Catelas: a Divining Rod for your Discovery Efforts


Today’s post comes to you from Matt Berg who wrote a fantastic article (here) about Catelas. Matthew Berg is the Director of IT at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, P.C., a boutique Intellectual Property firm in downtown Boston.  Matt is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has a broad background in driving and supporting emerging technologies earned over the past 18+ years while fulfilling such roles as software developer, systems integrator and program manager.

INTRODUCTION

What if a vendor told you it could boil down a client’s document discovery production to “the five people you want to focus on first”? Or even better, “two key conversations” among those five people? And all within 24 hours? Sound like something out of Leonard Nimoy’s “In Search Of”?

Catelas’ eponymous product (see here) uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the relationships between parties involved in electronic communications, as well as the critical conversations being conducted by those parties.

And all of that before the first search term or keyword is even brought into play.

EARLY CASE INTELLIGENCE (OR ASSESSMENT) IN ACTION

Catelas is in my opinion the most intriguing player in the burgeoning “early case intelligence” (aka “early case assessment”) market. Catelas provided me with the following metrics from a recent case at an AmLaw 200 firm in Boston:

•           20,000 employee client, 3 million email log entries were ingested in 2 hours

•           15 individuals were identified as ‘key custodians’

•           80 ‘hot’ documents were tagged for senior executive review

•           Early Case Intelligence Report was provided to the client within 24 hours

Catelas was able to help counsel by defensibly reducing the collection of data. After a quick review of the reduced production set, the firm’s litigation team identified some risk. Based on these findings, they devised a strategy for their client to resolve the matter early through negotiation. A process that normally might have taken weeks (or months) took about a day.

HOW EARLY CASE INTELLIGENCE FITS INTO YOUR IT ENVIRONMENT

Catelas add value at the extreme left of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). It does not necessarily replace any of the existing functions (you’ll still need products like Concordance, LiveNote, etc. to manage and review documents, email, and transcripts), but it streamlines and adds relevance to these documents, saving significant costs downstream in the discovery process.

From an identification perspective, the approach helps to identify the key custodians before collection even occurs. This early identification has obvious implications for Legal Holds (whose data to preserve). The intelligence provided via the “hot” documents identified can be used to help counsel define and agree on high level case strategy, including keyword determination, interview lists, lines of questioning, etc.

HOW CATELAS WORKS: SORT OF LIKE “LAW AND ORDER”

As we can see from the case metrics above, the value of Catelas is clearly up-front case intelligence. The claim is not so much to “find intelligence that others tools cannot find,” but to pinpoint that intelligence dramatically more quickly and more effectively than traditional methods.

So what makes Catelas different? Catelas describes its methodology as following the approach that law enforcement has used for years — linking people to the scene of a crime based on association and proximity (relationships, timelines, and locations) rather than relying on keywords to cull down the dataset. A detective would not gather 500 people within the immediate radius of a crime-scene and interview them with 10 identical questions (which is essentially the way ediscovery works through the use of keyword searching).

The technology Catelas employs to perform these analytics is based upon behavioral science and network analysis. A variety of communications data (email, telephony, SMS, IM, etc.) can be ingested, but the starting point is often email log files. All email servers have these logs, which audit every single email communication into and out of a company.

It may sound like I’m talking about terabytes or even petabytes of data, but that is not the case because these logs contain no email content. Catelas uses this metadata to construct Relationship Maps showing how people are linked. Email is not simply counted between individuals to determine the strength of a relationship. There is much more to it than that — and that is where Catelas’ “secret sauce” comes into play and the folks at Catelas start to get a bit close-mouthed.

Having identified the key people involved, based on their relationships, the collection process (native email files, cell phone records, etc.) can be precisely attuned to key individuals, timelines, and conversations. Catelas then ingests the relevant native files and identifies and tags the priority or “hot” documents as part of its Early Case Intelligence report.

It’s not called “early” case intelligence by accident. Catelas is able to go into a new client, take a copy of its log files, and have Case Intelligence Reports available within 1-2 days.

WHAT ABOUT THE COMPETITION?

In the process of researching this BigLaw column, I was unable to find any true competitors of Catelas (though maybe I’ll hear from a few after publication). There are a handful of vendors out there advertising similar functionality. For example, Fios’ Case Intelligence and LexisNexis’ Early Data Analyzer use similar language to describe some of their offerings. But to my knowledge neither uses the same approach as Catelas.

MY VERDICT

Catelas can help your litigators (and clients) become more informed, earlier in the discovery process. In a traditional model, the litigation process is iterative — intelligence is obtained piece by piece, often over a period of many months. But Catelas is fast-tracking that process to prevent surprises downstream. Its early intelligence helps to reduce risk and provide opportunities to negotiate earlier. The business model that Catelas uses is also flexible — use it on a case-by-case basis or deploy it in-house on a licensed basis. The next time you have a big discovery project (probably weekly given where you work), consider giving Catelas a test drive early in the process.

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