One of the advantages of the pandemic is that the normalisation of remote interviews has broadened the range of people I get the chance to talk to – not just those who happen to be at the events which I attend, but pretty well anyone with something interesting to say.
Control Risks have recently started using RelativityOne through Relativity’s Germany-hosted instance; so far, they’ve transferred about 17TB of data from on-premise to RelativityOne in Germany as cloud appetite grows. I recently spoke to Lucas Clair who is Senior Consultant in EMEA Compliance, Forensics and Intelligence at Control Risks in Germany. As he explained at the start of our interview, he heads Control Risks’ forensics technology practice in German-speaking countries, managing teams, relationships, and projects in the EU and especially in the German-speaking market.
Germany is important for Control Risks as a central hub in Europe and the world. Like many of its clients, Control Risks is integrated globally, working across jurisdictions with other businesses, facing regulatory regimes whose focus stretches around the world, and conducting litigation, arbitrations and investigations which take place in and involve multiple countries.
I asked Lucas Clair how Control Risks had managed client data before the implementation of RelativityOne. They had their own custom solution, but believed in the future of the cloud. Germany had taken a little longer than some countries – such as the US – to be comfortable with the move to the cloud, but Control Risks had taken that step in the US and other jurisdictions, and appreciated the global integration, the feature richness, and the security offered by RelativityOne. They and their clients had always needed to bring people from multiple jurisdictions to work on the same matter, but that need had increased. It is not always possible to bring all the relevant data into Germany
The pandemic has increased work of all kinds. Regulators had made it clear that they would not be slackening their grip just because there was an international crisis, and organisations had looked more closely at their compliance position – not just existing issues but those emphasised by the shift to home working. The focus was as much on internal compliance as on that which is imposed by external powers.
I wondered if Control Risks’ clients had been quick to spot that the pandemic would generate new problems, not least in compliance. My own guess was that some recognised quickly that the world had changed while others were glad to be able to keep going at all. Lucas Clair said that many of Control Risks’ clients reacted quickly. There was, he said, a sense of community to some extent, with everyone in same situation. Control Risks itself learnt a great deal very quickly, and was able to take that experience out into the market where it could be useful to others.
The pandemic persuaded many German organisations , however reluctant they might have been to begin with, to take to the cloud, joining those who had already made that transition.
Data protection had inevitably become a key topic during lockdown. Germany takes data protection very seriously, and companies are keen to do the right thing. Lucas Clair referred to the recent international panel at Relativity Fest London (I wrote about it here) which had drawn attention to the historic reasons why data protection was important, and to the “gold standard” of the GDPR. Germany already knew how to manage data properly, Lucas Clair said. The pandemic had brought forward cases where it made sense to share data. It had proved possible to use data sensibly while still acknowledging data protection duties and respecting the fact that the head of legal and head of compliance would take it seriously. There were fewer people using data protection as a shield to stop getting work done (this was one of the themes also from the Relativity Fest panel referred to above).
I asked Lucas Clair how the experiences of the last year had put Control Risks in a better situation. The adoption of RelativityOne, he said, had been a driver for greater efficiency. As one example, it was no longer necessary keep going back to the client for access to the data, reducing the number of steps involved in any engagement when using tools like Relativity Collect.
This was a positive set of messages from Control Risks. The pandemic had encouraged improvements to working practices which might have taken much longer without the impetus forced by lockdown. The hard-won experience will stand Control Risks and its clients in good stead as we come out of the pandemic, with better use of technology, better practices and a more pragmatic approach to sharing data.