Tom O’Connor, Why I joined Advanced Discovery

Monday, January 26, 2015

I joined Advanced Discovery January 12th, and as I get ready for another LegalTech show in New York, I’ve been calling friends and colleagues to tell them of my new position. The most common question I get is “What made you decide to join Advanced Discovery?” So I thought this would be a good forum to explain why I made this choice.

I’d previously worked with several of the Advanced Discovery executives on projects: people such as Rick Hutchinson and Shimmy Messing, who I’ve always known as technology leaders in the eDiscovery profession. And more recently, I’ve seen the company emphasis on not just technology but also services and workflow leading to expanded growth and opportunities.

My own consulting experience primarily involves complex litigation matters for AmLaw 100 firms and Fortune 50 corporations, where I’ve implemented systems to acquire, process, review, share and produce electronic documents. I’ve been appointed as a technical consultant on various cases dealing with large volumes of electronic evidence, both federal and state. Two of the more prominent are the BP oil spill MDL venued in my hometown of New Orleans and various phases of the Enron case, which is often considered the first high profile case involving ESI.

In consulting work, I am often called upon to assist clients in database design, implementation and training as well as eDiscovery-specific issues such as retention policies, litigation holds and document exchange protocols. The last item has become more and more prominent as concerns about native files, document stores and ESI containers have led to increasingly complex arguments between parties about how best to identify, collect and exchange ESI with opposing counsel. Some of my most complex projects have involved discussing those concerns and negotiating exchange protocols between my clients and our opponents, often under the supervision of the court or a special master.

People who know me know that I’m a people person. And by that I don’t mean a bubbly, cheery hail-fellow-well-met sort of guy but rather one who puts people first when evaluating any situation. Technology is great but it’s a tool, and the key to any process is not the tools but the craftsmen. As I said in a blog post as far back as 2009, it’s the archer not the arrow.

And Advanced Discovery recognizes that distinction. At my first company meeting, I heard Cory Flynn, vice president of processing, say that the company focus was threefold: technology, services and workflow. I’ve heard a lot of tech people speak about technology and a few that mention services. I’ve heard only a handful talk about workflow: how people actually use their tools.

It’s that emphasis that made me want to join the team. Because it’s that emphasis that leads to solutions. As my old friend Attorney Russ Aoki, the national technical liaison for the Federal Defenders, said to me once, “Tom, anyone can tell me what my problem is. You listen to what I say and then give me solutions.” Advanced Discovery believes that.

And of course, in addition to my consulting, I’ll be speaking at major legal conferences and writing for national legal publications, doing this weekly blog here and continuing with educational efforts at events such as the Georgetown eDiscovery Training Academy. As they used to say in the early days of the ABA TechShow when I was a Planning Board member, “lawyers helping lawyers.”

A line in the Advanced Discovery company description says it best, “We believe it takes more than software to effectively manage and deliver data. We have combined the right technology with the right people to make the process as efficient as possible.”

And that’s why I‘m excited that I joined the Advanced Discovery team.



Senior eDiscovery Consultant
Advanced Discovery

Tom O’Connor is nationally known as a consultant, speaker and writer. In his consulting work, Tom specializes in working with law firms and their corporate clients to manage their electronic discovery needs. As senior eDiscovery consultant for Advanced Discovery, he assists clients in database design, implementation and training. He also addresses specific eDiscovery issues such as retention policies, litigation holds and document exchange protocols. Tom speaks at major legal conferences and writes for both the Advanced Discovery blog and national legal publications.



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