It is a great pleasure to welcome Clearwell Systems as the latest sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. Given Clearwell’s present standing in the eDiscovery market, it is hard to realise that it was founded as recently as 2004 and had therefore been going only three years when I set up the Project.
How does one measure a player’s “standing in the eDiscovery market”? I do not purport to be an analyst, so my use of the word “standing” implies no comparative statistics or detailed research. One can look at Clearwell’s “Strong positive” rating from Gartner in 2009, and its “Top 5” supplier ranking from Socha-Gelbmann in 2008, an the logos of its users on its home page – BP, Microsoft, Toyota, Walmart, FedEx and others – act as kind of reference, but my sense of their standing does not derive entirely from these things either. Nor do I get it just from the references which Clearwell attracts – a quotation from KPMG’s Paul Tombleson referring to the “simplicity and speed at which Clearwell processes data” appears on its home page, and Legal Inc’s web site carries an article called Legal Inc and Clearwell – cutting complex projects down to size .
What I am talking of is a less tangible sense than one gets from such hard factual sources. Clearwell gets mentioned a lot, amongst those who are potential users and amongst rivals, and in a way which conveys ubiquity; for the benefit of non-Latinists, that means they turn up everywhere. This goes beyond their appearances on product selection short-lists. Clearwell is, in addition, a regular and informed commentator on the market, with an active blog, a range of useful white papers, and tweets which do more than merely promote its own products. They also support TREC, the Sedona Conference and lead several EDRM projects.
There is, therefore, an obvious overlap between my interests and theirs which became clear when I first met CEO Aaref Hilaly in London a couple of years ago. Since then, Clearwell has set up in the UK, with Jason Montgomery and Laurence Pender, whom I have known for some time, as the UK representatives. As you will conclude from the references above, Legal Inc and KMPG offer Clearwell and associated consultancy services to law firms and corporate clients, as do Navigant Consulting Europe and Hobs Legal Docs.
The UK is a good place to be just now for those who can offer eDisclosure software and services. The pending Disclosure Practice Direction and Questionnaire are attracting interest from law firms with no history of handling electronic documents as well as from those with that experience. Discussions which I have had with firms suggests that many of them are thinking beyond the cases in which use of the Questionnaire will be compulsory, and appreciating its value as a sensible check-list for a wider range of matters, and for regulatory matters as well as litigation. The cases, mainly Earles v Barclays Bank, but also the various “incompetence cases”, are making the clients sit up. Many, so rumour has it, are in headless chicken mode (that is the next step on from denial) at the moment; that must settle down into asking serious questions about their own readiness and about the abilities of their lawyers, which in turn must resolve into action. The focus will be on proportionate handling of an issue which can no longer be avoided – not because the rules say so, but because that is where the evidence lies.
Clearwell’s eDiscovery Platform is now at Version 5.5, with a claimed ability to process one terabyte per day and deal with 100 million documents on a single appliance, with the option to chain multiple appliances. I understand that they have added several useful new review features to Version 6.0 which I look forward to seeing at ILTA.