Becoming a lawyer was not Plan A. My undergrad degree is in music education. If not for crimped education budgets and a looming recession when I graduated, I’d probably be in a high school orchestra room right now, not in a law office.
Humble Beginnings and Manual Reporting
Like all undergrads, I needed money. So, I got a job at an AmLaw 100 firm in their litigation support department. A new thing called “eDiscovery” was entering the justice system, and the height of innovation was printing emails off…only to scan them into review software and manually coding the to, from, cc and bcc fields. Ah, memories.
Fast forward to 2012. I’m an associate at that same AmLaw firm, and part of my job was coordinating discovery for numerous cases, including a major multi-district litigation. That meant remembering:
- What data was hosted with which Relativity channel partners
- What my login credentials were
- The managed review partner working those documents
I was losing almost a day every week running manual reports. What’s more, by the time the reports were done, they were out of date — and useless. I went to law school to become an attorney, not to feel my brain melt to mush as I updated my homemade Excel sheet again.
There had to be a better way.
Officially Legal Tech Entrepreneurs!
In time, some partners and I set up our own litigation firm. I continued to be involved with large scale document review projects, and we wondered whether there was a way to differentiate ourselves by offering clearer visibility into the process.
Discussions with friends and colleagues convinced us that there was enough market demand for this tool to stand on its own. We began demoing the tool ourselves, showing it to clients or close friends involved with eDiscovery, refining, adding, refining, tweaking. As the tool took shape and we began to find natural extensions of use cases, momentum started to build for us to move to a commercial launch.
We attended Relativity Fest in Chicago in the fall of 2019 unsure of what we’d find.
- Would in-house legal teams or outside counsel “get it” more?
- Would channel partners be interested in partnering with us?
- Would someone else with deeper pockets or a bigger development team have spotted what we felt was a wide-open opportunity and have beaten us to the punch?
In short, we left with excitement:
- Outside counsel was excited about the transparency for their clients.
- In-house legal teams were excited about accountability for the review partners.
- Managed review providers were excited about driving more efficiency into their operations.
- Channel partners were intrigued about partnering with us to go to market.
Hurry Up and Wait
To be honest, we were excited and relieved. Starting a company is hard. Bootstrapping a company is hard. Doing those things while managing a fast-growing law firm is really hard.
We knew we needed someone who could focus on commercializing the tool. After all, we’re full time attorneys. We were introduced to Ryan Short through a mutual friend. Our business values and philosophies aligned, so we brought him aboard as we prepared to launch.
There are lots of variations of the saying “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” It’s important to start generating revenue, but we also want to refine product-market fit, and to gather as much feedback about the tool as possible. There’s no point to spending a ton of money on a fancy website, digital ads, and marketing campaigns until we’re confident we’re ready to crank it up. So, Ryan got to work calling and emailing legal ops teams, general counsel, eDiscovery attorneys, eDiscovery practice leads, Relativity channel partners – the list goes on.
It quickly became evident that the tool we envisioned – built in AWS, designed to federate access across Relativity channel partners – was going to face headwinds in some parts of the market. In-house legal teams are generally more comfortable with the cloud (and often understand security features that often make the cloud even more secure than on-prem). Speaking with multiple AmLaw 100 firms, we often found that the likely users of DiscoveryMaster were comfortable with (or even preferred) the cloud, but the decision makers mandated on-prem solutions. Coincidentally, RelOne adoption was accelerating, meaning some clients may need multiple logins for DiscoveryMaster – which was my annoyance in starting this whole thing, anyway.
So, it was time to push pause on the roadmap and ensure we had solutions for:
- On-prem, behind the firewall.
Formal Launch, Key Benefits
And now, as we approach RelFest 2020 – virtually – we’re thrilled to formally launch.
DiscoveryMaster makes eDiscovery intuitive for non-Relativity experts.
It is built for in-house legal teams who want to:
- drive accountability into managed document review projects.
- have real-time data on your budget.
- know what potentially privileged or hot documents are in the corpus.
DiscoveryMaster is built for outside counsel who want to:
- make distilled, relevant findings quickly accessible to the litigation or investigations team.
- limit the amount of time high-dollar employees are spending on eDiscovery so they can focus on high-level strategic legal advice.
- be progressive stewards of their clients’ legal budget.
With the technology available to automate these tasks, there’s no reason to pay hourly rates for someone to do it manually. Let lawyers practice law! Technology can deliver actionable insights for a fraction of the cost.
Coming Full Circle
Even after launching my own firm, I continued to conduct youth orchestras. Teaching, coaching, and bringing out the best in passionate young musicians was a huge joy to me. DiscoveryMaster is one way I channel my undergraduate education to professionals passionate about innovating the legal profession.
Improving product quality while lowering costs is a textbook definition of progress and innovation. These innovations lead to enhanced client satisfaction and a deeper relationship between client and vendor. There’s no reason for lawyers to fear technology.
To stay connected, follow our blog and our LinkedIn page. And if you’re ready to talk about how DiscoveryMaster can give you transparency into budgets, timelines, and quality control, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.