Thought Leader Interview with Sarai Schubert of IPRO: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

Time for another thought leader interview on eDiscovery Today!  My latest interview is with a leader in eDiscovery, legal and technical operations, Sarai Schubert of IPRO!

Sarai Schubert is the Chief Operations Officer at IPRO and is responsible for overseeing Product Strategy and technical operations including Customer Success. Her teams work closely with law firms, corporations, service providers, and government agencies on software implementation and product adoption, consulting to maximize ROI and ensure success with IPRO solutions.

Sarai previously managed the eDiscovery operations at the global law firm, Latham & Watkins, LLP. In that capacity, she built the firm’s practice support in the U.S. and E.U. to support their global Litigation Department. Her team enhanced the firm’s global technology by evaluating and implementing cutting-edge IG and eDiscovery platforms and adopting new innovative workflows. Sarai assisted Corporations with the implementation of new policies and procedures related to Data Governance, eDiscovery, data management, security, and retention. Prior to Latham & Watkins, she worked at iCONECT Development and managed the technical eDiscovery operations at two Service Providers. Sarai brings a strong technical background and over 18 years of industry experience.

Doug Austin: Sarai, last July, IPRO acquired NetGovern. From your perspective, what was the attraction of combining forces with the NetGovern team and what has the combined company been able to accomplish so far, ten months later?

Sarai Schubert: Not just last year, but in the previous year, we were looking for a solution that allowed us to focus on the left side of the EDRM or Information Governance. We are always looking to do things better in eDiscovery and we had the mindset that as part of that, we wanted to focus on solving problems upstream. What was appealing for us was that NetGovern had been in the IG world for many years. As you know, the better governance you have, the easier discovery gets. It was appealing to us to get talent with that many years of experience and technology that has stood the test with Big Data. They have one particular customer that has a 6 billion record repository with multiple departments using it and collaborating for different issues, including a legal dept with over 50 attorneys in-house searching that repository and reviewing documents for internal investigations, and document requests. So, we had to ask ourselves “what are we waiting for here?” At the end of the day, having the information governance offering to deal with compliance, legal, security issues, and data management overall was a huge benefit for us. At the same time, we also envisioned focusing more of our data processing upstream doing early case assessment. The amount of data is only getting bigger and bigger, so this allowed for us to reach our vision to do more upstream.

Considering that we acquired NetGovern during a pandemic, what we’ve been able to do in ten months has been incredible. Only a few execs met in person before we went on lockdown, so the acquisition and integrating the companies had to be done virtually. But when you have two companies with the same core values, curiosity and culture, it’s incredibly easy to integrate and focus on the end goal. And within a few months, we felt as we were all part of the same company. A major accomplishment that took very little effort.

As part of that, we got the engineering teams to start focusing on how we integrate the technology and there were quite a few things we wanted to accomplish. But what we’ve done is basically create the ability to start doing things more upstream. For example, we just released our Live EDA solution, which enables you to search, analyze, and preview the data before you even start your collection. And it gives you access through a single pane of glass into multiple different sources (e.g. O365, Slack, Gmail, Exchange, etc.). Customers can do a real early data assessment and collaborate with outside counsel, allowing you to be smart about how to plan for eDiscovery. And not just eDiscovery – Live EDA expands into several other use cases as well. We’re excited that we’ve been able to deliver that and we’ve gotten such great and positive feedback. Customers were already purchasing the product and it wasn’t even out yet. That tells us we’re moving in the right direction.

Doug Austin: We hear a lot of Big Data stats that have illustrated just how much more data organizations have to address generally and within eDiscovery workflows. How do you think that has impacted how organizations address eDiscovery and what recommendations do you have for them to address the Big Data challenge?

Sarai Schubert: I think some organizations have acknowledge the need to build an IG framework and are investing the resources trying to solve this problem while, for others, it’s been really hard to tackle due to other priorities. Unstructured data is only growing, and the number of collaboration data sharing tools is only trending up. We’ve talked about it a lot and there are tons of articles and conferences with information on this topic. But even if you want to dedicate the time and effort, where do you start? When there are multiple departments involved, it’s really hard to know who owns what, so I think that’s the challenge that organizations are seeing. IT manages the infrastructure but doesn’t want to delete someone else’s data, what if it’s important? Records or Compliance want to make sure we don’t delete certain types of data that are part of a regulation, Security and Legal only see the risk exposure but who makes the decisions? But even further to that, it’s about what’s in the data, where is it, who has access to it, does it contain sensitive information. Without visibility into the data, without tools to provide direction or any kind of help at all, it’s hard to tackle. At the end of the day, you wind up spending a lot of energy but maintaining the status quo.

So, when it comes to Big Data, a lot of people think it’s somebody else’s issue to solve. Meanwhile, Legal is spending an enormous amount of time working on multiple cases and trying to cull / filter to get to the relevant data they need, IT continuous to expand resources to manage more sources of data, Security is dealing with more incidents than before. Does this sound familiar? Organizations are adding resources, but they’re spending energy that would be better spent upstream. So, my recommendation for them is to change their energy focus and start tackling the root of the problem. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s where we want to help them solve. We want to provide the tools to empower them and make it easier to build that IG framework they need. Our goal is to help organizations surface that information and assist them with this process. I also think service providers, our partners, can help a lot here. They have the capacity to really help organizations, whether assisting with a case or helping them to manage their data overall. They know how to manage data well, is the core of their business. And it’s an area that I hope we can all do our part and look to overcome the challenge rather than keeping the status quo, because it’s not getting any easier.

We’re just getting started! Part Two of my interview with Sarai Schubert 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: IPRO 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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