The ability to easily access data around key features of a legal department’s activity is a crucial element to making informed decisions about cases, including time and costs spent. Legal technology industry leaders and members of the development team of Spotlight for Inventus, Noel Kilby and Rebecca Fennessy, explained the systems and functionality at the heart of those needs for in-house legal departments. Their responses have been edited for length and style.
MCC: Noel, you’ve been a leader in the legal technology industry for more than 20 years, including as a founding member of the legal services team with Xerox Business Services. Tell us how your background informs your current work with Inventus.
Kilby: In my years working with litigation, regulatory and compliance teams, I have seen a number of technology cycles. The complexity of data structures and disparate sources continues to grow, pushing the boundaries of the technology required to regulate and collect that data. I have seen the movement from behind firewall-thick client installs through the first generation of browser-based products, the rise of SAAS (software as a service) and now the advance of automated coding in various iterations. At Inventus, having worked through all these changes, we try to ensure that everything we develop is extensible. We are constantly seeing the world become more connected and the advantages of this connectivity. Designing products that can connect and evolve is key to our strategy and road map for products. Spotlight is a perfect example, the extensible framework already connects to numerous database engines and consumes data from a variety of sources.
MCC: Rebecca, you are one of very few Relativity masters worldwide and your background includes a stint with KPMG, bringing unique qualifications to your role. Tell us how your e-discovery and legal tech background benefit your in-house clients.
Fennessy: Having a diverse range of experiences allows me to think outside the box and develop new solutions for my clients’ challenges. I can pull from different experiences and apply techniques from other industries to ensure my clients are getting the best results for their unique situation. Being in-house, you don’t always get a lot of exposure to new developments or ways of thinking; I try to adapt what I’ve seen in one industry to others so that everyone gets the benefits. Data is data, regardless of whether it comes from email, phone records or chats, or what it’s to be used for – litigation, compliance, investigation, record management. So I can use all of my prior experiences to devise the best possible strategy in each new case.
MCC: Inventus launched Spotlight in January of 2016, a dashboard specifically designed for corporate legal departments. Remind our readers less familiar with Spotlight of the key benefits, and tell us what you’ve learned in working with corporate users, including the features they find most valuable.
Kilby: Spotlight is a business analytics platform, a kind of management information reporting for GCs that puts cost predictability and cost management at their fingertips. It provides instant insight into a company’s litigation portfolio: data volumes, legal spend, cost savings, outsourcing provider comparisons and other key metrics.
The key features revolve around speed of access, insight and reporting. It’s interactive and user-friendly and makes charts with all data metrics available in an instant. Those charts are customizable and update in real time with functionality for different layouts for different users. You can drag and rearrange charts on the screen and click in to drill down. Files automatically export to Excel and PDF, making them perfect for board briefing packs or budget applications. The software is mobile-friendly and accessible from any device at any time. It works well for quick display in meetings.
Corporate users seem to concur that the instant access to financial data is the most valuable aspect of Spotlight. We are engaging on GC/head of litigation level and hear that the live updates on cost – that ability to show spend, budget, future costs and cost savings over a traditional pricing model or previous case pricing – are key.
The Holy Grail seems to be the ability to view a cost savings analysis table or chart to assess and demonstrate value for money, and to have the ability to predict and justify the following year’s litigation budget. Exportable custom charts and graphs make it easy to present law department budgets at an executive level.
Spotlight offers centralization of data, a single screen overview of multiple matters that allow in-house counsel, law firms and service providers to assess data volumes, hosted volumes, cost, cost comparison, review progress, review price per doc and the like.
It is still in the early days, and we would envisage over time that case managers will be the largest user group with project dashboards focused on the specifics of their case. Dashboards will track processing volumes and cost, the number of documents promoted to review, and review charts for productivity, findings, and categorization. The visual display of data will give insight into chronological or custodian gaps in the data set. Also, they will be able to report on budget, review progress and end time.
MCC: As a stand-alone application integrating data from an array of sources, including Relativity and other third-party applications, Spotlight, in addition to cost analysis and reporting, uses visual data mapping as a pathway to even greater cost savings. Give us a few examples of the various ways in which Spotlight, tailored to a specific company’s needs, can help corporate law departments and outside counsel better understand their own data without turning to costly outside assistance.
Fennessy: Spotlight offers a wide variety of insights into a client’s data and the progress of the review. Dashboards are customized to the individual and/or matter so that clients can get exactly the information they need, which can be different for in-house versus outside counsel. Clients can track their data processing and costs in real time, allowing them to foresee and prevent budget over-spends. Review statistics allow them to monitor the progress of the review and extrapolate that to predict costs for the remainder of the review or the disclosure size.
For in-house teams, multiple matters can be grouped together, allowing them to compare statistics, such as cost or relevance rate, across different matters or different outside counsels. The comparative cost savings of Luminosity elements, such as inVerito or M3, are also readily available, making it easy to quantify the savings that have already been made and view them in an intuitive visual format. Data volumes can be compared year on year, allowing more accurate predictions of future volumes and costs.
All of this gives our clients better visibility into their data, more confidence in their workflows and better control over their costs.
MCC: As tech-savvy millennials continue to change today’s workplaces and work habits, more and more data is coming from social media and cloud-based sources, such as Slack and WhatsApp. How are you advising your corporate clients regarding the discovery implications of these proliferating data sources?
Fennessy: Constantly there are new data types – other recent examples are Lync messages and Reuters and Bloomberg chats. The data itself we do not consider a challenge – in fact, our job is to deal with the data. The key challenges for the client are review of the data and then management of their own risk in situations where employees are potentially using nonprotected media hosted on a public cloud.
Review has challenges around the type of language that people use in chats – less formal and jargonistic – and search terms need to be crafted to capture the important information. We have developed a tool, Structured Data Reader (SDR), to present the data so that it can be reviewed.
We developed SDR when we first started to encounter Bloomberg messages delivered as a large and illegible single XML file. SDR creates new text files, which sit in Relativity and can be reviewed. The files look much more like the original conversations – they are easy to review, only certain parts can be disclosed, and they can be easily redacted or searched.
Inventus has worked on projects with corporate and legal clients with a requirement to migrate the data to Relativity for large-scale review. SDR allows fast validation of high record count loading of files with automated exception reporting to show missing data (natives, images or text), incorrect formats or incorrect document relationships.
Depending on the requirements of the client and case, Inventus defines workflows that allow faster access to specific functionality within Relativity. An example of this would be to expedite loading of metadata and text from the processing engine to Relativity to allow STR or analytics functionality prior to the loading of native files.
A client can also be affected by data collection difficulties. We have to advise clients on options for collection and if we do not have a password for a Windows media phone, the only way to retrieve WhatsApp data is to open the phone and solder a collections device to it. It boils down to having to be more versatile and clients needing to engage to organize efficient logistics for a collection exercise.
MCC: The world of e-discovery, managed review and related areas is evolving very rapidly. Inventus is unusual given the depth and breadth of its capabilities in the U.S. and Europe. What’s next on your horizon that will help companies searching to further drive down litigation costs without sacrificing outcomes?
Kilby: Our focus is upon evolving integrated and optimized relationships with our clients. Only through integration of workflow and deep knowledge of client environments can costs be optimized. It’s no secret, and large corporations and those with large litigation burdens know it only too well that they must manage their service provider relationships proactively and strategically in-house.
Inventus is geared up to lead the way in partnerships with our clients.
Our Luminosity suite was the first step. It includes inVerito, Direct Link, Privilege Log and Advanced Logix, which allow clients to craft case strategy early in the litigation life cycle, access data faster and hugely reduce cost (for example, processing costs are on average 50 to 60 percent lower using inVerito).
Next came M3: Multi-Matter Management™ software, which avoids recollection, reprocessing and recoding privileged documents. This represents a huge time and cost savings – which means quicker reaction to court deadlines.
Finally, there’s Spotlight, which gives full visibility to GCs and in-house managers.
All of this we are taking international – our data center is now open in Frankfurt, Germany, offering Germany’s best connectivity to our German-based and European clients while complying with one of the world’s most stringent data protection regimes.
Shanghai is going live in the first quarter of 2017 and Hong Kong later in the year. We plan to roll out delivery capability to our parent company, RPX, in their Tokyo office.
As part of an integrated and optimized e-discovery and managed review engagement, Inventus is happy to shoulder commercial risk to align our interests with our client’s interests. We will look at historic spend and provide a fixed price or capped agreement in which Inventus assumes the risk of a client being faced with a bet-the-company case.
Noel Kilby, Chief Technology Officer in the London office of Inventus, has developed software, both personally and with leading teams of software professionals, including the creation of a suite of e-discovery applications that attracted a global client base in the legal sector. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Rebecca Fennessy, Director of Technical Solutions, also out of the London office of Inventus, holds master status for Relativity software and focuses on developing custom Relativity database designs for her clients. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.