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.

Insider Trading: “The Circle of Friends”


The FBI continues to escalate their crackdown on Wall Street with their latest bust on hedge fund portfolio managers and analysts. This week seven friends have been charged with running a $62million insider trading scheme (see here).

The seven charged worked for five different hedge funds and investment firms and reaped nearly $62million in illegal profits on trades in Dell Inc, the prosecutors said.

This is eerily similar to the Galleon case and should not come as a surprise. There are numerous white collar crime cases where friends have been working in cahoots with one another. The Russian trader at UBS using “potato code” also springs to mind.
The fact is (and Catelas has been saying this for over 3 years now) that criminals cannot work in complete isolation. They need to work with trusted accomplices. Trust is gained through the building of relationships. And, it is unlikely that you will commit a crime with someone you do not trust, someone with which you have a tight bond, or strong relationship.
That is why at Catelas our fundamental premise is uncovering relationships. Our assumption is that a “circle of friends” committing a crime will not necessarily provide incriminating evidence in a email exchange. Sometimes people do make mistakes, but the thing that links these individuals is the communication exchanges they had (email, cell phone, SMS, IM, etc) lomg before the crime was committed. During the time these relationships were getting stronger. In fact, often we find that communications go “radio silent” leading up to the crime.
So our approach is rooted in Behavioral Science – we uncover communication patterns that mimic what behavioral science calls “shared experiences”. Its similar to going on a weekend camping outing with friends. Here a group of people participate in a shared experience (ie camping). After the weekend, this group will by definition have a stronger bond, having participated in a shared experience. Catelas has been able to apply this same approach to everyday business (and personal) communications. I cannot share the details of how we do it, but the results are astounding.
Our Relationship Analytics approach is used to first identify the people involved in or close to a particular investigation or case. These relationships leads us to critical conversations (topic or timeline related), which enables us to point the investigation, with laser focus, to the relevant people and the relevant documents.
The next time you are working a case and your question is: “Who else might be involved?”, think trusted relationships. For more information take a look at our website or contact me.
Rob.
(robert.levey@catelas.com)

“When Preservation Requests Are Wielded as Weapons” by Craig Ball


My blog today comes directly from a post Craig Ball wrote this week for LawTechNews here. When Craig puts pen to paper it is definitely worth reading. Here is an excerpt that caught my attention:-

“The rallying cry is that plaintiffs have begun to “weaponize” preservation. That is, plaintiffs are demanding preservation of electronically stored information with such breadth that corporations are settling just to avoid the cost of finding and protecting their own discoverable data.”

Craig goes on to say… Corporate counsel vilify preservation: “The plaintiffs demand that we preserve everything, and we’re spending millions doing so.” If plaintiffs’ settlement demands don’t establish the value of their claims, why should plaintiffs’ preservation demands set the bar for preservation?

He underlines his point with…  “typically, plaintiffs’ actions mirror the same fear and lack of sophistication that spur defendants to over-preserve. Uncertain where relevant evidence resides, plaintiffs demand preservation of every place it might be. Equally uncertain and irrationally afraid of the outlier jurist, defendants say “okay” when they should say “no way.”

This irrational fear is craziness. It is time to stand up and be counted. It all comes down to preserving what is reasonable and having a defensible methodology to demonstrate reasonableness.

The problem is we are dealing with unknowns – we are not certain who is involved or where the evidence might be found, so we take the cautious route of over-preserving… at Catelas we are paving the way in providing attorneys the help they need to say NO WAY! We are using technology to help attorneys present a diligent, comprehensive way to better define the scope of preservation. Invariably this means a rational (and defendable) way of saying “NO, your preservation demands are waaaayyyyy to broad…. and this is why…”

Take a look here if you are interested in learning more about how we do it.

Are you concerned about Social Media litigation?


This article by Kate Hodgkiss about avoiding Social Media Lawsuits provides some common sense advice for companies navigating the potential pitfalls of what their employees say on Facebook, Twitter et al. Another one I read was by Stacy Gulik titled “Think Before You Tweet: Risks Health Care Professionals Face With Social Media”.  She talks about the risks that Doctors (and others) face when tweeting about medical information or their profession in general. Then there was this spoliation charge of $700,000 for the destruction of Facebook pages.

Virtually every business in the world should be concerned about what their employees are tweeting about or posting on Facebook as it relates to their business. And the litigation is certainly heating up.

I used to say to my employees “don’t write in an email what you don’t want your boss to read or what you would not want to be read back to you in court”. Well the same is becoming true of social media. Companies have to deal with social media whether they like it or not – with about a billion Facebook users, I think its a fair guess to say social media is here to stay and is rapidly infusing corporate life. From the Medical Doctor who blogs about “her day in the office” to the disgruntled employee who Facebook’s a picture of his company’s “crappy working conditions”.

This is not to say that we have to come up with brand new answers to these issues. Just like when office email first arrived, employees needed training and guidance – eg “never send an email when you are angry, or sleep on it”. What is different is that the current generation of employees has been brought up in a world of “one to everyone”, instant communications. When we hit the post or publish button, it’s gone instantly. There is no permanently delete button. And the message did not just go to internal employees, it went to the world. Someone has likely read it and saved a copy of what was said, before the individual has had a chance to erase the “mistake”.

Clearly for some companies this is a bigger concern than it is for others and every company will embrace social media slightly differently. Because the root of what we do at Catelas is about people and their relationships, how people are interacting on social media is of huge interest to us. Just as it is not possible to collect and review every document in a litigation case today, the proverbial haystack has just become exponentially larger with social media. It is never going to be practical to collect and review everything posted on the social media.  But if you can quickly isolate the people involved and limit the search to only those people that are relevant, then following their social media footprints, has just become a whole lot easier. Of course good corporate policies and employee education never hurts.

How is your company or your clients handling what its employees are saying on social media?

Webinar Series – Are you spending too much on Legal Settlement Costs?


This week I am reaching out to in-house General Counsel with this simple question – are you spending too much on Legal Settlement costs?

Whether a legal matter goes to trial or settles before trial, the negotiations surrounding the scope of discovery still take place. The Catelas assertion is that the scope of discovery is invariably too broad, because we are not certain about ‘who is involved’ and ‘what actually happened’. So we over-collect. Now, even if the case does not go to trial, the Anticipated Cost of Discovery (ACD) is higher than it should be, creating an artificially high ceiling for a settlement negotiation.

Catelas is holding a webinar series over the next few weeks, starting Tues 8th November at 12pm for 40 minutes to discuss this topic in more detail. Join us by registering here.

Early Case Assessment and The Cloud


A few weeks ago I wrote about the Early Case Assessment Trap and today as I was following the goings-on at the annual ACC get-together, it reminded me of our legal industry buzz-words and how vendors constantly re-invent themselves around the latest buzz. No doubt this week “cloud” will be hot  and “ECA” will still be generating a lot of noise.

The way I see ECA being applied is that the C stands for Cost not Case. Opposing Counsels get together and agree the scope of discovery based on the anticipated cost of the “document hit count” arising out of the agreed keyword terms.

Now granted, this is an over-simplification of a complex legal process and sure ECA means many things to many people. But, what we are not seeing is good, honest work being done in the early stages of a case to truly understand things like, who is involved, what is the company risk or exposure, is their sufficient evidence, what action should we be taking?

“Early Cost/Case Assessment” can quite easily become a template for “how much is this going to cost us” and “can we settle for less”.

At Catelas, because of the “buzz-word effect” which tends to make all vendors appear equal, we have shied away from calling ourselves an Early Case Assessment solution, for this very reason. We prefer to be thought of as Early Case Intelligence, where we endeavor to answer these key questions – who is involved, what was said and what action should the company take? We are trying to provide real, upfront intelligence to the client that helps them make smart decisions about the case, going forward. At then end of the day, Counsel does not want to be surprised with a “gotcha” six months into the case. Our mission is to ensure that Counsel gets “One Step Ahead” by providing key intelligence about the case within the first couple of days.

So this year at the ACC Annual Meeting, Early Case Intelligence may not [yet] be an industry buzz-word, but watch this space…

If you want to find out more check out this preso

Internal Investigations continue to rise


The latest Fulbright & Jaworski Litigation Trends Survey is out – slightly less litigation in 2011 compared to 2010, yet the cost of litigation per company rose. However, regulatory actions and internal investigations are climbing.

The report also reveals that whistle-blowers remain a concern in the coming year stating that one-quarter of respondents anticipate an increase in the number of claims or lawsuits brought by whistle-blowers next year. This year, 22% of respondents said their organizations were subjected to whistle-blower allegations. I suspect that this percentage has been increasing steadily over the last few years, but 25% !!! That certainly registers on the “take-notice” meter.

I also listened to a TechLaw10 podcast #42 this week, where Jonathan Armstrong was talking about the many challenges of internal investigations… more regulations, businesses being more global, more value on corporate data, more employee turnover. This last one certainly resonated – the work force of today statistically averages 2.2 years per company, a far cry from our Dads’ generation when jobs were for life. Whether people today are stealing corporate secrets more than they were before is not the issue; but the chance of this happening is significantly higher simply because people move around more and it is much easier to ‘take’ secret data with you.

All put together, I sense the perfect storm brewing to corroborate this trend of increasing investigations.

So to the people who actually have to do the work and respond to this trend, my question is how are you coping? In this economy it is not simply a case of asking General Counsel for a bigger budget – more people and more technology. It’s more complicated than that. It requires putting together a well thought out “mini-business plan” – what are the key areas of focus, how do you prioritize investigations, when and how do you deploy resources (locally and internationally), what policies and processes do you have to train and educate employees, etc. And of course if additional resources are required they need to be justified via an ROI calculation. This last piece is absolutely key – coming from the sales side, believe me, sales commission are directly proportional to a customer’s ROI.

Faced with an increase in internal investigations, the key is to use technology to your advantage – at Catelas, we are all about upfront intelligence – arming you with the facts about a case as early as possible, so that you can prioritize your investigations, spending time on the important, not the trivial, one’s, collecting only the relevant data specific to that investigation and thereby saving time and cost per investigation.

If you are interested in learning more, look here.

A new age of Whistle-Blowers


I read an interesting article last week by Joelle Scott about the “secret” whistle-blower at BNY Mellon. It turns out that Grant Wilson was the undercover whistle-blower who detailed how the bank had allegedly overcharged investors in their currency trades and defrauded investors for years.

This from the article… “So what is shocking about the BNY whistleblower is not that he exists but rather that he worked in conjunction with attorneys, regulators and fraud heroes to provide evidence for a massive lawsuit against his employer (the Justice Department and the NY Attorney General are seeking over $2billion from the bank).  This is almost as shocking as when the government used wiretaps to confirm and reveal the enormous insider-trading ring orchestrated by Raj Rajaratnam and his cohorts.”

In a shady world of fraud and corruption, law enforcement is to be applauded for making inroads by planting undercover agents into corporations or getting increased help from insiders.

But coming from the Information Security business, it does make me think about the people we work with that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Not if they are potential whistle-blowers, but the opposite. Are any of these colleagues working on the dark-side: do they have relationships with corrupt organizations, are they providing sensitive information to competitors? Do they have relationships that might be harmful to the company? Bar a cursory background check when an employee enters a company, the truth is, we really don’t know.

Worse, we only potentially find out once a crime has been committed, long after the horse has bolted from the stable.

And that is why Catelas is all about Relationships – it all comes down to ‘who you know’.

What’s the next Killer App?


I have been in the hi-tech arena for around 20 years and most companies that I have worked for have spent large chunks of time trying to answer this question. When I was at Nokia around Y2K, “the” app was a digital camera on the phone, quickly followed by email. We also strategized about convergence of fixed and mobile, about the mobile phone as a credit card and command prompts using voice recognition.

At a company dinner last week we were trying to predict the “future” for computing. For instance, how long will the good old “qwerty” keyboard be around in its current form factor? Kids today oscillate their digits around a tiny input screen at a furious pace. They have learned this dexterity largely by playing “rapid-touch” games on their iPods and smart-phones. Heck, kids would rather text each other across a room (20 times in 5 minutes) than dare stand up and engage in face-to-face conversations. The elegant touch typist with a straight back is a bygone era.

I am sure many people much smarter than me are already figuring out the impact that Generation Z will have on the corporate work-force. But the impact will be massive since this generation will have survived adolescence with Facebook, iPads and the rest. They will also be far more demanding of technology than my generation was and certainly not over-awed by it.

Our Catelas dinner discussion might not have uncovered the next “killer app”, but we did speak about “personalized data”. In our world of data discovery, the current buzz is Big Data, which means crunching even more disparate datasets with faster processors. But this cannot be the answer. Surely, our data searches need to become more intelligently attuned with the individual  – we need to understand the individual before we “search the universe”; otherwise the search becomes impossibly big or we cut the parameters of the search so much that we exclude a lot of important stuff.

So the mathematical algorithms start getting infused with behavorial one’s – how the human thinks and behaves has a pivotal bearing on the type of data searched or retrieved. In eDiscovery the Catelas approach first identifies the relevant Custodians by uncovering “‘how they behave”, which then leads us to “what they say”. This has to be a smarter approach than simply guessing “what they said” which is the whole basis for keyword searching. It may sound complicated, but its analogous to the way law enforcement solves crimes…..

If there was a shooting in New York, the police officers would not round up thousands of people in a 5 mile radius of the scene, load them into a stadium and interview them all with the same 10 (or 1,000) questions. That is the big data approach. No, they would ask relationship-type questions of the key people at the scene – who was with the victim, did anyone see the assailant, etc. This link analysis approach identifies ‘who is involved’ BEFORE it starts looking for the ‘what’ (the smoking gun), thereby reducing the scope of data to only what is relevant, at the outset.

What is your industry’s next “killer app”?

 

What does an MRI and Enterprise Risk have in common?


Do you remember the days of X-rays when a GP would hide behind a screen and a huge puff of smoke would erupt from some weird-looking industrial type camera. Bygone days when surgeons operated with precious little knowledge about the patient’s condition. Risky business!

Today surgeons make use of sophisticated MRI’s, endoscopes and the like to perform key-hole surgery. Not only do they pinpoint the exact cause of the ailment before they operate, but the corrective procedures are conducted in a fraction of the time.

I use this MRI analogy for the work we are doing at Catelas. As I mentioned in my Gaping Hole in the EDRM post a week ago, what we do is provide Early Case Intelligence about a matter before the ‘operation’ of collection, processing and review takes place. Like a surgeon today, who would NOT conduct an MRI before operating on the patient?

Likewise, in the area of Compliance, specifically for Financial Services, we provide comprehensive surveillance of Information Barriers and Watch Lists. Because we can monitor an entire company’s communications patterns pro-actively, the company is leaving nothing to chance.

And just like a surgeon who knows how to read an MRI, we can immediately uncover enterprise risk that prompts the Compliance Officer to take further action.

My key point here about Enterprise Risk is that companies in many ways are operating like the surgeons of old – they do not have MRI’s to help them pinpoint precisely where the risks are. In eDiscovery or Compliance this is the role Catelas plays – helping you assess the risk before you start a widespread and costly collection and review operation.