Erica Albertson brings more than 15 years of law firm e-discovery management experience across the U.S., EU, and U.K. to FTI Technology. As part of FTI Technology’s E-Discovery Consulting and Services practice in EMEA, her hands-on technological expertise provides clients with technology-led approaches to discovery exercises that solve complex problems in legal disputes and investigations. In this Q&A, Erica discusses challenges in modern e-discovery and her views on the most impactful technology solutions to achieve efficient, defensible, cost-effective discovery.
Erica, your extensive law firm experience is unique and a valuable addition to FTI Technology’s team. Can you talk about your professional background and how it led you to a role in consulting?
In the realm of e-discovery and project management, my background is quite broad. I’ve supported counsel and clients in managing e-discovery for investigations, litigation, dawn raids, employment cases, data subject access requests (DSARs) and more. I also have a great deal of experience with High Court claims and have helped to create defensible workflows for the implementation of Practice Direction (PD) 57AD “Disclosure in the Business and Property Courts” (formerly the Disclosure Pilot Scheme, PD51U).
Throughout this work, I’ve developed extensive experience utilizing machine learning, technology assisted review (TAR) and continuous active learning (CAL) and creating bespoke workflows built upon technology.
So, what prompted the jump from the law firm world to FTI Technology?
My roles have always been consultative to some degree. Now, I can broaden my reach –in addition to working with outside counsel, I can work more closely with corporate clients, opposing parties, courts and regulators and focus on helping them leverage, interpret, and understand the nuances of e-discovery and TAR workflows.
The team here at FTI Technology are true experts and very good at what they do, so joining felt like a natural evolution for my career. It’s a great opportunity to join this team and bring a fresh perspective regarding CAL expertise. Because my experience is more focused on court processes and procedures, I offer a specialized understanding of client needs, which can help to strengthen and build new law firm relationships.
In your view, what are the biggest challenges legal teams struggle with when applying CAL and other TAR tools?
It’s quite a different experience running an active learning project on the provider side versus the law firm side. The technical inner-workings of CAL and TAR aren’t always understood or trusted by lawyers and the courts, so simply understanding the technology and being able to explain how it categorized documents is a big challenge for many legal teams. On the law firm side, there is much more involvement in the wider case strategy and the correspondence between the parties to explain, question and defend e-discovery processes. My law firm experience has really shown that the ability to defend TAR processes, and sense-check the opposing party’s process, is paramount.
As a consultant, it is vital that I can explain these processes in a manner that can be understood by the lawyers, barristers and end-client, who are not usually deeply technical. I sometimes call myself a translator. I explain technical things to non-technical people. This was a significant part of my work before joining FTI Technology, and I look forward to acting as a translator between the legal side and the technical side for our team and for our clients.
Do you have any predictions for what’s ahead, or any trends that you’re watching closely?
We are seeing regulators and courts take more interest in emerging data sources like Teams, chat, WhatsApp, and structured data sources like project management systems, customer complaint databases and financial records databases. It will be key to be able to tell the story of what happened in an investigation or litigation by linking these different data sources together into a single view that effectively tells a story with the entire data picture. This is something that we have been focusing on in terms of innovation and workflow development and our clients are experiencing the benefits.
Another trend that I think we will see in 2023 is the increase in the use of analytics and machine learning technology for contract review and due. There is a lot of need right now for improved contract review and contract management processes, especially given what’s ahead for the evolution and impacts of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) III. The latest guidelines suggest a need to incorporate ESG preferences, which will demand new workflows around measurement and reporting of certain data. Organizations are likely also going to need to prepare for related investigations, inspections and repapering exercises similar to those undertaken for the LIBOR remediations.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.