From Big Law to Legal Tech, DISCO's New CINO Sees E-Discovery Renaissance

May 8th, 2019

DISCO's first chief innovation officer says eager investors in legal tech, ballooning data created by lawyers’ clients, and a greater need for advanced analytics are fueling e-discovery's renaissance.

These days, individuals and businesses are leaving a larger digital footprint through the growing use of emails, apps and internet-connected devices. In response, e-discovery vendors are entering a new frontier of leveraging advanced technology and expanding their solutions beyond just e-discovery, said Catherine “Cat” Casey, DISCO’s first chief innovation officer.

On Tuesday, Casey joined the e-discovery company after nearly three years at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher where she served as global director of the firm’s e-discovery and practice technology team. She said she left Gibson Dunn because the legal market was reaching an “inflection point” with advanced technology and she wanted to shepherd a company through the “next chapter of e-discovery.”

The 15-year e-discovery veteran joined DISCO because of the company’s use of advanced technology and its trajectory. Her hire comes roughly four months after DISCO announced it raised $83 million in investments. At the time, DISCO CEO Kiwi Camara said the company intended to expand its solutions beyond e-discovery with CaseBuilder, a workflow product.

Casey discusses how the eagerness among investors for legal tech, the ballooning data created by lawyers’ clients, and a greater need for advanced analytics are ushering in the new chapter in e-discovery.

The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Legaltech News: Do e-discovery platforms have to expand their capabilities beyond e-discovery to stay relevant to lawyers’ needs?

Catherine “Cat” Casey: It’s a natural evolution. If you look at people’s roles that are in e-discovery, they don’t actually say e-discovery, they are involved with case management, data governance. As data becomes more central and pivotal to business … those sort of practices and procedures are expanding into dealing with how to structure data [and] how to manage that data.

It’s a need of the legal industry to have that one-stop solution that will handle all aspects of lawyers’ day-to-day [needs]. Step one is CaseBuilder, but there’s a long path forward. I think companies understand attorneys need an ally as they navigate their evolving role to help them embrace technology. It’s less about staying relevant for the provider and more about one-sizing the solution that is offered for the attorney and matching what they need.

What are those new needs lawyers are facing now?

Those evolving needs are an ability to look into a variety of data, whether it’s from applications, laptops, an Alexa or Fitbits. Attorneys need tools and guides to navigate the evolving way people are communicating.

Do you see more e-discovery providers offering more solutions outside of e-discovery?

Yes, I think because the needs of attorneys are evolving because there is so much data and if a legal technology company wants to continue to evolve and adapt with the needs of an attorney they will have to adapt.

What’s driving that new appetite for change in legal?

What I’ve seen in the last 18 months [is] the individual proprietary tools that are being invested in. You see a massive injection of capital into the cloud-based providers. There’s an appetite for better and faster [technology] that has never been seen before and is in part being driven by the massive amount of data even in small cases.

Historically, how we have done things won’t be enough [to understand a lot of data]. You have to use advanced technology, and I feel the interest is driven by understanding that the needs of attorneys and buyers of e-discovery have become bigger and more complex and more challenging. And the companies that can [meet those needs] are the ones you are seeing getting a lot of funding because there’s a lot of consultants scouring across the e-discovery space and picking the providers that are best positioned not just to merge but to continue innovating and match the evolving obligations that law is facing.