At DISCO, creative thinking is not just a buzzword – it’s a principle foundation of the company’s culture to not follow the status quo, but to push the limits of technological boundaries. For example, cross-functional teams of talented engineers, project managers, professional services, and legal practitioners meet weekly to review and vet new features to make sure they work intuitively, as a legal professional would expect.
Disrupting the status quo not only applies to the marketplace, but to the workplace. As evidenced in recent news (here and here), “the most disruptive companies are often just as stuck in the thinking of the past when it comes to workplace innovation…" If you're moving and growing so quickly, individuals in the workplace are the “things” that you ignore the most. Uber was being pushed hard by shareholders to grow more in new markets and to add more customers, not thinking about the individual in the workplace.
DISCO has chosen to address workplace and company culture by developing grassroots employee initiatives like the DISCO Culture Committee, town hall events where employees share “a day in the life” on their team, and service-oriented groups such as DISCO Cares. These initiatives seem to be having an impact, as DISCO has grown its workforce by 78% in the past year and continues to draw some of the best and brightest talent.
I had the opportunity to sit down with new employee and entrepreneur – Michael Garlie – to understand what attracted him to DISCO and hear about his experience joining the team. Michael is the founder of DSU Discovery and has worked with Bay Area law firms for over 18 years. He brings a unique perspective to the industry, as a result of being both an entrepreneur and litigation support provider in the space, and can approach a data problem from all sides.
Q1: Tell us briefly about your background. How did you get into the legal technology industry?
My career in legal technology goes back to the late 90s. I worked for, and eventually became partner of, a litigation support bureau in San Francisco where we provided a myriad of services to San Francisco and Silicon Valley law firms. We began as a paper-based lit support company but due to the demand for ediscovery technology and my education and interest in technology, it was a natural progression to find best in class technologies to offer to our clients. Eventually, however, it became impossible to keep up with proprietary technology companies like DISCO who provide superior products and lower prices with excellent services and compliant security. And since I couldn’t beat 'em, I joined 'em.
Fun Fact: When I'm not working and spending time with my daughter, I can sometimes be found swimming competitively in the cold, shark-infested waters of the bay from Alcatraz to San Francisco.
Q2: How did you first hear about DISCO?
I first heard about DISCO a couple years ago when I lost an ediscovery project from one of my longtime, trusted clients simply because I couldn’t compete on pricing. My client and I tried extremely hard to find a way to work together but after cutting too far into my bottom line, I finally had to cry mercy. The traditional pricing (methodology) I was required to use – charging clients for processing data in, cull, data out, monthly hosting charges, user fees and tiffing/endorsing for productions – was ultimately impossible to compete with DISCO. I spent another couple years stewing about this loss and when the opportunity arose to join a team that completely flips the entire industry on its head, I went for it without any hesitation whatsoever, knowing that the absolute best thing I could do for my clients was to offer the best technology at the most competitive pricing that will allow them to more efficiently win their cases.
Q3: What attracted you to the company?
I had a colleague join DISCO about a month prior. I wasn’t looking to make a change, but he just knew that I would be a perfect fit within the organization so he reached out to me. Once he told me about the scalable architecture built from the ground up in the cloud, artificial intelligence deep learning update used in tag predictions, the intuitive interface that doesn’t require training for attorneys or support staff, and of course the disruptive pricing model, it was hard to resist moving forward in exploring this opportunity – and I sure am glad I did!
Q4: What confirmed your decision to work for DISCO?
Throughout my interview process, the excitement continued to build – every person I met within the organization was incredibly passionate about the technology, as well as the disruptive, yet positive change DISCO will provide on the industry as a whole.
I am incredibly impressed with every aspect of the company. While the interview process was extensive (I endured 10 interviews!), it told me that DISCO really takes the time to find the right people for the organization. Now that I’ve gone through the onboarding process, I can confirm that every single fellow DISCO employee and executive I’ve had contact with has not only very impressive backgrounds but also exudes passion for the product.
Even before I started, word began getting around about my new position and, without even trying, clients began reaching out me, yearning to learn more about this product. It turns out DISCO has become the talk of the town in the legal community and that buzz has translated into a very quick transition from the new guy to the guy who has already brought some exciting cases to the technology.
Q6: What do you see as future challenges for ediscovery professionals? How can DISCO help?
I think the future challenges for ediscovery professionals are dealing with security and costs, which are interrelated. As we all know, the cost of document review in a matter is the most expensive part and choosing the right technology to assist the review team with the hopes of creating efficiencies in review can drastically reduce the costs. My second point about security is also a cost to a matter for two reasons. First of all, the costs of maintaining data centers – either in a firm, corporation or lit support vendor – are astronomical, and adding in the proper security measures that meet compliance increases those costs even more. Second, the cost of a breach from data theft or loss can create incredibly consequential losses to an organization that can easily surpass the value of the case. So, I think it’s important for law firms and corporate legal departments to make sure they’re working with an ediscovery provider, like DISCO, who keeps all of these issues – both review time and security – in the front of their mind, so that firms can mitigate cost overages from all sides.