National law firm Drinker Biddle recently used analytics to predict and prevent misconduct before it happened. Bennett Borden, co-chair of the information governance initiative and chief data scientist of Drinker Biddle, the first C-level “lawyer turned data scientist” in the legal industry, encountered this case with a publicly-traded company and a nefarious senior executive.
The details of the case include a senior executive at a publicly traded company that who fired for underperforming. On his way out, the executive made a serious accusation that the company was falsifying financial records. Instead of waiting for a formal complaint to be filed, Drinker Biddle conducted an internal investigation of the company using relativity analytics to see if it could discover the truth.
The entire investigation took only seven days, thanks to Drinker Biddle’s usage of relativity analytics. In fact, on day four, by using features like cluster visualizations and email threading, Drinker Biddle could prove that the whistleblower had falsified his claim by uncovering incriminating emails between the executive and his wife, causing the opposing counsel to drop the case. But due to the serious allegations of falsifying financial records, the company had to prove to outside auditors that their financial records were legitimate. On day seven, Drinker Biddle was able to prove that there were no accounting irregularities, eliminating the need for a costly outside audit.
So the company was able to shut down a potentially harmful case before it started and prove the legitimacy of their client’s legal records in just seven days, saving their client an estimated $270,000-plus in legal fees in the process.
According to Borden, time was of the essence as the company was approaching deadlines on a reporting period and the company’s outside auditor was on-site conducting its audit. If true, the allegations might have affected the company’s financial statements. So, it was imperative that Borden and his team determine whether the allegations had any merit. They conducted a 360-degree investigation, pulling email and documents from the departing executive, his peers, superiors and direct reports. In addition, they identified the development of the accounting issue from its inception through time, uncovering how the data for the accounting was gathered, analyzed and reported.
“As we traced the history of the accounting, we began to discover discrepancies in the departing executive’s allegations,” explained Borden. “The executive claimed he had reported concerns about the accounting issue in meetings on specific dates and had provided email and documents purporting to support this. We could determine that many of these emails and documents had been falsified, with dates changed and content added at a later date. In the end, we were able to show that all of the allegations were fabricated.”
Once Drinker Biddle uncovered the falsified documents, it laid the results of its investigation before the auditors. It walked them through the history of the accounting, and could prove that the data on which is was based was accurate, and the final accounting appropriate.
Borden added, “In the end, the data, once uncovered and properly analyzed, spoke for itself, as it usually does.”
Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for Corporate Counsel and InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more.