FTI Technology’s Digital Forensics & Investigations practice has grown significantly over the last year and is seeing increasing demand for digital forensics expertise alongside an upswing in the scope and scale of regulatory and internal investigations. As part of the team’s recent expansion, Johnathan Bridbord joined as a Managing Director, bringing extensive experience in law enforcement, incident response investigations, expert witness work, computer forensics and regulatory matters. In this Q&A, Johnathan discusses his background and his views on the various implications of technology innovation on investigations and disputes.
Johnathan, you’ve held some interesting roles across the public and private sectors. To start, will you talk a bit about your background and areas of expertise?
My career in this field started during my enlistment with the New York Air National Guard, where I was trained in computer systems and worked on planning and implementation projects and trained in information assurance. That soon led me to law enforcement and a role with the City of New York Department of Investigation overseeing cybersecurity and conducting incident investigations in support of the Inspectors General. Later, I spent 10 years at the Department of Justice in the criminal division, where I worked as a computer forensic specialist supporting the 93 U.S. Attorneys offices around the country in prosecuting high stakes federal crimes. During my time with the DOJ, I was the assistant director of the High Tech Unit, which involved providing expert witness and forensic analysis training for federal agents and prosecutors at the National Advocacy Center in South Carolina.
Prior to joining FTI Technology, I also spent five years working as an expert witness and growing the cyber investigations practice at Ankura. Beyond investigations and computer forensic work, my expertise is in providing trial testimony as a qualified expert witness and helping to build and present complex case facts in a way that is relatable and understandable to a jury.
How does that all tie into what you’re doing now at FTI Technology?
First, I’ll say that it’s energizing to be a part of the team here and I’m glad to have the opportunity to work alongside some of our industry’s foremost experts. FTI Technology’s strong reputation and culture of collaboration and innovation were very appealing to me. In terms of my practice here, I’ll be working with our growing Digital Forensics & Investigations and Blockchain & Digital Assets practices to support investigatory work for civil litigation, regulatory matters and disputes involving cryptocurrency and digital assets.
With your background in government, do you plan to focus on engagements in that sector or any other specific industries?
Many organizations in heavily regulated industries, such as financial services, health care, insurance, automotive, etc., will have a routine volume of disputes and investigations overall, as well as a higher volume of complex cases that require expert guidance. I’ll be working primarily with clients that fall into that category. There may also be instances where we support government agencies on matters that are highly technical or demand specialized resources.
I also think we’re going to see an uptick in investigations driven by advancements in technology. The pace of innovation is moving very quickly, and that creates a new and growing assortment of digital data points that may need to be investigated for legal or compliance purposes. For example, software in electric vehicles is being updated continuously—at the same time, it’s generating and logging a tremendous amount of telemetry about what’s happening in and with the vehicle. This type of information could become critical in a dispute, but collecting and analyzing it could be a complicated task. This is just one example of how technology innovation is driving a growing need for deep digital forensic expertise.
Do you see the pace of technical change being a top challenge for clients now or is this an issue that’s on the horizon?
It’s already a challenge because clients are trying to catch up enough to understand the evolving landscape and determine how they need to respond to it. Legal teams are struggling to factually understand the complex technology issues coming into scope in their cases, and will experience more of that as innovation progresses. The key to dealing with this is having access to experts who can translate complex technical concepts into something accessible in layman’s terms.
Can you share any additional examples or anecdotes that illustrate how this issue is arising in current cases?
One interesting area is around legislation that governs how biometric data is collected and used. For example, there have been numerous recent employment lawsuits, some of which I’ve been involved with as an investigator, relating to the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law states employers that collect biometric information from employees may do so only with consent and must also implement certain protections around that information. There’s an interesting digital forensics element to these cases, which involves deep analysis of the devices that collect and store biometric derived data. This is a prime example of how technology advancement is leading to new types of investigations.
Thanks, Johnathan. To wrap up, is there anything you’d like to share about your life outside of work?
I’m passionate about public service and serving my community. I have volunteered as a firefighter and EMT in New York, which were very meaningful experiences for me. At home, I enjoy cooking with my wife and working out on my Peloton (which by the way, is another really interesting digital source to consider in the context of investigations).
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.