Marlene Gebauer 0:07
Welcome to The Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:14
And I’m Greg Lambert. So Marlene, I’m really excited about…
Marlene Gebauer 0:18
We have a superize for everybody. Yes.
Greg Lambert 0:24
So a brand new logo for The Geek in Review. And I want to thank Juan out of Austin, who goes by @ChangoATX.
Marlene Gebauer 0:33
Thank you Juan. It’s great.
Greg Lambert 0:34
Yeah. So we’ve had some fun with the logo. We’d like to hear what you think about it as well.
Marlene Gebauer 0:40
Absolutely. We’re getting some good feedback when we posted it. So I’m pleased because it was a really fun process. And I think it’s a really fun logo.
Greg Lambert 0:48
Yeah, yeah, it definitely puts the “geek” in “the geek in review. Super Geek. So yeah, so we’re having fun with that. This week. We have Mollie Nichols from Redgrave Data, she talks to us about her move over from Hogan Lovells earlier this year after winning the Financial Times Award for Most Innovative law firm. And she moved over to actually what was her old law firm, sorry, a new business spin off called Redgrave Data, which is a completely separate business entity from Redgrave LLP, where she once was a partner.
Marlene Gebauer 1:23
Yeah, so in this new role, she can work with many clients instead of just one firm’s clients. So we talked about the scope of data and how she views data in law firms and legal departments as a unique and valuable resource that needs unique and valuable insights that her team brings to her clients through visualization and analysis.
Greg Lambert 1:44
It was a great discussion, so I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we did.
We’d like to welcome Mollie Nichols, co founder and CEO at Redgrave Data. Ali, thanks for taking the time to join us here at The Geek in Review.
Mollie Nichols 2:00
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for having me, Greg.
Marlene Gebauer 2:03
Mollie, we’re a couple of data geeks ourselves. So would you mind giving us a little background on the mission there at Redgrave Data and especially the idea that that Redgrave LLP, the law firm, reached out to you to create this offshoot that is Redgrave Data? What was the inspiration of getting you and your team over from Hogan Lovells and starting the business?
Mollie Nichols 2:25
Well, thank you, Marlene. So there’s a lot to unpack there. So I was a partner at Redgrave LLP a few years ago, and I left in 2016. To focus more on the data side of the business. At the time I was a partner at we just call it LLP, since Redgrave is the same in both companies. So when I was at LLP, it was just practicing law, there was no data component, they didn’t host data, they didn’t, you know, have the types of capabilities of that a service provider would have they were strictly a law firm. So I left and I ended up going back to big law. When I was at Hogan Lovells, I had the opportunity to build a global team to deal with issues about client data that were unique, and that I was given full rein to pretty much do what I wanted, that was best for our clients, best for the practice, easiest for the lawyers to be able to use the tools to benefit clients. And it was a fabulous experience. And while I was doing that, I built a team. That was my dream team. I’ve been in this business a long time. And I’ve been practicing law for a long time. I had an aha moment, about the turn of the century. So, it was about 1999-2000. I was a special assistant to the Texas Attorney General. And he was doing an investigation and it was a consumer protection matter. It was investigating pharmaceutical companies. All of the documents at that time were produced in an electronic format. Well, in the year 2000, the tools were not like they are today. And so we had I think we had summation in house at that point in time. But it couldn’t handle the volume of data that we had, and the type of data that we had. So, I did some research, and I found an analytics tool. This analytics tool was I’ve never seen anything like it. So, I ended up feeding all the data into this tool, but I drafted a dummy document it was, I don’t think we call them dummy documents anymore. But if I could find a smoking gun document, you know, this is what I wanted to find. And it was literally three or four sentences. It was a paragraph; it wasn’t a true document. I fed it into the analytics engine. And it started ranking the documents on how close they were to what I drafted. And the documents we found in that data set were amazing. So we found one smoking gun after another by using this analytics tool. It was that moment in time that I realized how powerful technology was in the practice of law, the hardest thing lawyers have to do is to distill all this information and find what they need that most important information so that they can advise a client, and they can develop an appropriate legal strategy. To me that was my aha moment is like, this is it, this is what I need in order to do my job. So what happened after that? Well, we went through a period of time, you may or may not remember that this but you know, we’d have email, we print out email, and then we would scan, scan it back into an electronic form, and then OCR it so that we could search it. And then we did coding. I mean, it was such a bad process. I fought through that time. And I kept saying, technology is helpful to lawyers. It’s not this thing that we unfortunately got in this, this weird, circular process. So jumping back to today, that was my aha moment. And I wanted to make a difference in the industry with using technology in law. I had that opportunity at Hogan Lovells, I assembled an amazing team. It was this time last year that we ended up well, Hogan Lovells won the Financial Times award for the most innovative law firm for the business of law. And it was based on a submission from my group. We were doing just things that I’ve never seen done and within a law firm before. And so, we won that award. I was named one of the top five innovative change makers in North America. And we were nominated for another analytics award as well. So, we were writing pretty high this time last year, and Jonathan Redgrave called me. So, Marlene, you didn’t think I was going to circle back to your question.
Marlene Gebauer 8:01
We’re getting there. I knew you were getting there. This is a great setup.
Mollie Nichols 8:08
So yeah, Jonathan called me, and he said, Hey, why don’t you come back to the Redgrave fold and set up a company? That is basically what you’re doing at Hogan Lovells, but do it for all clients, not just token level clients. And it was that opportunity that I said, absolutely, I’m going to do it. So I was lucky enough to bring some members of my team from Hogan with me, but then also adding Dave Lewis, who was the chief data scientist at BrainSpace. He came over and as our Chief Data scientific officer, we assemble this amazing team. Now we are able to service all clients. So it’s not just Hogan Lovells clients, and it’s not just Redgrave LLP clients. So we’re a separate entity, a total separate entity, we’re an LLC, and we’re open for business to meet our client’s needs. Our clients are law firms, and large organizations, tech giants seem to find us. We help them with all sorts of issues. But you know, the mission of what Redgrave Data is to to be that technology that assists in the practice of law in a meaningful way. It’s not a one size fits all type of Proposition which we see it a lot of service providers, they get the client data, they have a process, and it’s just crammed through that process. That’s not what we do. It’s so have individual, it’s custom, whether it’s putting together commercial tools that are currently available, or we’re building our own tools, we have a lot of custom tools, or it’s stacking tools, commercial tools together and maybe writing some glue code or something like that to put them together. But, you know, we tailor our services to the actual needs of the client.
Greg Lambert 10:27
Yeah. So you launched Redgrave Data earlier this year. And like you said, you brought over you brought over your team you had created the stream team at Hogan Lovells, but you also brought in people like Scott Culbertson as your chief strategy officer, you’d mentioned Dave Lewis from the brain space. You also had brought in Mark Noll and Lindsey worth that you work with at Hogan Lovells just kind of talk us through what life has been like and what your experience has been like, since you’ve, you’ve launched this in. And I’d like to know is this something that a firm the size of Redgrave gives you more flexibility to do things like this, versus a big law firm? Can a big law firm create an offshoot like this as well?
Mollie Nichols 11:15
Well, I think we have that off shoot at Hogan Lovells except we only serve as Hogan Lovells clients. So here we’re able to service anyone, it doesn’t have to be Redgrave LLP clients. We’re just associated with them. You know, we’re totally separate LLC separate company. The law firm has a small ownership interest in in our company. But other than that, we don’t have any other type of integration. So when we launched this year, yes, I had my dream team and you know, other people in the industry, like Scott Culbertson and I had worked with him for years on modeling, you know, looking at different pricing, your ways to price services, and he was instrumental, and some of the things that I did it at Hogan Lovells, so I turned to him for, you know, that piece of the business. So we knew we had a great concept. We’re all very, very passionate about what we do. We love what we do, we have a good time. But we did wonder, you know, okay, we’re gonna put out our shingle what’s gonna happen, you know, are we going to get any business? Are we going to stand there and say, Oh, we, we’ve been doing this a long time. You should come and are they gonna?
Greg Lambert 12:38
Come to us? I’m an expert.
Mollie Nichols 12:45
So we really didn’t know. So it was a little scary. I mean, those of us who came from very comfortable jobs, you know, this was the new frontier. But for some of us who are kind of at the twilight of our career, I’ll put it that way. Dave Lewis and I are about about the same. It’s we want to hit a home run. And we want to go out with a bang. And we felt this was our opportunity. And in fact, it happened. So we launched at the end of January of 2022. By March, we had two of the big tech giants, who had engaged us to do some really fascinating work, the kind of work that we were looking for the kind Yeah, that’s in our sweet spot that were like the red Adair, if you know, firefighting of, you know, in this area, if you have a complex problem, and it’s on fire, and you need help immediately, call Redgrave Data because they’ll get you out of it. And so that’s how best actually what happened. We got calls, we got involved in some really big projects. One of the nice projects, one of the first ones that we had actually came from a former partner at Hogan Lovells he had gone to another law firm. And when he heard we were out on our own, he gave us a call. And that was one of our first clients. And so there have been some surprises, things we didn’t anticipate. We were really heavy to begin with on our consulting. But now we’re we’re leaning more on the tech building side. So we’re building all sorts of things right now. We did some building upfront, but we’re building a lot right now. And that’s the fun part. I think when you can offer something that doesn’t exist, and it is unique and tailored to what a client needs. There’s a lot of satisfaction there.
Marlene Gebauer 14:58
What are the common scenarios Where you see there were companies seek the expert assistance of Redgrave Data, like, what are the benefits of that you can share? Or that you share with clients when they’re considering their business goals? And what do you tell them can be avoided in doing so?
Mollie Nichols 15:16
Yeah. So, again, Marlene, us these with better have a lot to unpack.
Marlene Gebauer 15:22
We’ll do one. We’ll do one at a time. So I know I’d like I always like, Okay, what was that part of the question? So what are what are some of the common scenarios where companies seek that that expert assistance? Like where, why When are they coming to you?
Mollie Nichols 15:37
Yeah. So it’s for complex data issues in a legal matter, or they want to do something, but it’s too expensive to do it the way that is normally done. You know, we may automate a process or we may provide a data visualization that would allow attorneys to understand what they were looking at to give advice. To give you some specific examples. I told you that former partner Hogan Lovells gave us a call. Well, we had built a bot for him at Hogan Lovells. And he wanted us to do something similar. We built it differently, though, we didn’t use the same kind of technology, we were more cloud based for this one. So he needed regulatory filings, he needed those collected from the regulatory websites, their public documents, he was having lawyers go on the site and downloading these documents and all the metadata surrounding them. And he was having them do this every day. And it was costing the client 1000s of dollars a day. So what we did with that is we automated that process, built a scraper a bot to go in and pull down those documents. And then we put it in a traditional type of review tool, so that lawyers can do their comments, do codes or categorization or whatever they want to do there. And we do this every night. So what was costing the client 1000s of dollars a day, now cost $3 a day. So, you know, there’s an upfront cost, but you know, they make that up, the return on investment is really quick, especially when they were charging 1000s of dollars a day for lawyers to do that. But you know, we’re doing almost 1000 URLs a night to pull down this information. And it’s worth it to the client. They had a situation they wanted to automate, make it cheaper and make the client happy. And so we worked with this law firm to do
Marlene Gebauer 17:55
it yet. So it sounds like they come to you for creative solutions
Mollie Nichols 18:01
when they have a data problem. So what do you see are the benefits of doing that? Not only just the benefits, but what are they avoiding, and actually taking advantage of that. They’re avoiding wasting money. They’re avoiding making decisions without all the information they need. Legal departments are typically seen as this black hole for money. You know, so you have a litigation, and you just throw all your resources at it and just hope you get through it in one piece. That’s how it’s always been viewed. Law firms and their clients are getting more savvy about dealing with the business and understanding it is a business, understanding that the business uses sophisticated tools. The lawyers haven’t always used sophisticated tools, but the businesses are and that’s important that their lawyers use the same types of tools they have in their business. And also by using these tools, the tools are able to provide information that allow for strategic decision making. This is very important. If you go into these matters, and you really don’t have all the information, then how are you going to adequately represent your client without spending a lot of money to get those documents and look at everything and you might not see relationships between conversations and documents like you would in an electronic means. So it’s really just taking the law practice and incorporating practices that businesses do in their day to day business. They’ve got Legal Operations people now. So they do want to manage Share the spend, there are legal project managers in law firms now that assist with that process. You know, all of this is about the business and their goals. But rather than being viewed as a black hole, they can be a partner in the business and understand the stresses and strains of the business.
Greg Lambert 20:21
I think one of the things that the reason that I think legal departments have been viewed in the past as a, as a black hole as overhead is that these departments tend to be reactive, rather than proactive. And it could be as simple as leveraging the fact that you have compliance issues that you have to stay up on top of, also, again, you’re talking about more legal ops teams working within the legal departments, that it’s not just, you know, taking that call from the sales guy saying, I screwed up, you know, and I’m going to need your help. But rather, it’s constantly staying involved in the strategy of the business. And one of the things that we’ve learned over the past 20 years is that, you know, data is the, you know, the new goldmine. It’s the, you know, what is the data is the new oil. And legal has a has a significant piece of that. And I imagine that there are some people that know that but would reach out to someone like you to help kind of guide them through that process of understanding how to set up the data. What is it that your kind of advice when it comes to the data? What’s important, then I want to I want to tag that on to another question here. But I’ll give you a chance to process that one first.
Mollie Nichols 21:56
Well, what’s important is, what they’re trying to achieve. There are a lot of ways that you can approach a project. And so, we need to understand what the legal needs are and what the business goals are, in order to craft the right solution. So, the one I described to you, that was the bot that was pulling down the filings, there was a business goal there. And the business goal was to save money, they really needed the information. But it was really expensive. So how could we take that pain point away? We do that also in, you know, litigation, we want to see what they need to achieve, what is their goal? And how can we best do that in a way that we can validate if we need to, we can testify about, but we ultimately save money, like reusing lawyer coding decisions, is something that Dave Lewis is an expert. He’s published scientific articles on it, he is the guy. And he has gone into some litigation this year. And he’s made these models. So, he’s reusing work product from with the same client from one service provider with a proprietary tool to another service provider that has relativity. So, to make a model like that, there’s, I’m not a scientist, so I’m not going to go into those details. But, you know, it takes that level of expertise to be able to validate that what you’ve done is you’ve reused that that work product and save the client, the lawyer time, the technical time, you know, it’s very satisfying.
Greg Lambert 23:47
It’s nice that you’re not there, you’re not their law, firm your data. Right? How would you describe that? Are you the data analyst or use the What’s your pitch for that?
Mollie Nichols 24:03
Well, our tagline is data done differently. So, I love it. I love it. So, you know, we go in and solve the most complex data issues in these legal matters. And, you know, it really depends. It’s not all litigation, and it’s its regulatory, and its investigations. It’s all sorts of things. So,
Greg Lambert 24:30
yeah, well, that ties in I was listening to your interview that you did earlier this year with Tom Fox, and you said something that really caught my attention. And that was the fact that you don’t look at the data as just a commodity. And I know you’ve been dealing with, you know, legal, regulatory and business aspects of data since the 90s. And so I really wanted to kind of flesh that out a little bit and so ask you why it is Your perspective is that you don’t look at data as just a commodity. And how do you go about your approach on analyzing it and processing and evaluating the data of your clients?
Mollie Nichols 25:12
So shout out to Tom Fox, they’re my fellow Longhorn. Hook ’em horns. Great, I understand you went to OU law school. So I’m sorry about that.
Greg Lambert 25:22
I’m not going to talk about the game this year.
Mollie Nichols 25:25
Okay, there, there you go. Data is where the most important information is. And you need to figure out how to use that data, to pull that information that is most important out so that the lawyers can make a legal strategy can talk with a client about the risks involved, can talk about a specific facts and their relationships that they see within the data. So if it’s viewed as a commodity, then it’s kind of that one size fits all. But we see it as that goldmine of information, and that information is important for decision making. It’s just like running a business, the data that is so important, the metrics that you’re collecting, you know, just all that information in order to make your decisions. That’s why data visualizations are very important to us. lawyers tend to react really well to them. So if you’re taking structured data, and you’re putting it in a fashion that shows, charts and graphs, or a heat map, you know, that’s the type of thing that we really enjoy doing. Because it’s a meaningful way to present the data. There was one matter that we had, where we had the sales of a product, but then we went ahead and layered some geolocation data on top of it. So we were able to develop a heat map. And then we were able to see what our clients share of that particular product was in the market. And very helpful for the lawyers then to make their legal arguments, their legal strategy. So you know, it’s pulling that information out.
Greg Lambert 27:17
One of the things I noticed is that you guys are going you’re going into Europe now, right, you’re doing business deals in Europe is that
Mollie Nichols 27:26
we are so our clients are global, okay. And some of our clients require that we have a presence, where they are. So we are currently setting up a GmbH in in Germany, that hopefully, will will be set up by the end of the year, but it might be January, and then we’re also setting up a UK Corporation and that one’s about done. So
Greg Lambert 27:54
does that I know there are different regulatory aspects of Europe in the UK, how does that affect you going forward, because I mean, you’re just now you’re not even a year old company. And you’re already expanding internationally is that how’s that affecting the company in this growth.
Mollie Nichols 28:14
So that was a part of our path. We knew what kind of clients we were going to attract, and they weren’t going to be within the US borders, they were going to expand. So we were going to need to come up with solutions that deal with that cross border issues. And we use a lot of cloud services. So we’re able to containerize our applications that we build, and put them into an AWS environment. And we can spin it up anywhere in the world, that that we we need to. So you know at that point, we can work on the data, minimum minimization, and all of those things that are important from a data protection standpoint, and moving data across border, so we can keep the data where it sits. So we use a lot of cloud computing resources, because of that,
Marlene Gebauer 29:13
in light of that, what role does data privacy play in Redgrave data’s work? And how do you ensure compliance with new privacy legislation? And that would be again, both here and you know, in Europe, where the standards are,
Mollie Nichols 29:28
are higher. First, I will say we are not a law firm and we do not practice law. But these things
Greg Lambert 29:37
to fall back on, isn’t it?
Marlene Gebauer 29:39
That’s a good first step first.
Mollie Nichols 29:40
I love it. We understand that there are challenges in different places around the world or even in the US. And we need to understand what those challenges are. And we build a process a workflow that will deal with Have those legal challenges. And so that’s why we have the option, you know, to host data anywhere in the world, you know where the data is located is really important. And then we have other processes that we can use to ensure that, you know, if we need to, to anonymize documents, or whatever it is, we need to do we incorporate that into the process.
Marlene Gebauer 30:27
We talk a lot about data visualization and tools like Power BI and the power automate suite that allow clients to gather, distill and present data in a meaningful way. And one thing I saw that was actually pretty interesting is now you can actually, there’s something you can overlay where you can ask a question, a specific question based on the data that you’re seeing in the visuals, either verbally, or just typing it in. And it’ll kind of focus on that. So how do these tools, you know, either affect data that the company maintains or uses or how they use it? And how does that change your approach to data and the work product of your clients? So like, how does it change what they’re doing? And then as an effect, how does it change what you’re doing?
Mollie Nichols 31:19
Well, from our standpoint, it’s just another tool in the toolkit. If a client needs to use a tool, where they are able to query it in a way, that would not be your standard way, where you need to find out a sentiment, you know, to do a sentiment analysis, there are tools out there that we can do that, even in the cloud. So we have found that there are tools that are not necessarily use for legal, that are cheaper, they’re better, they’re faster than what we find in the legal space.
Greg Lambert 31:53
Mollie Nichols 32:03
Yeah, right, we do look for all types of tools, and they’re all just tools in the tool belt, you know, what we have found that clients are really looking for on the data visualizations, they want to be able to understand these this large amount of data and compare it to others. To give you an example of what we found is a big challenge with our corporate clients. They’ll hire a bunch of eDiscovery providers. And they’ll be their preferred network 2345, however many, but they don’t have a way to measure how their performance how well are they actually doing. And so one of the things, we’ve got a big client right now that has us doing that very thing. We are doing onboarding of their preferred providers. And then we’re providing a dashboard, data visualization, to pull consistent types of KPIs from each service provider, so that they can compare them from a performance perspective, and all the KPIs that matter to this specific client, you know, getting that digital visualization, and then being able to use it to look at all of their providers to say, oh, this one’s not doing this. And it shows on the bottom line that they didn’t use analytics here, or, you know, they didn’t even use email threading, and this one saved us 30% When they did you know, so it’s whatever the client decides what they want to measure. But those are ways that clients are finding are valuable to them from a business perspective, so that they can meet their business goals.
Greg Lambert 33:56
Well, Mollie, we got to the point in the interview now where we ask everyone our crystal ball questions, so we’re going to hit you up with it as well. What changes or challenges do you see on the horizon for the legal industry in the next two to five years.
Mollie Nichols 34:15
So in some respects, it’s not going to change, you’re still going to have lawyers who know that there, there’s technology out there that exists that can help them, but they’ll either not understand what it is or what it does, and they won’t use it. And then there are judges who are out there that are not sophisticated on the technology and lawyers come in and they’ve used the technology in the appropriate way. And the judge doesn’t understand or won’t accept, I think those are givens and that will still continue to see. What we will see though is that AI will make a real impact. You know, when it started it will As AI was smoke and mirrors, it’s like, what are we doing now that we can call AI? It’s so much more now. And we’re gonna see it being used in a way that’s going to impact our clients. And the legal matters. You know, the volumes of data continue to grow. I mean, exponentially. We couldn’t even fathom this five years ago, the disparate data sources that we have to find the relationships between that, to do that type of analysis, we need very sophisticated tools. So it’s going to be a big challenge, because of the volume, the complexity of where the data sits, you know, we’ve got data in a company everywhere. How do you get it in a way to be able to use it meaningfully? I think AI will have that big impact.
Marlene Gebauer 35:52
Well, it sounds like we have our work cut out for us still. So, Mollie Nichols, co-founder and CEO at Redgrave Data. Thank you so much for talking with us today.
Greg Lambert 36:05
Mollie Nichols 36:06
Well, thank you, Greg, and Marlene for having me.
Greg Lambert 36:11
It was great having Mollie on the show. And again, one of the things I really enjoyed about the conversation was the fact that, you know, she does look at data as being not a commodity, that you can’t just take anybody’s data, send it through the same process and expect to have valuable insights. On the other end,
Marlene Gebauer 36:35
different clients have different needs. Yeah. The other thing I liked is that she’s using competitive intelligence, looking at the client’s businesses, not just their legal problems, but she’s sort of looking at their business in order to give insights. And that’s something that I don’t know that every firm is doing. The other thing I like is she was really bold about saying, you know, AI is going to be on the forefront for the for the future. I’m like, well done. Yeah. See in a year?
Greg Lambert 37:08
Well, and I agree, I think she hit some really good points on her predictions, and that you’re still going to run into lawyers and judges that are not going to move the ball forward very far. But I think they’re going to be, you know, they’re not going to be the majority anymore. I think people are seeing the value of some of these automated processes, some of these AI tools that are out there, that, you know, I it’s, it’s just going to be the norm going forward in and to fight that is going to be a losing battle.
Marlene Gebauer 37:49
Well, I have some healthy skepticism there. But I do hope she’s right.
Greg Lambert 37:53
Yeah, me too. So thanks again to Mollie Nichols from Redgrave Data for coming in and talking to us and talking data. We love data
Marlene Gebauer 38:03
we do. And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter,
Greg Lambert 38:16
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter,
Marlene Gebauer 38:19
or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7821 and as always, the music here is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 38:30
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, see you later.
Marlene Gebauer 38:32