Renée Lee, International Marketing Director at Guidance Software, is leaving Guidance and will shortly be joining eDiscovery Tools. The e-Disclosure Information Project’s loss on one side is balanced by a gain on the other
I had been two days in the remote Cornish cottage which we borrowed last week before I strayed into a patch of garden where my BlackBerry sprang to life (yes, I know it has a switch somewhere to turn it off). The first batch of messages to come through included a short one from Renée Lee at Guidance Software briefly asking recipients to note that this was her final day at Guidance Software. Since Renee and I had been talking a couple of days earlier, planning my imminent visit to Guidance in Pasadena, this came as something of a shock.
As a communication from someone highly skilled in communication, the message was somewhat short on information. It took another 24 hours for me to establish that Renée is going to join Jo Sherman and Seamus Byrne at eDiscovery Tools.
That is extremely good news for a small company with a good set of products and very wide ambitions. The company’s focus is on its technical people – the developers and support team. It has been known to take its developers to client meetings so that they hear at first hand what the user wants. Jo Sherman and Seamus Byrne are heavily involved in the new e-discovery developments in the Australian Courts side-by-side with their roles promoting, selling and supporting the company’s applications, and Renée will bring more than just another pair of hands and a focus which goes beyond just marketing products.
Why do you need to look beyond just marketing your company’s products? The litigation support technology market is different from most other technology markets. The decision-makers, on the whole, are not techies but people professionally qualified and skilled in disciplines to which the technology is ancillary. It is not enough to show that your technology solution works in a purely technical sense. You have to understand something about the context in which it will be used, the pressures which the lawyers face and the targets they need to reach.
If it seems overly demanding that litigation lawyers expect you to understand their business, their rules and their vocabulary – well, lawyers are demanding people, with demanding clients and judges to satisfy. They are also working at the junction of two technical subjects – the court rules and the unavoidable use of technology to handle electronic documents. If anything, the suppliers have to be ahead of the customer-base in understanding this junction.
It was for this that I set up the e-Disclosure Information Project at the beginning of this year, having spent half my working life as a litigation lawyer and half as a litigation software developer. The aim was to be both an interface and and influencer, bringing together the courts, suppliers and lawyers whose interests in e-disclosure had a commonality which was insufficiently recognised. Guidance Software joined up as sponsors within a few weeks of the start-up.
The original connection arose some months earlier when I heard Victor Limongelli, now CEO of Guidance, speak in London. He displayed an easy familiarity with the UK court rules which, as I have said above, is a pre-requisite for selling solutions to those who practice by them. Guidance have been interested, supportive sponsors of the Project, and my chief link with them has been Renée Lee – thus my concern when I got the brief message that she was leaving.
If she is moving to eDiscovery Tools, however, then the Project’s loss on one hand is balanced by a very big gain on the other. This is partly because eDiscovery Tools is a rising star in the litigation technology landscape, but also because of Jo Sherman and Seamus Byrne’s work on the Australian rules. That ties in closely with what I am trying to do here, and with my conviction that the UK practice must take note of what happens in other jurisdictions. Seamus and I are speaking together in Sydney in October. I am off to ILTA in Dallas next week to glean more of what the US trends are.
None of this is at all remote from the needs of solicitors in Bristol, Birmingham or Leeds, from the expectation of UK judges, or from the way the suppliers focus their marketing here. Although much of what I do is concerned with rules and technology, a very big element (and much the most interesting) is the people – judges, practitioners, end-clients and suppliers – who, from their diverse stand-points, have a common interest in making technology work for more efficient case management. Renée Lee understands that very well and I am very glad that her move from Guidance Software is not taking her out of this market.