Sam Farley is a Senior Consultant at FTI Consulting in London. I went to see him to find out how corporate clients are approaching the use of electronic disclosure tools and skills.
The traditional model was that clients instructed lawyers in a discrete matter – a litigation case or a regulatory intervention, perhaps – and the lawyers then instructed consultants like FTI as necessary to deal with the management of electronic data.
That, Sam Farley says, is changing – it is not just litigation any more and the instructions are no longer coming only from lawyers. Organisations are gaining greater control over the process as a whole and coming to FTI for longer-term organisational and pre-emptive advice and not just for a specific case or matter.
As I put it, FTI is not just the fire engine coming to deal with a blaze, but is helping clients understand how to anticipate the fire and to minimise its scope when it happens. Extending this analogy, Sam Farley said that FTI is “installing more fire alarms now”.
The relationship with clients is now more collaborative. It might start with information governance, helping organisations get closer control of their data. The changed attitude is not just reaction to regulation and not just for control of cost and risk. Clients are seeking out the value in the data.
One of the drivers has been improved technology in, for example, RelativityOne or Ringtail. The core processes are easier to use – clients can load and process data with simple clicks, and do not need the pressure of an urgent matter as incentive to do something.
The collaborative relationship which has developed means that FTI has a better understanding of the clients’ business needs. FTI also knows the new functions and abilities of software, and is able to suggest how new tools might be applied to the clients’ problems – often ones going beyond the conventional idea of eDiscovery. Increasingly, the ideas are coming from the clients themselves.
I asked Sam Farley where these developments were going to take us. Interestingly, he sees the next stage is being the opening up of the market as smaller organisations follow in the steps of larger ones, for example in the use of advanced analytics.
Part of my motive for talking to younger consultants like Sam Farley is to encourage others to consider a career in eDiscovery / eDisclosure and in the subjects which surround them. What makes Sam’s days interesting?
The developments which he had described, he said, had led to a different kind of working day – instead of being deeply committed to three or four matters, he was touching many more at a high-level as the clients were developing their own strategies. There was, he said, “a lot of fun to be had” in a working day which was varied, involved contact with different investigations and people, and encouraged new ways to use the software tools.