The acquisition of Unified OS by Inventus brought together two discovery players as a major global force for reducing costs and increasing efficiency in legal processes. Trevor Campion and Paul Mankoo share the impetus for joining the firms and discuss the significance that the new Spotlight analytics software lends to strategic decision-making. Their remarks have been edited for length and style.
MCC: It was a year ago this month that Chicago-based Inventus announced the acquisition of London-based Unified OS, bringing together two of the world’s leading discovery firms. For our readers who may not be familiar with the transaction, please tell us what brought you together and how the integration of the companies into a global LPO practice is benefiting corporate law departments and the outside counsel who work with them.
Campion: As our customers evolved from law-firm-driven structures to corporate-legal-department relationships, the issues our clients were facing were becoming more global and complex. Our clients were demanding that we be able to support them abroad so they could leverage their investment with Inventus more effectively. As we looked at the European market, London was a logical place for us to start, and it became apparent right away that there was already a premium provider in the form of Unified. As I got to know Paul and Noel Kilby, the founders and owners of the business, we realized that there were incredible cultural synergies and, to some extent, customer synergies that we thought would, under a combined scenario, deliver a significant value in the marketplace.
The genesis for the acquisition was to expand the Inventus footprint and establish an international base with a premium provider that shared our passion for using technology to disrupt and displace the legal-process-outsourcing market.
Mankoo: The same was true from our side. Our client base was predominantly corporation-focused rather than law-firm-focused. They were very happy with the work that we were doing in Europe and beyond into the eastern reaches of the world, however as global corporations, they needed support to the same level in North America and westward. That allied with our view of what was coming in the market, in terms of the consolidation and the global players that would emerge, which made us think about the best strategic plan to fulfill the requirements of those clients. There was a lot of synergy between the way the two companies did things, and so logically and practically, Inventus was a very suitable partner.
Campion: And the outcome has had benefits that greatly exceeded our expectations. Today as an international global provider of these services, we really differentiate ourselves against most of the U.S.-based and European-centric businesses. There are only a handful of e-discovery companies that operate with as large an international footprint as we do. We have an extraordinary competitive advantage there. Important for us, we added a service line that we historically had not offered in the U.S. in the form of temporary attorney review staffing. Unified operates under a compelling model that we think is truly unique, and we are looking forward to launching the same type of offering here in the U.S.
MCC: Can you tell us what role Clearlake Capital played in the combination, and what its continuing role is as an investor in Inventus? Is Clearlake’s involvement helping to drive your expansion strategy?
Campion: On a go-forward basis, Clearlake is no longer part of the equity structure here. We sold 100 percent of the interest in Inventus to RPX Corporation and closed that transaction in January of this year. However, prior to that they were an important piece of the puzzle, in that they provided acquisition due diligence resources, acted as a strategic sounding board and provided extraordinary access to capital for us.
Today we are operating as a wholly owned independent subsidiary of our parent company, RPX, which is a publicly traded business that focuses on using technology to disrupt and improve efficiencies in the patent space.
MCC: Tell us about your newest product, Spotlight, and the impetus behind its development. What problem did you envision solving? Did the combined companies collaborate on Spotlight, or did its development predate the deal?
Campion: Spotlight is our most recent software development effort and is a business analytics dashboard developed specifically for in-house legal departments. As we look at corporate legal departments and the way they manage their outsourcing, one of the things that becomes readily apparent is that they are managing a very wide vendor pool with a very unpredictable cost base. Litigation by definition is unpredictable – fees associated with everything from outside counsel to attorney review to data costs can vary widely. As we looked at that problem, we thought it would be compelling if we could develop an application that allowed our clients to have real-time visibility and real-time metrics into all facets of outsourcing, and real-time updates regarding progress across the entire legal portfolio.
The development effort was a combined initiative between Inventus and Unified, and the businesses are fully integrated now. It has been developed on the technology foundation we acquired as part of the Kooby acquisition we completed early last year.
MCC: As a stand-alone application capable of integrating data from an array of sources, including Relativity and other third-party applications, Spotlight provides what you call “a visual portfolio of key discovery metrics.” Please explain to our in-house readers the specifics of what Spotlight can do for them and their departments.
Mankoo: The genesis of creating Spotlight was to provide visibility, transparency and functionality at a strategic level among our corporate clients over and above what was available to them from point solutions in their e-discovery portfolio. The key in creating Spotlight was determining how we provide that visual portfolio in such a way that senior executive leadership can make strategic decisions as to their approach to their overall legal outsourcing and how they can reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Spotlight is about managing information that is important to that senior executive. What is the overall spend? How much have we been able to save by using certain processes that have been created or new ways of doing things that have been implemented? Also, on a finite level across the portfolio, what is the target in terms of the budgeting for those matters, and how can we ensure that we are staying within the bounds of those targets and, where necessary, going back to the business and advising them that things are going to cost more or, ideally, that they are going to be able to do this for less?
In terms of the third-party applications, including Relativity and the other areas that Spotlight can interact with, effectively they are infinite, in the sense that anything with a format that is open – of which most of the big applications and databases in this space are – can interact via Spotlight.
MCC: Please speak to the importance of visual communication in the management of this type of information. How has it become an important part of understanding the information?
Campion: We focus on developing an intuitive and easy-to-use interface that graphically represents any facet of the legal-process-outsourcing environment that a customer wants to point the application toward. Graphical representations sometimes highlight patterns and trends within a business that simple spreadsheets don’t illustrate as effectively. The interface is also easy to use and intuit so that our customers can customize it on the fly. It is fully tablet- and phone-enabled. Being able to get real-time statistics presented in a format that highlights trends from a graphical representation standpoint is critical.
MCC: A key benefit of Spotlight that is likely to entice our readers is its capability to answer the all-important question of just what benefits, particularly specific cost savings, companies are realizing through Luminosity. Explain how Spotlight can help companies better understand, manage and justify their e-discovery spending.
Campion: That really touches on one of the premium value attributes of the application. Inventus has focused on using technology to effectively manage litigation portfolios for our customers. We are delivering extraordinary cost savings through the reuse and repurposing of attorney-client work product and good old-
fashioned data reuse and review metrics. One of the things that Spotlight does is help clients quantify the cost reduction that Inventus is creating for them through its Luminosity suite of products. We are so confident in the savings that we are creating for our clients that we wanted to effectively drop the curtain and provide full transparency, allowing clients to calculate the actual savings we are generating. We thought this was critical in terms of aligning our interests with our customers and in being fully transparent about the value that we are creating as support for the promises we make as part of our differentiation.
Mankoo: We are not just a technical business that has moved into the review area, and equally, we are not just a review business that has moved into the technical area. We have always been both. We have a holistic perspective of all of the skills and the expertise involved in reducing a customer’s spend and looking at the best way to execute a matter from start to finish. We are not tied to providing the answer to one question that is in the comfort zone that we know. We have the expertise across all of the disciplines, and that helps us open up the box, give full transparency into all the data for every stage of the process and then advise our clients on the best way to proceed in each of those areas as well as overall.
MCC: In addition to cost analysis and reporting, Spotlight uses visual data mapping to bring certain information to the surface quickly and efficiently with the potential for greater cost savings. Give us a few examples of the various ways in which Spotlight can be tailored to a specific company’s need and help corporate law departments and outside counsel better understand their own data without turning to costly outside assistance.
Mankoo: In addition to the cost and ROI reporting analytics, Spotlight gives our clients unprecedented insight into the patterns in their data usage and their organization’s legal processes. For example, the ability to identify the key cohorts of data that sit at the intersection of multiple matters, and therefore potentially benefit from reuse of work product, is a very important and potentially lucrative area of management information. Equally, the identification of the most occurring custodians in the various data sets also provides a potential risk indicator from a compliance perspective.
A slightly different application of Spotlight that we have seen our clients use is the monitoring of external counsel review-process efficiency and the creation of a comparison as between the various matters and law firms in their matter portfolio. This then helps guide the efforts regarding legal-process-efficiency improvement and cost reduction.
Finally, the ability for the client to see full cross-matter analytics, whether that be average timeline, cost or resourcing for a certain type of case, allows our clients to extrapolate and forward forecast areas of their legal business that have previously remained opaque.
MCC: E-discovery, managed review and related areas are evolving rapidly.
What is next for Inventus? What do you see on the horizon that seems especially promising for companies searching to further drive down litigation costs without sacrificing outcomes?
Campion: There are important initiatives underway at Inventus that are going to help us leverage our size and scale for our clients. First and foremost, we will continue our expansion, and we have aggressive strategies in place to deliver exceptional growth both organically and inorganically. We want to expand our presence in Asia to be able to support our clients in Eastern markets and continue our expansion in Europe as well as in the U.S. Scale will help us continue to drive down costs for our clients.
In terms of our development efforts, we believe that technology is going to continue to evolve rapidly and deliver significant and compelling business use cases. We want to continue to deliver business solutions to what have historically been legal problems. We are focused on delivering proprietary technology that changes the way our clients manage legal processes. The effect of the deployment of Inventus’ proprietary technologies combined with some best-of-breed third-party tools we license, will be a continued compelling piece of delivering value for our clients.
Mankoo: I bring it back to the customer in this regard. Our clients are increasingly not seeing e-discovery as linear, with one process dependent on the outcome of the preceding process. More and more it is becoming iterative and interactive, and clients need to have the flexibility, from an investigation and a litigation standpoint, to jump to various points in that process and follow their train of inquiry. Developing tools that enhance the ability of our clients to be more flexible – in conjunction with expertise and advice in consulting – are the areas that are key for us as a business. Having people who understand deeply what the clients’ issues are and the most efficient and the best ways to secure the outcome they want is a great differentiator for us.
Trevor Campion, CEO of Inventus, Inc. email@example.com
Paul Mankoo, President of Inventus International. firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevor Campion joined Inventus as CEO in 2009. He has 17 years of executive management experience in the legal services sector and has led some of the most recognized companies in the industry. Prior to joining Inventus, Trevor served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Encore Discovery Solutions, Vice President of Digital Solutions at Williams Lea and Senior Vice President of Uniscribe. Trevor has an unmatched track record in creating shareholder value through restructures, reorganizations, acquisitions and integration. He has been an active investor and acquirer in the discovery management space and has led some of the most remarkable restructures, turnarounds and integrations in the industry. Trevor is an active member of the entrepreneurial community in Chicago and an investor and mentor for early-stage businesses.
Paul Mankoo has over 18 years of entrepreneurial and technical experience within both the legal and corporate markets. He has established, built and divested three successful companies in these areas and advises corporate and legal services clients in regard to e-discovery and litigation support processes. His broad knowledge base has been acquired through the provisioning of legal process outsourcing (LPO), business process outsourcing (BPO) and IT services on a global basis.
A certified e-discovery specialist (CEDS), Paul is also a member of the Society for Computers and Law (SCL) and The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). He has substantial experience in overseeing and managing high data volume, high value, cross border regulatory investigations and litigation working primarily with general counsel and external counsel as well as compliance teams in defining the optimum strategic approach for each case. Paul holds a B.A. Honors degree in business studies and information technology.
Published March 29, 2016.