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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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?

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

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.


Is there a gaping hole in the EDRM?


Firstly, with all due respect to Mr George Socha, I am not about to poke a stick at the validity of the much hallowed ERDM. The eDiscovery business continues to be well guided by it, but…. are we missing something?

Three years ago when I entered the world of eDiscovery, which by the way was at LegalTech 2009, a term Early Case Assessment (ECA) was all the rage. As someone who had come from the world of Information Security this made a lot of sense to me. I asked a lot of questions and while ECA meant many things to different people, for the most part it was a process for ‘getting one’s ducks in a row’   (getting organized) before the humdrum of following Mr Socha’s ERDM took place.

Very soon ECA was part of every vendor’s offering. In fact vendors re-invented themselves around ECA with many variations such as “we will pre-review your data using the assigned keywords and only charge you for the culled data”. But is something wrong here?

ECA seems to have become a cost assessment or financial calculator – ie “using these keywords we will cull down 300gig to 50gig in a linear fashion so that we achieve a manageable dataset to review”. It sounds terribly mathematical to me and somewhat contrived.

My observation is that the “intelligence” of ECA has been lost. A critical component of ECA should be to help attorney’s quickly assess the case, but I mean strategically assess it, not tactically. Understand if this is a case that could seriously expose the company. Get under the hood and understand whether you need a new engine or an oil change…. before you start negotiating how much it will cost to fix!

At Catelas we use the term “Early Case Intelligence” which does just that, we get under the hood. Maybe it will catch on, but we hope it fills a gap at the start of a case that answers the strategic questions (defend or settle) rather than simply the tactical one’s.

Let me know what you think.