Newly appointed as a Senior Managing Director, David Meadows is bringing his e-discovery and computer forensics expertise to FTI Technology’s E-Discovery Consulting & Services and Digital Forensics & Investigations practices. Based out of the Chicago office, David will help clients leverage advanced analytics to reduce cost and risk around their data challenges. He sat down with us to discuss his new role and his thoughts on innovation.
David, you’ve been working in e-discovery for more than 20 years. What can you tell us about how it’s changing?
Really, everything has changed since I first started working in this field. We have case law, better technology aptitude, cross-border workflows, advanced tools and a better grasp on the types of challenges that are likely to arise in certain matters. What stand out to me as the biggest changes though, are the sheer volume and diversity of data that e-discovery teams are dealing with today. We’re facing data preservation and collection challenges relating to collaboration tools, social media, mobile devices and more—in ways that couldn’t have been anticipated 10 years ago.
As clients grapple with new forms of data, and challenges such as preserving data from chat tools or authenticating evidence from social media feeds, they need outside experts that can help them establish a defensible approach. In my role at FTI, I’ll be helping clients tackle these and other issues, looking for ways to automate collections for new data types and methodologies for authenticating and reviewing them in an efficient and defensible manner.
Your background includes leadership roles at a number of consulting firms. What attracted you to FTI?
In short, I’m excited about the caliber of innovation taking place at FTI, especially as it relates to dealing with large data volumes and complicated e-discovery matters. There are countless providers that re-sell leading tools or offer e-discovery hosting. FTI takes this much further, truly innovating with technology platforms to enhance their functionality so that the tools meet the specific and unique needs of each client.
So, innovation is important to you. Can you talk about some of the areas you are eyeing for innovation, or things already in motion where you plan to dig in?
FTI’s Technology practice is already doing some interesting things around the integration of multiple tools like Brainspace, Relativity and Nuix to enhance their core analytics capabilities. I’m excited about our work in parsing data from Slack and new capabilities for capturing new data formats and automating quality control within some of the analytics tools. What’s special about FTI is that the expertise of the team is very broad, so we have the technical ability to innovate with any set of tools a client prefers, around any challenge a client throws at us.
As you mentioned before, the data landscape is changing rapidly, and making investigations and e-discovery more complicated. Do you have any examples of how this is taking shape in the real world?
One example is the rapid adoption of collaboration apps such as Slack, which are increasingly taking the place of email within the enterprise. Increasingly, counsel is being asked to paint a holistic picture across email, devices and collaboration apps and this information can often be difficult to preserve, collect, search, analyze and review. This is especially the case when many of these apps are cloud-based and designed without e-discovery or collection in mind.
Can you share some previous experiences or challenging matters that stand out as the most relevant for the work you will be doing here?
A really interesting case I recently led was for a global e-discovery team in response to an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice. The investigation was around allegations of anti-competitive practices. My team collected data from more than 250 custodians in eight countries, and processed and hosted it in three countries. I assisted multiple antitrust counsel in meeting the regulator’s review and production requirements, including development of a cost-effective methodology for analyzing nearly 2,000 backup tapes to identify potentially relevant tapes for restoration. The case involved multiple languages and databases, which required workflows and globally consolidated reporting with visual dashboard to ensure counsel could digest massive amounts of information in a consistent and efficient way throughout all phases of the case.