Interview: Abigail Cooke – Account Manager, APAC at kCURA

Author: InnoXcell

September-08 2016

Abigail Cooke is an Account Manager for Asia Pacific with kCura, a leading eDiscovery developer. She joins Stuart Hall in a discussion on Early Case Assessment at the IAS Singapore conference on September 8th.

Hi Abigail. Could you tell us how you first came to work within the eDiscovery industry?

I am a US qualified lawyer. I started my career with the US Department of Justice and began working in corporate law and on large-scale transactions and corporate contracts. I had been using Relativity in-house, but for slightly different purposes, which had helped me transition into this role, as litigation is such a small part of our case use in this region. In Asia Pacific, we are more focused on using the software in different ways than before. So for me, being a lawyer and using the technology off the beaten path rather than coming from a traditional eDiscovery background proved to be an advantage.

Why is the eDiscovery market growing more rapidly in Asia?

We reported growth of 225% for Asia Pacific last year. Part of the reason for the unprecedented growth is because it’s so new out here – our first use in Asia wasn’t until late 2011, though the corporation was established 16 years ago. While the numbers may be slightly inflated in that regard, I do think the market here is growing faster than other developed regions were when they were still immature markets. Here in Asia Pacific, development is occurring quickly, and I think there are three main things driving this:

  1. Regulatory Response – Corporations are becoming increasingly globalized and more often than not, when they come to Asia, they find themselves subject to FCPA and other enquiries. Hong Kong has a very active Securities and Futures Commission, and they have increased the number of investigations conducted over the years.

  2. Internal Investigations – We see a lot of companies that need to investigate their employees for bribery, fraud and misconduct. This is the type of activity that occurs before the government is involved.

  3. Alternative Use Cases – The US litigation market is so large that you can justify buying a product like Relativity and using it solely for the purpose of litigation. Here in Asia Pacific, it may be harder to justify an expensive tool for a small piece of your legal budget, but it can be used more broadly and for different purposes.

What would you highlight as some of the significant new purposes for eDiscovery?

Using Relativity for investigations isn’t necessarily new, though Compliance in investigations – using it before an incident occurs, and as a monitoring tool – is a new function. This involves protecting and identifying your intellectual property pre, rather than post, incident; not just waiting for something to occur and then reacting.

Could you talk us through your discussion at the IAS Singapore?

Myself and Stuart Hall will be speaking about early case assessment – enlightening corporations as to what it is, making sure that they ask their eDiscovery providers to view this as a necessary part of the process. There are all these broad collections of data – you push the data through a processing tool, then you host it on a platform like Relativity. Without ECA, the time and cost of hosting and reviewing irrelevant data can be significant. Early case assessment is a functionality that allows corporations to make early strategic decisions about corporate data, saving on cost and efficiency. In our discussion, we want to talk about the necessary steps that a lot of people may not be currently taking.

What are some of the ways kCura ensures it meets the changing landscape in APAC?

kCura ensures that we are meeting the changing landscape in by adopting various mobility options. Where you used to have a data centre that cost hundreds of thousands of USD to establish, we now have mobile alternatives that cost a fraction of the price.

Here in Asia Pacific, we are only just at the beginning of the story. Excitingly, we just spoke to the first local eDiscovery providers in China doing end-to-end services. All the others in China have previously been global partners that followed their clients out there. Now that we are seeing local providers doing eDiscovery, we can only expect more homegrown providers to follow suit.

How are cross-border issues with data collection handled?

When you first start thinking about all the different data privacy laws it can appear overwhelming, but it’s more straightforward than you might initially assume. Watching our providers operate in China, we have come up with creative proprietary efficient ways in dealing with different data privacy laws. There are definitely closed jurisdictions – not just data privacy laws, but also state secrets. Mobility, plug-and-play platforms; there are a lot of solutions from a technology standpoint, but we must ensure that as a corporation we are asking the right questions.

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