eDiscovery Today by Doug Austin

Rest in Peace, Robert Childress

I was saddened this morning to find out that Robert Childress, the Founder of The Masters Conference and a colleague and friend of many in the legal and eDiscovery communities passed away yesterday, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Robert Childress had an accomplished and successful career, ranging from work at Shepards McGraw-Hill while in college, to Lexis-Nexis (when they acquired Shepards), to starting his own service bureau, to helping start Wave Software to eventually founding the Masters Conference years ago.  Robert certainly fit the definition of an entrepreneur!  The Masters Conference was/is one of the last (if not the last) local legal tech/eDiscovery conference circuits that actually conducted events in local markets, which was great for legal professionals in those markets that might be otherwise unable to travel to educational events.  Robert’s Masters Conference truly brought legal education to people, which was unique in this industry.  And Robert did a great job of networking and including the provider community to help fund and promote the conference events, which is certainly a necessary component for success for any conference.

Back in 2016, I interviewed Robert when I was at CloudNine before a Masters Conference event in San Francisco – the text of that interview is available here.  Over the years I have gotten to know Robert, he has always been caring, personable and intelligent.  Many of my earliest speaking engagements at conferences were at Masters Conference events and many of the legal professional contacts that I have made in this industry have resulted through involvement in the Masters Conference.  Many others in this industry could certainly say the same.  Any Masters Conference event would include a happy hour for networking and camaraderie, and Robert also organized social get togethers at other industry conferences as well, which enabled many of us to get to know each other more personally, beyond just the business connection.

After Robert got sick, I had a discussion with him at Legalweek about three years ago about his prognosis and about the future of The Masters Conference and he stressed that he had made arrangements for The Masters Conference to continue in the event of his passing.  Sadly, the pandemic last year forced The Masters Conference (like so many others) to online events and it’s unfortunate that Robert didn’t get the chance to see the resumption of in-person MC events.  Knowing the team that has been working with and supporting him over the years, I know that The Masters Conference will continue to be an educational force in our industry and is a terrific legacy to Robert’s contribution to our industry, both personally and professionally.

Rest in Peace, Robert Childress.  You were great to work with, a good friend and I wish we had gotten that opportunity to get together in person one more time.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.