given to legally become outdated, so this is something really that organizations should be periodically updating their network data map and actually using either consultants or tools to help them map out what devices exist on their network.

KR: Right, exactly. And to that point, too, understanding what contracts with those vendors control here. Especially in the event, you have an incident that impacts the system that is managed by a vendor, do you know what information is being controlled by that vendor, and how you all are going to liaise when that incident occurs, who’s going to take control, what the contractual obligations are? Because vendor management is a hot-button issue these days. The FCC itself just came down with a number of guidelines and best practices for vendor management, so being prepared in that sense, knowing where your data is, who your vendors are, who controls it is really important.

LN: Exactly, and I can’t stress enough, it’s important, too, that companies have offline backups of their data because if you have a storage mass go down suddenly, if your company doesn’t have offline documents that describe what the drive geometry for that raid array is, the ability to recover the data becomes compromised and if a hacker gets in and takes out a storage network and the documentation for how to rebuild that storage network is on that drive, that could cause a real problem.

KR: Absolutely.

LN: Do you see that this guide is applicable to companies that are concerned about cryptolocker type malware as well?

KR: Sure, I think this Incident Response Guide can help guide companies through any type of incident, whether it’s a ransomware attack, where their information is being withheld from them, whether for ransom or for other purposes, it could just be useful in investigating the so often seen phishing attacks that seek to attack the email accounts of employees and then further perpetrate other credential harvesting schemes. So it’s useful in the sense that it helps companies prepare for any of those types of attacks. And it does so by helping them with the data mapping, giving them some guidelines on that front. And then also helping them to craft an incident response plan, which I think it’s just as you were talking about, being prepared here with an incident response plan is also the other critical component of preparation and it’s not a one-size-fits-all for the companies. You can’t just, there aren’t these stock-standard off-the-shelf policies that you can then apply because each company has different data systems, and different requirements, and different teams. But this guide provides you with resources and guideposts for how you build that plan that makes sense in the context of your company.

LN: Exactly, and depending on where the company operates, if they operate in Illinois, they might be subject to BIPA, the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act, which has a whole host of unique requirements. So in our next segment, we’ll be talking more about what should be done after a data incident arises. Just because it’s an incident, does not mean it’s a data breach, but there are certain things you want to do, like have your team in place beforehand. But before we leave, what are your recommendations and what does Sedona say about forming a team to be able to respond in advance of an incident?

KR: I think that is probably one of the most critical elements of an incident response plan is really just knowing who your team is going to be. Who are the individuals that you are going to call when an incident occurs and building that team, it’s important to have the right buy-in? Legal, of course, is extremely important because you want to be able to conduct the investigation under privilege, and in a fashion that gets the facts to your legal counsel in a timely and expedient manner so that you can understand the point at which you have information that suggests you’ve had a breach as defined by law. Because the point at which you learn you’ve had a breach is defined by law as to when your clock starts ticking for notification and that’s in some jurisdictions, that’s a really tight turnaround. So in the incident response plan, in the Sedona Conference Instant Response Guide, we talk about having that team. Having the information security teams, knowing who your third-party experts are going to be if you need third party support to come in and investigate, knowing who your crisis management team from a PR perspective would be. So having all of those individuals listed, with the contact information in the back of your plan so you know who to call, sort of the Ghostbusters, but the privacy busters of an incident, who are you going to call when you get an incident. So I think that’s most important because having the right people mobilized is going to save you time in the end.

LN: It’s important, too, that especially with your forensic experts, you want to make sure you’re working with experienced people that understand the sensitivity around email because as you investigate incidents, your initial impression of what happened or what is going on might change as you learn new information, so it’s important not to begin with the word data breach when you don’t know if it’s a true data breach. Because sometimes, an organization has a security incident but there’s no proof that any data actually exfiltrated or that it was used in any way, so that’s part of at least during that response that we’ll talk about next, those are part of the issues that need to be investigated, but being sensitive to that and making sure that privilege is in place and communications is definitely important.

KR: Yeah, exactly.

LN: Well, thanks and tune in to our next segment where we talk about what to do after the inevitable data breach.

KR: Right.

View Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Data Breach

Related Articles on How to Prepare for a Data Breach

Prepare for a Data Breach, Secure Your Supply Chain

Learn More About How to Prepare for a Data Breach. Check out Kari Rollins

https://www.sheppardmullin.com/krollins

More About Sedona Conference Data Breach Guide

https://thesedonaconference.org/search/node/data%20breach%20guide

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Jacob Meister’s First 90 Days

Most voters think the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government. Candidate Jacob Meister vows to clean up the office and deliver much needed ethical reform.

Enigma Forensics President & CEO Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, who is running for the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Lee is interested to learn more about what Jacob Meister plans to do in his first 90 days in office.

View Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister, Candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Candidate Jacob Meister

The Video Transcript follows

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jacob Meister, who’s running for Cook County Clerk of the Court. He’s back on my show today. Jacob, thanks for coming back on.

Jacob Meister: Thank you for having me.

LN: So, as a candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Court, which is one of the largest court systems in the U.S., what do you see as your top priority in your first 90 days in terms of fixing a big problem that needs to be addressed?

JM: Well, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government, you know? The voters in recent years have elected a new Cook County Assessor, Fritz Kaegi, a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and have made clear that they demand ethical reform, in government, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court is ground zero of what needs to be fixed. This is an office that for decades and decades has been plagued with political patronage, political workers getting jobs at the public expense in order to do political work. We have to stop that, and in my first months in office, I want to make sure that we are cleaning up the office to make sure that we are delivering taxpayers value for their money and that employees are dedicated first, foremost and exclusively to serving the public interest in the clerk’s office. We cannot get over the operational problems that this office has until we first clean up the ethical issues. So, I want to make sure that the patronage in the office comes to an end. That we comply, there’s currently a federal decree, it’s called the Shakman Decree, that the office is under that requires patronage to hiring, to not be done by patronage. I want to make sure that people are promoted from within, not given these political jobs where employees are beholden to the party machine.

LN: Great, well, thanks for being on the show, Jacob.

JM: Thank you, Lee.

View Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Candidate Jacob Meister

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Steps Employers Should do Before Using Biometrics

More and more employers are using biometrics. Biometric information and is covered by the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act or BIPA. Forensic expert Lee Neubecker and Vedder Price Shareholder David Rownd talk about the steps employers need to take so they don’t violate BIPA.

Employers Using Biometrics

What should employers do before collecting biometric information? Biometrics is on the cutting edge of technology and more and more employers are using biometrics in the workplace. Employers use biometrics to activate machinery or computer devices, to track employee time and attendance, and can be used to gain access to specific secured environments. The most common example of employer use of a biometric recognition system is the fingerprint.

Expert Lee Neubecker and Vedder Price Shareholder David Rownd discuss the necessary steps that all employers should do before installing biometrics.

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Data

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Information

The Video Transcript Follows.

Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I’m here again with David Rownd. David, thanks for being back on the show.

David Rownd (DR): Oh, thanks for having me again.

LN: So we are continuing our series talking about BIPA, the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act. And what employers should do, especially those New York employers that have satellite offices in Chicago that track their employees and whatnot and how they should, things they might want to do beforehand so that they don’t get into trouble. With that David, what are some of the concerns and responsibilities employers have under BIPA?

DR: Well, first of all, they have an obligation to notify employees that they are using biometric information. And they have to tell them why they are using biometric information. They have to safeguard the information. They have to have policies in place to safeguard the information. And they are absolutely prohibited from selling the information to third parties.

LN: That would mean if they are using time tracking software they might want to check to see what adaptations those software companies have in terms of how they protect employees’ fingerprints and whatnot.

DR: Absolutely.

LN: And is it a good idea for the employer to actually get the employee to sign a consent form?

DR: Absolutely. In fact, they are required to obtain consent

LN: Okay

DR: before doing this. And this is an important consideration for employers and it should be something that is well thought out and a program put into place that complies with the law before embarking on the use of biometric information.

LN: So employers if you have a trading firm here in New York that has a satellite trading, possibly an option firm, options are big in Chicago. What would you advise them to do just to do a check-up to make sure they are OK?

DR: Well, if you are going to be using your employee’s biometric information in Illinois it would be covered by BIPA. And you need to make sure you are in compliance with the law. And I think it makes sense for your in-house legal team or whatever counsel you rely on to go over what you planned to do and ensure that what you are going to be doing is in compliance with the law.

LN: So I think the intent though of a lot of these tracking features of time tracking software really is to try to protect employees from punching in for, you know, their friend that is running late. But there are other ways that employers can still do that without relying on fingerprints or retina scans.

DR: There are other ways. Smartphones can be used and they can be used without taking any biometric information. And there are other ways of doing it as well. But if you are going to be using biometric information, you certainly should make sure that you are in compliance with BIPA because it’s been a very active, very buried in litigation. There’s been a lot of class actions lately and a lot of companies have had some issues. Most employers would be well advised to make sure they don’t run afoul of the law.

LN: So why are we suddenly hearing so much about BIPA in Illinois? What happened last year that changed things?

DR: Well, there was an Illinois Supreme Court case that really kind of open the floodgates for plaintiffs to be able to sue. Normally in order to bring a lawsuit, you have to be able to show that you suffered some specific harm which is referred to in the law as damages, and that is an element of most civil causes of action. However, under the way, BIPA is written an aggrieved party can bring a private right of action under BIPA. And there’s the Illinois Supreme Court, a case called Rosenbach, last year, basically held that the mere violation of the law with the respect to someone’s biometric information makes that person an aggrieved party. So, the fact that your biometric information has come out of compliance in a program means you’d have the standing to bring a lawsuit. And more importantly, that you could potentially be the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit which ups the ante significantly for employers and exposes them to much more significant liability.

LN: So this could expose any employer using time tracking that has a biometric component in Illinois?

DR: Potentially, yes.

LN: Now are there things that can help protect those employers though from getting in the crosshairs if they are using that software?

DR: Well, I mean, ensuring that you’re in compliance with the law, certainly. Which means making sure you’re getting consent. Making sure that the concent is informed consent and the consent is in full compliance with the requirements of BIPA. Not doing anything that BIPA prohibits such as selling the information to third parties. It sounds pretty obvious but it’s something that’s important to make sure you’re in compliance with the law.

LN: Now there was a case in Illinois involving, it was an athletic gym that had customer information and some of that information was alleged to have gone to outside parties. And I think that case settled, but it certainly not only employers could fall into the snare of BIPA, but consumers as well, people who do business with companies that choose to take their biometric data.

DR: Absolutely

LN: Like possibly even Google and Facebook.

DR: Potentially, yes.

LN: Well, thanks a bunch. In our next segment, we’ll talk a little bit more about what is happening nationally with BIPA. And thanks again for being on the show.

DR: Thanks for having me.

View Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Information

Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Information

View Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Information

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on Biometric Information

Other Related Articles

View Vedder Price – David Rownd

https://www.vedderprice.com/david-rownd

To learn more about BIPA

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=3004&ChapterID=57

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How ZyLAB Can Help Your Company

ZyLAB is a global company that can help an organization who has to deal with various regulatory authorities spanning the globe. They are dual-headquartered in both Washington, D.C. as well as Amsterdam in the Netherlands. If your dealing with GDPR in the EU or CCPA in the US ZyLAB is equipped to provide service. In this video blog Lee Neubecker and ZyLAB’s Jeffrey Wolff discuss what differentiates them from their competitors.

Cyber Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and ZyLAB’s eDiscovery Director Jeffrey Wolff discusses how ZyLAB Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions can help your company. ZyLAB is an eDiscovery provider that works with government entities, corporations and law firms to provide data solutions. ZyLAB assists in extracting value from data, and not just metadata, but also document review that is about looking for entity information. ZyLAB is able to search for key people, places, and organizations that are mentioned in documents and/or emails, and quickly drill down to what is going on in your organization.

Watch this important final part of our 3-Part Series on Artificial Intelligence Solutions and eDiscovery. You will learn about what ZyLAB offers that will help your company with document review and ultimately save time and money.

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions and eDiscovery

The Video Transcript Follows.

Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I have Jeff Wolff, back on the show from ZyLAB. Jeff, thanks for coming back on.

Jeff Wolff (JW): Thank you.

LN: He’s their Director of eDiscovery, and I wanted to ask him some questions as it related to what differentiates ZyLAB from other products out on the market. Some of my clients may want to use this type of artificial intelligence program to help get through their review and see what the results are of using AI versus the traditional e-discovery review process, so.

JW: Sure.

LN: Jeff, could you tell us what sets ZyLAB apart from other competitors in the marketplace.

JW: Sure, sure, so first, I think ZyLAB is uniquely positioned in the fact we understand the corporate space quite well, as well as the law firm space, but we got our start in the corporate world, or in information governance. So we are very vested in search and data science, and that’s really where we’ve put a lot of our focus. We have both on-premise solutions, as well as cloud-based, SaaS solutions like every other next-gen provider. But we really push our interface, our user interface and our user experience, as one of the most unique selling points. And that is, that it is not difficult to start using. Anyone, any legal professional can pick up our product in an hour, from start to finish, and understand really how you utilize it. Drag and drop interfaces for getting data into the system, and immediate color-coding and tagging, easy search, and the ability to really visualize your data and understand what’s in the dataset.

LN: Okay. So, what would you say for a company that has to deal with multiple jurisdictions, they’re in Europe, they’re in the US.

JW: Sure.

LN: There are some unique challenges posed by all the various regulations out there, like GDPR.

JW: Right.

LN: Maybe the have operations in China. How could you help a company that has to deal with various regulatory authorities spanning the globe?

JW: Sure, and that’s another advantage that ZyLAB has, actually, we’re actually a global company, so we’re dual-headquartered in Washington, D.C., here in the US, as well as Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in the EU. And as a result, we have cloud operations in both jurisdictions. So our global customers can actually keep US data in the US, and they can keep European Union in the EU, and not worry about that issue. But we also have the expertise, consulting expertise, in both environments, both geographic locations. For example, I’m doing a lot of work now with corporations, not so much focused on directly just on e-discovery, because e-discovery is a bit reactive, you know? Or corporations go through peaks and valleys with e-discovery, the litigation, something they have it, sometimes they don’t. What they constantly have though, are internal investigations, regulatory responses, in the highly regulated corporations. And more and more now, data privacy concerns. So, my European colleagues have been dealing with GDPR for a while, we’re now starting to feel it here in the US, with CCPA, the California Consumer Privacy Act. And there are a number of states on the horizon that are going to California’s examples, so corporations need to be able to find, and classify all the data that they have in their organization that has customer information because if those customers request it and they can’t provide it, they’re financially in a lot of trouble.

LN: Do you think that the regulations coming down on companies are going to fundamentally change how companies chose to communicate with their vendors, suppliers, and own employees?

JW: Absolutely. If you look at all the recent data breach situations, it’s typically not the organization that has the problem, and I won’t mention any of the large companies that have recently had data breaches, but it’s typically not the original company that had the issue, it’s one of their suppliers, or one of their vendors that had accesses to the database, and wasn’t protecting it properly, and that’s how the trouble began.

LN: Yeah.

JW: Same thing with data privacy.

LN: The supply chain certainly is a huge point of vulnerability for all types of organizations. The governments, the military.

JW: Yep.

LN: and even corporations.

JW: Yes.

LN: So what do you see happening over the next few years with the adoption of AI platforms?

JW: I think the e-discovery market is going to fundamentally change. There’s still always going to be a need for discovery within corporations and law firms, but what you do you with the data is going to become much more important, so it’s going to be about how you can extract value from the data, not just metadata, which we’ve always been able to do for years now, but now more about looking for entity information. People, place, organizations that are mentioned in documents and emails, and collaborative environments, and being able to visualize those, and quickly drill down to what was going on in your organization. You know, if you got people that are going to the dentist three times a week, they’re not doing to the dentist, they’re doing something else, They’re just writing about going to the dentist.

LN: Yeah.

JW: Software like ours that can identify those references in documents are going to be crucial to the success of organizations.

LN: That’s great. So it seems that there’s continued e-discovery service provider consolidation out there.

JW: Mhmm.

LN: The companies that are using tools that are more of a channel partner tool to resell.

JW: Yes.

LN: But as those companies consolidate, do you think that there’s going to be a movement away from those providers where, the company, the firms, directly do their own e-discovery?

JW: Oh, yes. Yeah, very much so. We’ve been seeing that over the last few years. A lot of companies, even small companies that tend to have, in the past, just used outside vendors for e-discovery, are now deciding that they prefer to control, not just the cost, but also their data. They don’t want their data outside of the organization for reasons we’ve already talked about. So they’re purchasing in-house tools that they can use themselves, and then they can invite outside counsel in to make use of, that way they control their costs, they control the efficiency, and they control the data.

LN: Well, this has been great. Thanks a bunch for being on the show.

JW: Thank you again.

LN: Take care.

JW: Bye-bye.

Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Artificial Intelligence

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on Artificial Intelligence

View Other Related Articles

View ZyLAB website

https://www.zylab.com/en/company

Learn More About GDPR and the European Union

https://gdpr-info.eu/

Learn More About CCPA the California Consumer Privacy Act

https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa

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Preventative Measures: Medical Devices

What is a FIPS 140-2 and how does it play a role in medical devices? Are medical devices manufactured with security in mind? Experts Lee Neubecker and Keith Handler discuss medical device security.

What measures are in place to help protect medical devices from cyber compromise? President & CEO of Enigma Forensics, Lee Neubecker gained insight into the latest and greatest preventative measures being developed for medical devices. Lee sat down with the top engineer for Sterling Medical Devices, Keith Handler and explored technical measures applied to the manufacturing process of medical devices. Check out this video to learn all about the tech measures. You will be so much smarter if you do!

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Medical Devices

Part 3 of our 3-Part Series on Medical Devices

The video transcript of Preventative Measures: Medical Devices follows.

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I’m back on the show again with Keith Handler from Sterling Medical Devices. Keith, thanks for coming back.

Keith Handler: Hi Lee, thanks for having me.

LN: So in our 3rd segment on medical device security, we’re going to talk a little bit more about some of the hardware elements, how the software gets loaded onto medical devices and what things are in place to help protect medical devices from cyber compromises. So first, Keith, can we start off with telling everyone what FIPS 140-2 is and how that plays a role?

KH: Yeah, absolutely. FIPS is the Federal Information Processing Standard, 140-2 is the specific certification for encryption libraries. That certification means that those encryption libraries are proven to be usable and certified to be usable for federal systems and medical systems.

LN: Most hospitals require FIPS 140-2 for immediate devices if you’re transferring PHI, Patient Health Information. If you’re transferring that information to external storage, they want to make sure you’re using secure storage that meets federal information processing standards.

KH: Correct.

LN: So when you’re evaluating a device for security, what are some of the things that you do to help ensure that the firmware that’s stored on the chips is secure and safe?

KH: Well, an embedded device it’s a challenge, of course, you have limited space, limited capabilities typically, especially on lower power devices. If you’ve got the space and the ability, we can use hardware encryption chips, hard-circuits, those are usually the most reliable and the most performant. If not, there’s plenty of embedded libraries out there that are FIPS 140-2 certified. The main thing being that we never roll our own as far as encryption libs go, we use federally certified ones to ensure that we’re up to the current standards and encryption strength.

LN: Those standards change over time.

KH: Correct, yes.

LN: At one point and time, SHA-1 encryption used to be considered perfectly fine, but now with quantum computing, there’s been a rush to ditch SHA-1 and require SHA-2 as encryption library to help secure things.

KH: Yes, this brings up an important point actually. How do we keep things secure moving forward when new vulnerabilities are found, new attacks are found, libraries are cracked.

LN: Yeah so, what do hospitals and other healthcare providers need to be doing to ensure their devices stay secure once deployed?

KH: Well, hospital healthcare providers need to be making sure that they are up-to-date with the manufacture of all of their devices, that they are keeping apprised of any kind of recalls or anything like that. Manufacturers, the people that we typically deal with, product developers, their responsibility is to maintain a bill-of-materials, a cyber bill-of-materials; their libraries, their encryption circuits, make sure that they’re tracking the versions and things like that so that when a company has a vulnerability exposed, they can become aware and make updates and push them, software especially, as fast as possible.

LN: All right, so if an organization or a healthcare entity were to become compromised, have you been involved with supporting the client that underwent a cyber compromise?

KH: I have not, we’re usually in the earlier stages of developing the products prior to that occurring, and our products hopefully never get compromised.

LN: So I’d imagine though that if there’s a concern about the security of certain medical devices, that there’s a need to actually dump the firmware. Firmware is software stored on an embedded chip. But the firmware will persist after power-down, reboot to whatnot, but there is an ability to go and extract the firmware of the chip with the correct tools, such as a Bus Pirate, or other devices. And then what would you do to examine, if you had access to the firmware on a chip, how would you go about ensuring that that’s authentic?

KH: Well the first thing is if we’re going to push out firmware, things like that, you need to make sure that the device can know that it’s authentic. And we do things again, like digital signing, signature verification encrypting of that firmware package. That way we have a verification process in place to ensure that what we’ve got coming down is good.

LN: So that’s known as a hash.

KH: That’s part of it yes.

LN: So the hash value is the unique encrypted thumbprint generated by a hash algorithm and those hash values can be used to compare against the manufactures release version and what’s on the chip to determine, are they running the most recent up-to-date firmware, or are they running a older version or are the running something that’s rogue that is not known by the manufacturer.

KH: And that’s the real key, to make sure that what we’re running is what we expect it to be and not something that has been tampered with.

LN: How often are hospitals and IT staff actually auditing and checking their firmware?

KH: You know I’m not clear on that, but I would say almost certainly not enough.

LN: Yeah, so that’s one of the things that I know you’ve said earlier, that it’s important that all these entities using the devices, once they’re certified and deployed, there’s still a responsibility on the healthcare delivery organizations to make sure that they’re patching and updating those devices so that they keep the standards.

KH: Ideally. Nowadays, a lot more devices are connected, communicating out with central servers, and that gives them the advantage of being able to receive security updates, so it takes that middleman out, essentially, but that also opens up additional potential security holes that have to be considered and protected against.

LN: Yeah, and anything that comes to mind that you’re concerned about in regard to new threat factors?

KH: Well, you know, again, if I’m distributing firmware by handing it to you on a USB stick, you can be pretty certain that what I’m giving you is likely to be good. If I’m telling you download it from this site, you don’t know. For all you know, it could get tampered with in transit. So it raises a lot of additional risks.

LN: Do you think that there’s something to be said for going back to the old updates on CD, read-only media?

KH: Well, you know, information is what it is, and things mover faster nowadays, so I don’t know that it makes sense to move backward, it just means that we have to have more modern methods of protection.

LN: But thanks a bunch for being on this show. This is great stuff.

KH: You’re very welcome, and thanks for having me.

LN: It’s my pleasure.

View Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on Medical Devices

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on Medical Devices

Other Related Articles

Overview of the FDA’s Medical Device Regulations

https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/device-advice-comprehensive-regulatory-assistance/overview-device-regulation

Sterling Medical Devices website

https://sterlingmedicaldevices.com/

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Pitfalls in AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fastest-growing eDiscovery solution in the Legal Industry. Just like in Henry Ford’s day, it’s the keen cutting edge shaving away costs by reducing time spent from evidence to production. Use AI and don’t land in the pitfall.

“Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs”…Henry Ford

Is there a pitfall if you use AI? Computer Forensic Experts Lee Neubecker interviews Chief Innovation Office with DISCO, Cat Casey both agree the largest pitfall in AI is NOT embracing AI! Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fastest-growing eDiscovery solution in the Legal Industry. Just like in Henry Ford’s day, it’s the keen cutting edge shaving away costs by reducing time spent from evidence to production.

Cat explains DISCO was born out of the firm’s frustration with conventional eDiscovery tools that were slow and difficult for lawyers to use. Instead of being forced to adapt our work methods to technology, we wanted to invent technology that works the way lawyers work. DISCO was the result, and today we are the fastest-growing eDiscovery solution in North America. Both experts agree implementing AI will help companies gain a competitive edge. Watch this video to hear examples of how AI helps sharpen that edge!

Final Part of our 3-Part Series in Artificial Intelligence: Pitfalls in AI

The Video Transcript Pitfalls in AI Follows.

Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi and welcome back again Cat. Thanks for being on the show again.

Cat Casey (CC): My pleasure.

LN: Cat Casey from CS Disco. She’s a Chief Product Innovation Officer. Did I say that right?

CC: Chief Innovation Officer.

LN: Okay.

CC: Products too, though. It’s fine.

LN: They call her chief.

CC: They should.

LN: So we’re going to talk now, in this last part of our series on artificial intelligence, about some of the challenges of organizations that don’t adapt and don’t get on board. So, what do you see the potential risks and pitfalls for law firms that don’t begin to embrace so sort the form of a technology-assisted review or artificial intelligence to help speed up the review process?

CC: Well, at a very basic level, clients are getting smarter. We’ve got CLOC https://cloc.org/, we’ve got clients talking to each other more, and they’ve raised their expectations of how their firms are going to be competitive. And it used to be if you were big law firm A you would always have this corporate client for every anti-trust case they would always go to you. But now I was getting dozens of RFPs where they’re asking me what technology are you using? How are you driving innovation? How are you driving efficiency? Because there is a higher expectation of competition between outside counsel. That, maybe, wasn’t there a few years ago. And so, the client expectation is driving this appetite to investigate eDiscovery and Artificial Innovation (AI) based innovation in a way that wasn’t here a few years ago.

LN: Has there been any industry research that has attempted to benchmark the cost of a case using an AI platform to speed up review versus not, to your knowledge?

CC: You know. I can speak from Disco, and we see about a 60% reduction in time to evidence to production. And that translated to dollars. And so, I mean, 60% savings on the 80% of a case that is reviewed is substantial. The thing that I think is most important is cost-savings big, but getting evidence quicker.

LN: Yeah. Time is of the essence.

CC: That is the thing that is paramount because of a lot of these companies… I worked at a company that had very big budgets, but no amount of money, no amount of people, was going to be enough to get these insights I needed before the meet and confer. Or before I had a critical filing with a government investigator. And so, getting evidence quicker so I can start building my case, was the differentiator.

LN: Yeah, certainly if you’re working for a company facing a DOJ inquiry.

CC: Yep.

LN: Knowing the good, the bad, the ugly.

CC: Yep.

LN: As soon as possible can help you make better decisions for your clients. Which might involve, you know, settlement. settling. Yeah, yeah. There have been many recent settlements, recently, from big companies that didn’t want to get tied down at least.

CC: Well I’ve had cases where… One of my favorite ones I used tons of different AI and analytic tools. I had a big bank that had been fined billions of dollars and another big bank was, they had hired on people in that same group, and they were wondering if they would be subject to the same investigation. So, I did some social network analysis. Who was talking to who, with what frequency? I parsed Bloomberg’s chat. I parsed audio logs. And I used everything to keep triangulating down until I was able to identify the bad actors, saying the bad things, and the map of the structured data to show they didn’t do the bad things. And my company wasn’t on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. My company wasn’t fined. So it ends up being very compelling, even early in investigations.

LN: Yeah. Certainly responding quickly is important now. Have you seen any success stories as it relates to companies embroiled with data breach incidences, that have used your platform to help get ahead of what was going on?

CC: 100%. I mean PII, so personally identifiable information, is something that you’re going to have to notify if there is a breach. So if someone, say your Equifax, not that I’m naming them, but say you’re a big company with a lot of personally identifiable or health information. You need to identify it quickly, notify these people in their specific timelines. Tools, like Disco’s, help you use algorithms to find that quickly and act upon it. Otherwise, if you’re looking at 100 million records, there’s no amount of humans that could go through that, in a timely manner, where you’re going to comply with time obligations. And so, it’s majorly impactful.

LN: That certainly is. Well, are there any other things you want to say on the show before we wrap up?

CC: You know, adapt. The reality is no one wants to be the buggy whip maker in a Tesla world. The time to start investigating and vetting and ensuring that the tech you’re looking at isn’t hype is now. Because in a year, or three years, or four years, you might be behind the curve. So, find your resident dork, ask questions, dig into the tech. Now is the time.

LN: And it’s probably worthwhile, you know, without being biased towards Lit Funder, why not take a case try out Disco, try out another offering to see what really works. I mean you had the benefit of…

CC: Yeah.

LN: You were on the other side working for the law firm, shopping for vendors.

CC: I did a 55 vendor RFP. I’ve seen everyone. I’ve looked under every hood. I mean there’s a reason I went to Disco. But there are other tools good out there. I think you want a toolbox with lots of different tools. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Let’s be honest, litigation is always bespoke, so you want lots of tools that can help you address it.

LN: Great. Well, thanks again for being on the show.

CC: Yeah, my pleasure.

LN: This was great.

Watch the Entire Series on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Part 1 of our 3-Part Series on AI

Part 1 in our 3-Part Series on AI

Part 2 of our 3-Part Series on AI

Part 2 on our 3-Part Series

Other Related Articles

DISCO’s website

https://www.csdisco.com/about-us

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

http://www.aaai.org/

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What does the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court do?

Meet Jacob Meister candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court that oversees the second-largest court system in the United States. Jacob vows to improve and better manage over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County.

The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court is one of those offices that is not well known but is extremely important in the operation of one of the nation’s largest court systems. The Cook County Circuit Court is the second-largest court system in the United States. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is responsible for overseeing all the court records for many courts including small claims, chancery, civil, law, probate, child support enforcement, traffic, and criminal courts. There are over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County.

In this video, Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, a candidate for the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Jacob Meister has been a practicing attorney in Chicago for 29 years. In his law practice, he has been a near-daily user of the Cook County Court system and he has experienced firsthand the tragically antiquated and inefficient operation of the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. Jacob Meister shares how he intends to reform the antiquated system, create a better judicial management workflow with transparency, efficiency and while running the office in an ethical manner.

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Meet Jacob Meister Candidate for the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

The Video Transcript for What Does the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Do?

Lee Neubecker: Today I have on my show, Jacob Meister. Jacob’s running for Cook County Clerk of the Court. And he’s come on today to tell us all a little bit about what the Clerk of the Court does and what their role is. Thank you for being on the show.

Jacob Meister: Well, thank you for having me on, Lee. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is one of those offices that are not really well known but is extremely important in the operation of our courts. The Cook County Clerk oversees the second-largest court system in the United States. We have over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County. And the Clerk of the Court is the chief operating officer effectively of the courts, overseeing everything from all the court records to staffing the courtrooms, the Court Clerk’s who take your oath when you go testify and then all of the intake and the counters. And they also oversee things like child support, about a half a billion dollars a year in fines, fees, and forfeitures. They handle all the accounting so that when a fine is paid, it goes to the right municipality or to the state or to whoever is entitled to that money for the fines. So it’s very important. The Clerk’s office is currently occupied, as you may know by Dorothy Brown. She’s retiring after 20 years. And we really need to rethink how the Clerk’s office works. I personally am the only one in the race who has actually practiced for 29 years in the Circuit Court of Cook County and made a career of it. And it’s an office that’s broken. It’s broken ethically and operationally. We still, unfortunately, as judges and lawyers hand write out orders in triplicate using carbon paper. And for a court system that has a million and a half cases pending, that means millions and millions and millions of pieces of paper just in court orders. We can do better. We have to do better. The private industry long ago automated, implemented technology. We need to do the same thing in courts. And let me just give you a couple of examples of the real-life consequences of what happens because of our broken technology. We have about 600 prisoners right now in the Cook County or in the state of Illinois prison system who have appealed their convictions and their convictions for more than a year, cannot move forward because the Clerk’s office has lost the paperwork. And this has been pretty widely reported on. But the other things are that you know, people end up getting evicted, they have child custody issues, they sit in the Cook County jail because our current system can’t get paperwork where it needs to be. It doesn’t have good auditing standards, accounting standards. We need to do better because it affects substantial justice.

LN: So will you put computers into the courtroom with printers so that the documents are being captured instantly, electronically?

JM: Well, it’s actually beyond that. So you’ve got two kinds of systems. You’ve got one system which is, a filing system. And right now, we are in the process of moving over so that when people file paperwork, it gets filed electronically. But the second system, which is yet to come is a case management system. So once those documents have been filed, we need a way to index everything. The current Clerk’s office runs on a DOS-based system that was implemented in the 1990s and it’s just an index system. But court systems all around the country have very robust case management systems that outline exactly what’s going on in the case. And instead of having written orders, you do digital orders so that, so that those digital orders, are called minute orders, are captured right in the courtroom, real-time, by the Court Clerks, noting such things as the next court date or what happened in the court, in the court hearing. There’s still going to be a percentage of things that need to be done on paper and then uploaded as PDFs but we can probably capture about 80% of our orders fully digitized so that there is no paper but goes in digitally. And that is a great first step and it helps eliminate errors. It makes sure that there’s a clear record that’s available, it needs to be available. Web-based from outside the court system too so the lawyers and judges-

LN: So you mean you had to come down on a cold Chicago day

JM: Correct.

LN: to stand in line. To pay your money, to make your photocopy and then schlep back.

JM: Correct. I mean, right now, they’ve got electronic filing so we file, we’re required to file digitally but if you want to get a copy of what’s been filed digitally in a case, you actually have to travel to a court location, print it out hard copy, pay for the hard copy and then, of course, I go back and scan it back into the system. It’s not available web-based. It’s not web-based for download, just like the rest of the world works and that’s a problem.

LN: There are systems out there though, commercial systems out there that are designed to snap in and take care of that, correct?

JM: Correct, there are case management systems that are in use. Cook County has a tremendously complex court system with lots of divisions and different sections all over the county so we need to be very highly customized. Cook County has committed to about 36 million dollars towards a new case management system. Problem is, they want to use an off the shelf software. They tried rolling them out in the criminal division back in November. It is fraught with problems. There hasn’t been proper training for the users. Actually, the judges and lawyers and others, including the Sheriff’s Department, the State’s attorney, all of the stakeholders in the system haven’t been consulted with bringing that onboard and so as a result, we’ve got a system that is at risk of just being shelved and not used any longer because it’s just fraught with problems and errors and lack of user training. We need to do a better job. We need to train people. We need to consult with all the end-users to make sure that our case management system meets the workflow of the courts, not the other way around and our current Clerk has tried to implement it in a way to say, “Here’s a system we’re going to use. Figure out how to organize your court system around our computer system.” That’s the tail wagging on the dog.

LN: So as a reformer, you really plan to make changes to speed up and get rid of the backlog of cases that currently jam up the court.

JM: Yeah, well, right now, we’ve got a huge backlog as I mentioned in the Appellate Court. You’ve got a huge backlog because the Circuit Court’s not transmitting proper records up to the Appellate Court so you got a huge backlog in the Appellate Court and you end up having a much slower process at the Circuit Court level because it’s all based on our old paper system movement of files from courts to warehouses, back to the courts, back and forth. Things are lost.

LN: That creates lots of jobs, right?

JM: Well, that is really, you know, we’ve got a very unfortunate patronage problem in the Clerk’s office. Clerk’s office has about 1500 employees and there’s a tremendous amount of political patronage that’s controlled by the party machine. The old way of doing business. We can’t afford to do that anymore. We got to deliver good value to the taxpayers, particularly as we move to electronic systems. It’s no longer a system that can operate with paper where somebody’s job is to stamp paper and then move the pile over to somebody else to stamp something else. It’s now a much more technical job so we need to make sure we’re doing a better, making sure we’re doing a better job of training Clerk staff so that they can digitally record minute orders as I talked about. Make sure that our court records are being kept but that is going to require a lot of training. I have had discussions with the city colleges of Chicago and some of our community colleges to having a new program, a certificate in paralegals, a paralegal certificate for Cook County Courtroom management.

LN: Take the staff and put them through there to actually take the people that are there and make them more efficient by investing in their training.

JM: Correct, correct. So they’d have paralegal certificates in Cook County Courtroom management and that would make sure our systems are very uniform and automated so that everybody who interfaces with the court can rest assured that our court system’s going to operate transparently and efficiently. And so we need to do that, our employees deserve it and I think the public deserves the transparency that that would bring.

LN: Well, thanks for being on the show, Jacob. This has been really great.

JM: Well, thank you for having me. Happy to come back on again.

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