If you’re familiar with litigation support services, chances are you’ve heard of e-Discovery. After all, it’s one of the fastest-growing and most rapidly evolving practices in the field. But the complexity of e-Discovery, along with the rise of new modes of telecommunication, means it’s vital to stay on top of the latest digital trends.

That’s something San Francisco-based Michael Garlie has been doing for more than 20 years. Having started his career like so many young legal assistants – by sifting through boxes of hard-copy evidence – Garlie was quick to pivot when data collection turned digital.

“Eventually all that paper was replaced by servers and hard drives,” Garlie said. “I had to become technical very quickly and learn how to collect data in a way that didn’t change any of its characteristics, and could be used as evidence in lawsuits.”

That first-hand experience soon saw Garlie become one of California’s foremost e-Discovery experts – and he is now delivering that expertise as our newest partner. Garlie, who has a long-standing working relationship with Grobstein Teeple LLP Principal Erik Rasmussen, says it was an easy decision to join forces.

“I was hired as an expert witness on a lawsuit and had to testify in the trial,” Garlie explained.

“Leading up to it, I had to call the opposing counsel’s expert witness to exchange some data. It turned out to be Erik Rasmussen, who runs the Cybersecurity division at Grobstein Teeple and does a lot of Digital Forensics work.

“We had a great conversation, and despite the fact that we were adversaries on that case and testifying against each other, we quickly realized we could help each other out. And we respected each other’s work output enough to build on that trust and work together on other matters.”

Staying on top of the latest digital trends

Garlie’s arrival is in partnership with Reveal – an e-Discovery platform he has worked closely with since its inception in 2009. But what exactly is e-Discovery? According to Garlie, it is simply the collection, identification and preservation of electronically-stored information – or data.

When you think about the many ways electronic information is transmitted in this day and age, that’s a lot of data! Which is why Garlie – who completed a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity at Utica University in upstate New York in 2020 – is quick to stay on top of the trends.

“I obtained my Master’s degree in Cybersecurity with a specialization in Digital Forensics,” Garlie explained. “I’d been exposed to and worked with Digital Forensics in my own e-Discovery practice and I grew very interested in that.”

Pressed on renewing his focus on Digital Forensics, Garlie is forthright. “I wanted to get the data further upstream,” he laughed. “I thought the idea of being an investigator was really appealing – from watching TV and movies and shows like CSI,” he added.

“I think it’s an interesting field and the idea that there are hackers and nation states out there trying to steal our intellectual property, I was fascinated by that.

“It just seemed really interesting and tangential to what I’d already been working with. So my studies in Digital Forensics really expanded the breadth and depth of my skill sets.”

Making a difference through e-Discovery

While he has brushed up on his Digital Forensics skills, it’s the ever-evolving field of e-Discovery where Garlie expects to make the biggest impact. Having made long-lasting relationships in the field, he’s keen to introduce some of his clients to the firm’s other forensic accounting services – and vice versa.

“Many of Grobstein Teeple’s clients are litigation attorneys, “Garlie explained. “They happen to be the same clients I have, so it’s been a quick and easy process to combine our areas of expertise.”

One of those areas is the use of Artificial Intelligence, which Garlie says is vital given the vast collections of data he and his team have to sift through every day.

“That’s one of the benefits of working with Reveal, in that they have an Artificial Intelligence solution that I can use… and my clients can use.

“If you have a million emails, the old linear way to read them would be to review all of those emails. Whereas now, we might get through 15 percent of those emails and if we don’t see AI scores high enough to continue a review, then we’ve just saved hundreds of thousands of attorney hours on that case.”

Saving time and money – and making it easier to find relevant documents at the right time for any investigation – are all part of the service now offered by Garlie and his expert team to Grobstein Teeple clients.

“A lot of my job is working with the attorneys to identify what we need to collect,” Garlie explained. “And once we collect it, we need to make it concise enough so we can say with a high degree of confidence that what we’re reviewing is what needs to be investigated, or produced to the opposing counsel.”

If you’d like to learn more about the e-Discovery and Digital Forensics services offered by Michael and his team, please book a call.

“From trade secret issues to forensic accounting for trial—working with GT guarantees great results.”

Attorney, Trade Secret Attorney
Anabella Bonfa

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