Tess Blair is a litigator and legal entrepreneur who has practiced at the intersection of law, technology, and design for more than two decades. Tess is the founder and leader of Morgan Lewis’s eData practice, a data-driven practice that combines great lawyering with technology and design to enhance the delivery of legal services.
A practicing litigator, Tess serves as national discovery counsel to some of the world’s largest organizations. She counsels a host of Fortune 500 companies, conducting risk assessments and guiding her clients as they develop internal information governance policies and controls to address privacy, security, retention, and disposition of information and data. She also helps her clients develop defensible models for responding to requests for information in litigation or investigations and marshals resources for such contingencies to assist her clients in satisfying their discovery obligations.
For clients in litigation, Tess frequently serves as discovery counsel alongside her client’s trial counsel, as a core member of the litigation team, develops, and executes all aspects of the client’s discovery strategy as well as optimizing her client’s evidence gathering, analysis, and presentation. Her role as discovery counsel includes negotiating the scope and conduct of discovery, developing ESI protocols, protective orders, and specialized procedures for cross-border transfer of data subject to privacy laws. She takes and defends record custodian and discovery-related depositions, handles all discovery-related motion practice, and drives all managed review, analysis, and production.
As leader of eData, Tess works with her team, her colleagues, and clients to design and develop tools and techniques to improve the delivery of legal services. Tess built the eData practice into a multidisciplinary team of lawyers, technologists, business professionals, designers, developers, and data scientists who design and deliver legal products and services to enhance the Morgan Lewis client experience across the firm’s practices, industries, and disciplines. The eData team uses process design, automation, UX, product design, application development, machine learning, and augmented intelligence tools to develop technology, process, and service solutions built to meet our clients’ needs. A Six Sigma Green Belt, Tess invests heavily in training the entire eData team in Legal Project Management, Six Sigma and Legal Design.
Tess lectures regularly on civil procedure, eDiscovery, and data privacy—including cross-border discovery and data minimization—and writes frequently on eDiscovery, information governance, and data privacy for a variety of legal publications. She is the lead author of the eData Deskbook, currently in its third edition. Tess also serves as Special Discovery Master to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She has been Chambers ranked nationally for nine years and globally for seven years in electronic discovery. In 2019, Tess was named one of the Top Ten Most Innovative Lawyers in North America by the Financial Times. Tess holds a Master of Professional Studies on Law Firm Management and studied industrial design at the Philadelphia College of Art before completing an undergraduate degree in philosophy at Ursinus College. Bringing entrepreneurial experience to her clients, Tess started and operated a small business before entering law school.