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Drinker Discovery Subsidiary Sees Leadership ChangesDrinker Biddle & Reath's year-old e-discovery subsidiary has seen some shake-up in its leadership in recent months with the head of the subsidiary on the law firm side leaving two months after the firm hired a duo to run the e-discovery practice.
2013-07-16 12:00:00 AM
Drinker Biddle & Reath's year-old e-discovery subsidiary has seen some shake-up in its leadership in recent months with the head of the subsidiary on the law firm side leaving two months after the firm hired a duo to run the e-discovery practice.
In May, Drinker Biddle hired to the law firm litigation and information governance partners Bennett B. Borden and Jay Brudz from Williams Mullen.
The pair was hired as co-leaders of the firm's information governance and e-discovery practice group as well as officers of the Chicago-based subsidiary Drinker Discovery Solutions (DDS). They work with DDS Managing Director Michael J. Boland.
On July 2, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith announced that it had hired Thomas A. Lidbury to its Chicago office. Lidbury was the head of Drinker Biddle's data management and discovery group and a founder of DDS.
Drinker Biddle had launched DDS around May 2012 and officially announced its formation in September of last year.
Lidbury said last week he didn't want to comment on what Drinker Biddle is doing in light of his departure. He said only that he went to Lewis Brisbois "to do trial work for a good client of mine that wanted me to move firms." Lidbury said he would handle some e-discovery matters at his new firm but mainly focus on litigation.
DDS's Boland said Brudz and Borden focus their practice on information governance, with e-discovery being a component of that. He said they advise clients on data from a risk, cost and value standpoint, not just how to deal with it in the course of litigation. Boland said the duo, who created an e-discovery and information governance practice at their old firm, was attracted to Drinker Biddle because it already had the subsidiary up and running.
Borden and Brudz will "put some new life into" DDS, Boland said. "They have a vested interest in the success of the subsidiary."
As part of their work with DDS, Borden and Brudz are charged with bringing new revenue into the subsidiary, Boland said. The other component is having "senior-level partner-to-partner conversations to build more support internally for the subsidiary as well," Boland said. While he is managing director of DDS, Boland said he is still on the staff side and can't have the same impact in pitching DDS to partners as other partners can.
"We were missing that from a leadership standpoint, frankly," Boland said.
He said the new leadership can do a lot to both grow support internally and bring clients into the subsidiary.
Lidbury said in response that he wishes Drinker Biddle well in whatever the firm's plans are moving forward.
"I'm no longer interested in selling gigabyte processing and have moved on to do traditional legal work instead," Lidbury said.
Building a subsidiary to the point where it has partner buy-in and a steady revenue stream can take some time. DDS has been up and running for about a year and a half. Boland said it has made great strides in that time to improve the technology and work out any technological or process kinks. Boland said it took about two years at his old firm, Winston & Strawn, to create a similar model. And he said revenue streams operate on a similar schedule.
Attorneys often expect software to be plugged in and be immediately operational, Boland said. But he noted there are a lot of moving parts that must fall into place before revenue starts coming in.
"Partners are rightfully protective of client relationships and want to make sure it works before they put clients in front of it," Boland said.
The "water cooler talk" at Drinker Biddle is starting to shift, Boland said, from questioning whether DDS can get up and running to noticing DDS's successes.
According to the Drinker Biddle press release announcing their hire, Borden and Brudz served as co-chairmen of the electronic discovery and information governance section of Williams Mullen.
Borden focuses his practice on e-discovery and information governance and conducts both offensive and defensive discovery in litigation cases. He also counsels clients on the establishment of information governance and records management policies and regularly advises his client base on data privacy, security and regulatory compliance.
Prior to joining Williams Mullen, Borden was in private practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He was the founder and executive director of Sign Language Consultants and served for a time as an interpreter coordinator for the Central Intelligence Agency. Borden is chairman of the Internet relationships and cloud computing committee and vice chairman of the e-discovery and digital evidence committee of the American Bar Association's Science and Technology Law Section.
In addition to managing e-discovery in large-scale litigation, Brudz advises clients on the building and management of discovery operations and helps them address internal compliance and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations and develop information governance best practices.
Before entering private practice, Brudz worked in-house for General Electric Co. as senior counsel in legal technology, where he created and led the corporate discovery center, which supported more than 1,200 lawyers. Brudz was responsible for all corporate technology initiatives within GE's legal operation. He has held other positions in GE, including e-commerce counsel and transactions attorney for GE Industrial Systems. He has also worked as a Web-based application architect and a computer forensic examiner.
DDS was formed with an eye toward offering less expensive e-discovery management to the law firm's clients as well as to serve non-law firm clients.
Lidbury said in September that the point of starting the subsidiary was to own the technology and control the costs for clients.
He had said a number of corporations were looking to bring this function in-house because of the high cost of e-discovery vendors.
"But as a firm we can make the purchase and leverage it across the client base," Lidbury had said. "We can make it once for them and then they all have access to it."
Drinker Biddle spent "millions" of dollars on buying the technology and software and staffing the subsidiary, Lidbury and Boland had said. The law firm essentially converted its litigation support staff into the staff of the subsidiary.
The reason the firm created a subsidiary as opposed to bringing the work into the law firm was that it wanted to be able to serve as nationwide e-discovery counsel to large companies that might otherwise be conflicted out of using Drinker Biddle for legal services, Lidbury had said.