By Jonathan Maas
Linklaters are not known for thinking small when it comes to client-facing initiatives. In 1996 they launched Blue Flag, their revolutionary system for clients in the financial services industry (later spun off, in 2008, with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services to become available to the broader financial services market). Roll forward to 2003 when they completed implementation of their firm-wide SAP (Systems, Applications and Products) management system. Hop forward to 2016 when they were one of the first firms to set up a partner-led global innovation team. Now, in 2018, they suddenly announce their new global eDiscovery service. I say “suddenly” because I know they have spent the last 12 months or so establishing the Servient proof of concept behind closed doors in their flagship London office. In April 2018 they recruited Harjot Sehmi from the Financial Conduct Authority to head their eDiscovery team under the watchful eye of Jas Mundae.
The fact that Linklaters have launched this service is not itself of particular interest (firms are either going all in or all out) but their software selection is definitely of interest because it bucks the trend. THEY ARE NOT USING RELATIVITY!
They have, instead, picked a Houston-based company, not well known in the UK, called Servient with very impressive and comprehensive software. Not well known because, until recently, they kept out of the eD vendor space due to Relativity’s obvious dominance. Instead they focussed on enterprise eDiscovery and AI and have been doing very nicely since the early 2000s.
I came across Servient in late 2016 and was very taken with their software. In my opinion Linklaters have been very shrewd: instead of following the herd they have instead struck out on their own and done what many would have thought impossible – they have found a viable alternative to Relativity.
I love Relativity and I have known Andrew Sieja, kCura founder and Relativity CEO, since about 2007 (at ILTACON in Orlando) but I have been concerned for some time about one software’s dominance in the eDiscovery market. That dominance has even driven M&A activity, such as Consilio’s acquisition of Proven Legal Technology in London and Huron Legal’s global operation.
So, a high five to Linklaters: talk about market disruption! I look forward to hearing how else they use Servient within their other practice areas.