Modus: Access, Discover, and Manage only What's Relevant

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Steve Horan, CEO & Executive Chairman To a cybercriminal, a law firm is virtually a sitting duck. When a team of legal professionals, none of whom—being network engineers or cybersecurity experts—are expected to safeguard a treasure trove of sensitive information, such as trade secrets and other intellectual property, the hacker is sensing blood. That being said, to counter cybercrime, law firms and even corporations dealing with litigation, have made significant investments in outsourcing legal technology service providers.

The word on the street, however, is that within the framework of all the sensitive activities that law firms are required to carry out, the process of eDiscovery is most vulnerable to intrusions, especially since the outsourced service providers lack the adequate technical and security expertise to ward off hackers. Over the past decade, a legion of legal professionals and their corporate clients have utilized eDiscovery to gather, review, and exchange sensitive information to fulfill court orders or evidentiary tasks. With millions of documents being transported electronically, many of them over insecure connections such as e-mail or FTP, law firms are ripe for the picking and almost helpless against data breaches.

This is precisely why Modus, a legal technology solution provider headquartered in the nation’s capital, has been so heavily invested in ISO certifications, Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and GDPR compliance to safeguard clients eDiscovery environment effectively. Referring to eDiscovery security as “a highly specialized arms race,” Steven Horan, the CEO and Executive Chairman of Modus, explains why his team aligned with Amazon. Amazon Web Services (AWS) not only has the best engineers but they are committed to our success. Their technology expertise, executive support, and entrepreneurial roots have been invaluable. We have been able to leverage a world class team of data, security, network, software architects,” says Horan, while citing that Amazon is at least two years ahead of the competition with regard to intrusion detection and cybersecurity.

"Due to our heavy investments in the sphere of data governance and security, we are one of the few eDiscovery firms that can realistically help the government"

By deploying AWS, Modus provides a cost-efficient and secure option to clients who no longer wish to manage their proprietary eDiscovery infrastructure. In effect, Modus’ clients can access its ISO:27001 certified Information Security Management System (ISMS) through the cloud and have the capability to seamlessly and securely support all their litigation projects.

The Four Pillars of eDiscovery

Having admittedly morphed from a “standard, arms-and-legs eDiscovery player” to a “relevant, technology solution provider,” Modus offers one of the most secure and scalable eDiscovery solutions in the industry. Horan notes that among all the complexities, the eDiscovery industry is essentially about four components: Access, Relevance, Time, and Cost.

Our low-cost solution comes with far more capabilities than any other offering in the market

Since clients under litigation are time-bound and ordered by courts to rapidly produce legal documents, an eDiscovery solution that provides them diverse and complex access to a myriad of complex information is a necessity. However, to sit through riches of data, and segregate the most relevant information, in the quickest possible time, is where eDiscovery hits home the hardest. According to Horan, legal professionals are beginning to acknowledge that “quick and relevant” is the secret sauce of the eDiscovery industry. “How do you find what’s relevant quickly? That has enormous legal and financial implications. If you find what is relevant quickly, you’re firing up 1 terabyte of data instead of 50 terabytes of data. The cost of storing and processing 50 TB of data is high,” says Horan, while emphasizing that Modus helps clients “figure out what is relevant” without incurring massive costs.

Historically, when the CIO of an organization seeks the outsourced law firm partner for an annual estimate of legal costs, the answer would depend on how much litigation they have, the complexity, and size of the litigation. In this scenario, the CIO is unable to mandate a yearly budget for legal fees. This is where Modus steps in. By integrating the element of predictability in its eDiscovery process, the client can now continue to enjoy access to relevant information quickly, but with more accuracy.

Discovery Intelligence

To the Modus team, discovering client data is only the tipping point. The most crucial aspect remains the intelligence gained from the “retained” data. This is why Modus provides a full suite of eDiscovery and technology services to help both law firms and corporations plan, discover, manage, integrate, and leverage raw data into what it calls “Discovery Intelligence.”

The clients of Modus benefit from wire-to-wire assistance and consultancy, through all six steps of the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM). Developed by Tom Gelbmann and George Socha in 2005, the EDRM is an industry- accepted reference model that is used as a standard for the discovery and recovery of digital data. Modus’ service cycle spans across eDiscovery reporting, data collection and forensics, eDiscovery processing, early case assessment, review, and hosting, before wrapping up with the all-important eDiscovery production.

Since the success of an eDiscovery project hinges on filtering the data in the early stages, Modus offers clients, which include both law firms and corporate firms, a technology titled the “Early Case Assessment (ECA).” The technology, available in two options—the proprietary Modus 4C ECA Solution and ECA as part of the VenioOne integrated eDiscovery platform. These solutions reduce the number of legal documents that need to be processed and reviewed, thereby shortening the project cycle time, and minimizing the project cost. Horan is convinced that no other eDiscovery organization is offering a more cost-effective solution. “We’re able to beat standard pricing elements of eDiscovery offerings, by 30 to 70 percent . The result is not only a lower cost solution but a better solution.”

“But this is only the beginning in the Data Intelligence journey.” says Horan.
“eDiscovery is a component of a much bigger landscape. We are expanding our capabilities in analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and information governance. For example, what if an insurance company can use analytics to determine which cases to settle or fight? The implications are far reaching.

Unlike Google that offers a ubiquitous search engine that every user gets standardized access to, eDiscovery requires a customer to filter data formats and input devices along with identifying the objectives behind particular data. There’s a human and process element to eDiscovery and a series of regulatory and legal restrictions on data governance. Since a customer has to follow defensive processes and appear in front of an opposing counsel, the client service element of eDiscovery cannot be understated. “Due to the tight integration between people and processes, an effective and transparent work flow is critical. The people and process aspects compete with relevance, cost and time. You must properly balance them,” says Horan.

Modus has built its value proposition and delivery model, based on the needs of the modern-day CIO. Modus see’s flexibility for the COI as a strategic differentiator. According to Horan, “we are offering all the things that matter to a CIO: security, scale, cost, flexibility, and reliability. Too many CIOs have been burdened with legacy events that are a challenge to navigate through. We want the CIO to be relevant—regardless of the direction they pivot the technology and the organization.”

An Ambitious Plan to Help the Government

The U.S. federal government relies on eDiscovery unlike never before. However, there are problems aplenty, stemming from the involvement of third parties in litigation, and the vague regulations surrounding government data being made available and stored for eDiscovery. As part of its ambitious roadmap, Modus intends to help the government navigate the complexities of eDiscovery. “Right now, the U.S. government is overpaying for eDiscovery, sometimes as much as 85 percent. Since Federal and state governments are big users of litigation, we believe we can save them significant funds to use in more needed areas to help citizens. Due to our heavy investments in the sphere of data governance and security, we are one of the few eDiscovery firms that can realistically help the government,” adds Horan. Modus recently deployed infrastructure for the Federal Government with AWS that is current being reviewed for FedRAMP certification.

To think that cybercriminals pose a lone threat to eDiscovery is naive. In recent years, there have been several cases of law firms inadvertently exposing client data in a public domain. While some cited technology malfunctions and errors, others used redaction failures as an excuse. Even multi-national corporations that spend millions of dollars to outsource litigation teams, have fallen victims to accidental disclosure of licensing agreements and other confidential documents. It’s this degree of mishandling of sensitive data that has inspired Modus to focus on the mantra of “People, Process, and Technology,” while ensuring a higher level of synchronization between sales, operations, and delivery. Clients such as Laurie Miller, Member and Co-Chair of the eDiscovery Committee for Jackson Kelly, stand behind Modus as she states: “Modus has proven to be a valuable partner for Jackson Kelly and our clients. The quality, flexibility, integrity, transparency, standardization, and scalability that Modus brings to the table is unmatched in the industry. This is how eDiscovery Partnerships are supposed to work.”

Modus News

Modus Create Welcomes Chris Avore as Director of Customer Experience

RESTON, Va., - Modus Create, Inc. is pleased to announce and welcome industry thought leader Chris Avore as Director, Customer Experience. Mr. Avore's vast experience leading enterprise design organizations, and integrating design thinking into business strategy, strengthen Modus' already extensive digital transformation portfolio of work. Learn more about Modus' work in customer experience on our website.

"As we continue our dynamic growth, we are actively investing in key leadership to create and scale centers of excellence around our core delivery areas and commercial partners. Adding Chris will allow our Customer Experience practice to further enhance our capabilities of user research, idea validation, and evidence-based design," said co-founder and Managing Partner, Patrick Sheridan.

"Chris is uniquely qualified to lead our Customer Experience practice. His experience with both consulting and mentorship align perfectly with the core values of Modus: being great partners to our clients and a platform for growth of our consultants," said COO and President Cheryl Williford.

Formerly, as a principal of InVision's Design Transformation team, Mr. Avore advised the design teams of such world-class organizations as Netflix, frog, Morningstar, Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Verizon, AT&T, and AIG increase their strategic influence, while helping the larger enterprise better understand the business value of design. Prior to joining InVision, Chris led the design and user experience organization at Nasdaq, where he scaled the practice from a solo contributor to a team of more than 30 researchers, visual designers, interaction designers, and data visualization experts originally serving one line of business to the entire enterprise.

"After working with dozens of the world's best known brands to elevate design maturity and communicate the value of design, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to create lasting change for Modus clients," said Avore. "So many companies struggle with digital transformation, customer experience, and unlocking the full potential of innovation. The opportunity to improve not just products, but organizations, at Modus is vast, and the potential is limitless. I can't wait to be a part of it."



Steve Horan, CEO & Executive Chairman and Gabe Wiechman, EVP of Sales and Business Development, Matthew Lutterloh, COO and John Crites, CIO

eDiscovery solution provider that helps both law firms and corporate clients discover relevant and intelligent data in a cost effective manner