Andrea Williams recently joined FTI Technology as a Managing Director to lead the segment’s growth in Canada. An e-discovery expert by trade, Andrea has a robust plan for bringing new technology offerings to the region as well as expanding her team to include experts across numerous practice areas including managed review, investigations and Information Governance, Privacy & Security. We recently discussed her view of the emerging challenges, opportunities and technology outlook for Canadian law firms and corporate legal teams.
Andrea, it’s great to have you. Can you talk about your background and your broad view of your new role with FTI Technology?
I’ve been in the e-discovery and legal technology industry for 16 years, serving in project management, solutions and technical services roles. I was most recently at Ricoh eDiscovery, (formerly Commonwealth Legal) where I spent a large portion of my career as business and operations leader. Nearly half my time there was in a leadership role focused on growing teams and capabilities around technology and emerging solutions.
Working with the team here at FTI Technology has been an energizing experience so far. I was initially drawn to the firm’s culture, industry leadership and its emphasis on diversity, inclusion and belonging. Now that I’m starting to settle into my role, I see that these are real attributes that are lived out in the way employees are treated and empowered. I know that I’m set up for success to grow our business and solutions in Canada because of this foundation of integrity, respect and dedication to excellence.
A large part of your role is to expand the Technology segment’s offerings in Canada. What do you see as the biggest needs and opportunities in the region? What sets FTI Technology apart?
Like in most regions, corporations in Canada have experienced a tremendous amount of change over the last year and a half. The effects of the pandemic and remote work have led to an increase in the diversity and volume of data sources that may come into scope in an investigation or e-discovery matter. This raises new questions about e-discovery workflows and technologies, and whether the traditional approaches will continue to work against the backdrop of a significantly changed (and ever-changing) data footprint. It’s a challenge to answer these questions, but also an opportunity to embrace new technology solutions and reconsider how data may be used to enrich fact-finding and document review.
In addition to changing the way data impacts e-discovery, the pandemic has also expedited awareness around the need for more efficiencies in legal operations and law department management. Again, this presents an opportunity for legal operations managers to build business cases around and secure support for technology modernization initiatives.
Our team is well positioned to respond to these challenges and opportunities. We have decades of collective experience across all phases of the EDRM, legal technology design and implementation and how to optimize technology alongside human expertise. We’re also backed by an extensive global team comprised of the top experts in data risk, investigations, data privacy, information governance, analytics and digital forensics.
What emerging issues are you bracing for and building services around? What legal and regulatory trends are positioned to impact clients in Canada?
Data privacy is a hot button issue here like it currently is nearly everywhere in the world. Canadian privacy laws are evolving and becoming more stringent, and multi-national organizations here are increasingly feeling the effects of data protection regulations in other jurisdictions. FTI Technology’s Information Governance, Privacy & Security practice has been expanding rapidly across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific this year, and I certainly see room for us to carry that expansion into Canada to support clients with emerging data privacy challenges.
The other area I’m particularly interested in and see us growing solutions around is the intersection of IG and e-discovery. There are so many benefits IG programs like data mapping and defensible data disposal can deliver to e-discovery processes and costs. Similarly, legal teams can leverage the findings from an e-discovery matter to support data mapping and other data insights that can help inform governance decisions.
What’s the state of technology adoption (e.g., advanced analytics, TAR, legal department automation) among lawyers in Canada?
Canadian law firms are committed to finding ways to work smarter and more efficiently for clients, and that has driven a healthy openness to technology adoption in Canada. For the last decade, the legal industry here has been engaging in conversations about how to improve e-discovery and embrace technology to work in a more dynamic way. What’s different about Canada is that a lot of the technology adoption and innovation has been driven organically by litigation support teams leading the way for utilizing analytics and new workflows. As datasets continue to grow and discovery becomes increasingly complex, I think we’ll see even more momentum behind advanced tools to streamline e-discovery as well as other core legal functions.
You’ve previously mentioned that there’s a strong representation of women in the e-discovery field in Canada. Can you talk about that and why you think it’s significant?
Ensuring women are equally represented in legal technology is important given that globally, STEM positions are disproportionately held by men.
Personally, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of female leaders throughout my career. My previous employer had strong female leadership, and FTI Technology does as well, starting with our segment’s Global CEO Sophie Ross, on through to practice leaders, regional leaders, Senior Managing Directors, Managing Directors, interns and every level in between. Likewise, the e-discovery field in Canada has a strong representation of women—with many women in the industry having embraced technology in the early days of e-discovery as a way to make work more efficient.
We’ve made ongoing progress over the last decade, and as I grow our team here, I’ll be working to build upon that within FTI Technology and among partner and client connections.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.