Thought Leader Interview with Hal Brooks of HaystackID: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

Time for another thought leader interview on eDiscovery Today!  My latest interview was with somebody with more than 25 years’ experience leading companies in legal technology and eDiscovery!

Hal Brooks is the Chief Executive Officer of Haystack Holdings with the mission of helping HaystackID mobilize industry-leading computer forensics, eDiscovery, and attorney document review experts, to accelerate and deliver quality outcomes in support of investigations and litigation at a fair and predictable price.  Hal is an eDiscovery and Litigation Technology professional with more than 25 years’ experience. Having participated in the acquisition and growth of several industry leading companies, Hal has helped businesses address challenges in the areas of litigation strategy and automated discovery processes.

In 1988, Hal started with Legal Copies International which grew to 26 cities and $100M a year in revenue as a supplier of onsite and offsite litigation support services. LCI was acquired by (Alco) Ikon Office Solutions in 1996. More recently, Hal invested in and served as a board member and consultant for such companies as OnSite Sourcing, DocuForce, Ve Discovery, Technology Assisted Review software startup Orcatec, and most recently, Envision Discovery. At these companies, he served in leadership roles helping launch revolutionary technology platforms and directing key strategic business decisions.

Hal, from your bio, it’s clear that you’ve had a lengthy and varied career in legal technology and eDiscovery. How did you get into eDiscovery in the first place, and what factors have caused you to continue to focus your career in eDiscovery?

Great question. I was actually working for a company that everybody knows called Xerox and had a meeting with one of the founding fathers of our litigation support industry, a gentleman by the name of Mark Hawn, who had a small legal copy and facilities management business based out of Atlanta, Georgia. He was in an RFP process with a major bank and needed some assistance with scoping and presenting the opportunity. So, we worked together to secure the contract, which allowed his company, LCI, to expand into 11 new markets in a matter of months. He called me literally the day after he was awarded the contract and asked me to have lunch with him and described that none of his experience was in the corporate sector and asked if I would leave Xerox and come to work for them and head up this initiative.

Over the course of the next few years, really, I just gravitated to assisting in legal and corporate growth initiatives and handling most of the initial M&A that we did in certain strategic markets, and then, after we were purchased by what most people will remember as IKON, it was called Alco Standard at the time, I stayed on for a couple of years, and ran their entire East Coast legal support business documents and facilities management enterprises.

As for why I’ve continued to focus on the industry, I guess I’d say it’s because I’ve always envisioned in some way, shape or form there could be, and should be, a better way to deliver eDiscovery services. I’m passionate about the people I work with. I’m passionate about the industry. I’m passionate about these people because they support some of the most complex and important legal and regulatory matters performed in our space each day. It’s challenging, it’s exciting to know that we make a difference in how discovery services gets executed and delivered, and I believe our industry is poised to see some evolutionary and, quite frankly, revolutionary changes to the technology developed, and actually how it’s implemented and used to perform discovery.

Certainly, your company HaystackID has been a part of those revolutionary changes, and you’ve certainly been busy on the M&A front with regular announcements about acquisitions and investments. So, can you share a little bit about your M&A background in general, and how you’re applying that background in your leadership of HaystackID?

Absolutely.  As I’ve mentioned above, I sort of tumbled into it in my early days with LCI and found, actually, that it was such a challenging event to try and convince someone to take what they had built with their blood, their sweat, and their tears, and hand it to another group to try and make more out of it together, rather than as competitors. I learned it was better to find companies that had a similar culture and leadership style, so that the integration of the two went smoothly, and the people who were the backbone of the company we acquired were confident that our company was the place for them to continue to develop their career opportunities. In the end, it’s about the people you’re acquiring who, like myself, are very passionate about this very demanding industry. We work 24/7 to provide the highest levels of client satisfaction to meet stringent deadlines, and it takes a really special personality to handle what I call organized chaos what makes up discovery services.

We’re just getting started!  Part Two of my interview with Hal Brooks will be published on Wednesday.

So, what do you think?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclosure: HaystackID is an Educational Partner and sponsor of eDiscovery Today.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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