We recently spoke with Andrea Williams, V.P. of Technology & Emerging Solutions at Ricoh eDiscovery, about the early days of eDiscovery, the exciting changes ahead and why she believes it is essential to try new things.
1. Tell us about how you got to where you are now.
I joined the eDiscovery industry in its early days when it was all about scanning and coding — very different from where we are now. I started in sales, focused on learning the business, then transitioned to project management which was something totally new for me. The technology available at the time had a lot of limitations and wasn’t really designed for electronic evidence. We were constantly trying to find and use new technologies to solve our customers evolving challenges. I had a diverse background and am quite resourceful, so combining those attributes with my interest in technology made me excited about the evolution of this industry.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to hold several different roles within Ricoh (and formally Commonwealth Legal) which has given me a truly holistic view of the eDiscovery business. Since joining this community, new technologies have appeared and provided disruption to the market which has changed how legal professionals do their work. Having a high need for change myself, it’s been a great fit being apart of an industry that’s constantly growing and evolving.
2. What are the biggest challenges for your clients?
Having too much data! The accessibility of storage has enabled data-hoarding, and most IT teams do not have the resources or tools to effectively address it. Then, if litigation occurs, there is so much irrelevant data that comes into the scope of in-house collection. Often, the legal teams we work with really struggle to navigate these massive data sets to identify what is potentially relevant in their matter. If not handled well at the beginning to reduce the data set, this can have significant downstream impact on the review and analysis phase. Having too much data often results in a lot of frustration, as well as wasted time and money.
3. What technology or solution excites you the most about the future?
We are in a good place now, but there are still so many more valuable capabilities on the horizon. I’m thrilled to see our technology partners with more AI integration on their roadmaps. But it’s not just about making them available… they need to be made accessible so everyone can use them. Fortunately, it’s not too far in the future — it’s actually within reach. Already we’ve seen Relativity introduce automated workflows and ActiveNav launch a cloud-based solution just in the past year alone.
4. What's next for you in supporting the success of the industry?
There’s an opportunity for our industry to reach into new markets, expanding the use and application of file analysis, eDiscovery and review technologies. There are a lot of people working really hard that could be doing things a lot more efficiently, effectively and affordably.
I think other industries like finance and insurance, construction and utilities have yet to really see what’s possible from the types of solutions we offer. There’s also a lot of opportunity for smaller firms, in-house legal teams and practitioners to tap into some of these enhanced capabilities to deliver a lot more value to their organizations and their clients. Getting the word out and enabling the accessibility of these tools is something I’m passionate about. I want to empower other more clients to leverage the technologies that can help them improve how they work.
5. What advice would you have for someone working in the field?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Try using technology on a case, don’t just read about it. If that makes you uncomfortable, try it on a previous file and see how it looks. You can see how leveraging technology could have resulted in a different outcome or experience.
Embracing these solutions is not taking an unknown leap; the technologies we work with are stable and defensible. Lawyers and search terms go hand-in-hand, but there are new ways to get the job done more efficiently. Ask your case manager or litigation support team to see whether there are other angles to approach something.
I don’t think it pays to be extra conservative anymore because there are so many capabilities that can provide you with new case insights, faster access to key information and more. You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect new results.
Thank you, Andrea, for taking the time to speak to us. To learn more about Ricoh eDiscovery's solutions, visit our services page. To connect with Andrea directly, you can find her personal LinkedIn profile here.
You may also be interested in...
ActiveNav develops industry leading file analysis software that enables the discovery, transformation and ongoing control of unstructured data. Steve Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Accounts, spoke to us about his role leading ActiveNav’s commercial sales efforts.
Relativity is a full-featured eDiscovery platform We recently spoke with Chris Smith, Senior Product Manager, about his role in leading Relativity’s new Automated Workflows application: how it works, where it’s headed and what our Relativity users can look forward to.