I am very pleased to welcome First Advantage Litigation Consulting as a new sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. First Advantage was already a well-established forensics, litigation consulting and eDiscovery company when I met them at my first LegalTech in 2007; they set up in London shortly afterwards. I often come across Robert Brown, now VP of Eurasia Operations, at conferences, where he speaks lucidly about forensic data collection amongst other things; and I knew Drew Macaulay, Director of Business Development, before he joined First Advantage.
Back in 2007, the forensic and litigation function appeared on the First Advantage website as just one component amongst a broad range of business and information services. The wider group still does all that, but over the years the litigation arm acquired a strong identity of its own (as First Advantage Litigation Consulting) in the US, the UK, Europe, India and the Far East. First Advantage was acquired by Symphony Technology Group at the end of 2010. The result is a niche specialist company within a strong umbrella group.
After that first meeting at LegalTech, I met up with the then Executive Vice President for Litigation Consulting to talk about the company’s plans – it was exactly 4 years ago this week as it happens, and he was in London to recruit staff for the new office. The move to London, he said, was made largely because of the litigation and regulatory involvement in Europe of First Advantage US clients. Proximity was the initial driver for the move to London, as well as the need to manage EU privacy and data protection laws. The ambition was to make the London (and Brussels) offices into players with local business in their own markets within two years. I would guess (I don’t know) that the target was reached well within the two years and First Advantage Litigation Consulting has become an established player in the London e-disclosure market.
There are three components to its services, strategic consulting, computer forensics and e-discovery. It develops its own software and can manage the entire process from forensic collection onwards. I like the style of its website which disdains the conventional recitals of functions and benefits in favour of punchy wording like this:
Our forensics experts advise, collect and testify to our methods. Our developers refine features to fit specific engagements, or meet the needs of a client. Our Project Managers recommend workflow adjustments to accommodate changing review priorities. We have grown our tools and technology side-by-side, for a seamless integration of process and platform. Managing data throughout the discovery lifecycle ensures smooth transitions and mitigates the inherent risk any time data changes hands. We can nimbly shift our course as a project evolves and help our clients stay a step ahead. We work fast, dig deep, and don’t quit until we get the job done.
For UK law firms and companies, this approach makes First Advantage a competitor with both the software-driven and with the consultancy-led providers of litigation services for UK litigation as well as for the US and regulatory work which brought it here in the first place. It has its feet in more places than most, with three European offices (London, Brussels, Munich) and two in the Far East (Hong Kong and Tokyo).
I get two things from my involvement with companies like this; one, obviously, is the funding which enables me to spend my time speaking and writing about electronic disclosure; the other is input into the educational aspects in the form of their time and knowledge. This formed the bulk of my discussions with First Advantage when I met with them in London and New York, and I very much look forward to working with them, in the UK and elsewhere, to promote the cause.