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Case study

Reducing uncertainty in your internal investigations

Vice President of Compliance shares his best-kept secret for working through internal investigations

As a vice president for Thomson Reuters, Robert Goodall gets to deal with the hard stuff: allegations concerning possible breaches of the company’s compliance and ethics standards. If and when any of these concerns are raised, he’s often the one who begins the investigation.

In one particular case involving a complicated investigation, Goodall had a nagging feeling he was missing something. Granted, it was a complicated investigation. Goodall was hunting through emails using the search function in Outlook®. “I am certain I didn’t get the whole picture,” he says. “I always felt there was a significant amount I wasn’t able to piece together.” With Outlook, he says, “I was second-guessing myself all the time. Did I already look at this email? Was it different from this other email?” Although the eventual interview went quickly, and the case wrapped up successfully, Goodall longed for a tool that would make him more efficient and allow him to conduct his reviews with a higher level of certainty.

Although Goodall had tried to use various eDiscovery tools, they never worked quite the way he needed them to. Some couldn’t handle the bandwidth necessary to run document review on a laptop. On others, the learning curve was too steep, or the software would get bogged down as the volume of documents increased. Then in 2015, a sales rep, who’d attended the same law school as Goodall, suggested he give Thomson Reuters eDiscovery Point™ a try. “Within 20 minutes, I was using it,” he says. He says the software has made him much more efficient, although he jokes that the exact extent of his newfound productivity is “a closely guarded secret.”

Another investigation, focusing on a joint venture partner, demonstrated that Goodall had made the right decision. Goodall needed to know whether a particular transaction on the part of the partner represented a one-time payment or a recurring one. He asked for the partner’s books for the last 12 months, and received a PDF running about 1,000 pages. Panicking, Goodall immediately thought, “Oh no, this is going to take forever.” But his eDiscovery Case Manager (or ECM) assured Goodall that he could just upload the PDF and use the same search tools he was already familiar with. “It was wrapped up in just a few days,” says Goodall. “Best of all, I knew I found every instance of what it was that I was looking for.”

Even though Goodall found eDiscovery Point ridiculously easy to use, he made sure to work closely with his ECM, especially at the beginning. “He was fantastic at making sure I had everything that I needed,” Goodall says. At first, Goodall says, he had no idea about the proper way to code things and wasn’t sure how to use the download function. His ECM, he says, “was very patient, very helpful, and available within minutes of my asking.” The dedicated ECM walked him through the tagging functions, which were a marked improvement over his previous method, before switching to eDiscovery Point: pulling files into folders and saving them on a network drive. The guidance provided by Goodall’s ECM extends to proactively advising on best practices for data processing, productions and other uses of eDiscovery Point.

Goodall would also give his ECM access to specific matters in eDiscovery Point so that the ECM could help troubleshoot. At first, Goodall was slightly concerned: He was looking at internal documents about other employees, after all. “They are all professional,” he says of the ECMs.“I got comfortable with it pretty quickly.”

Being able to do an efficient and thorough search himself also saves his company on billable hours when working with an outside law firm, Goodall says. About 18 months ago, he says, he was looking at an issue that involved 15 different people and more than 100 gigabytes of data. Using eDiscovery Point, he was able to pare that down to about 10 gigabytes before handing it over to outside counsel for further analysis. “I like to think that saved us a lot of money,” he says.

On other occasions, he’s given the team at an outside firm access to a particular matter in eDiscovery Point so that they can do their own searches and pull their own data. He understands that it’s expensive for the outside firm to do the eDiscovery. And with eDiscovery Point, “It becomes very interactive between myself and the external firm,” he says. The outside firm never has to take possession of the data. “They’re doing the search work, but I’m doing the administrative work. It’s professionally engaging, and it’s made my life so much easier.”

The most powerful feature of eDiscovery Point, says Goodall, is used when he needs to collaborate with colleagues who need to see his work. He can simply invite them to review a matter, and set restrictions on the specific documents those colleagues can view. “I can pull a PST file for an employee halfway around the world communicating in a different language, invite local counsel into my instance of eDiscovery Point, and have them do searches in the local language,” he says. “I never send them a file.” All of the items for review are held in the same location. He doesn’t have to worry about duplicate searches, or duplicate files or folders floating around. He can maintain a certain level of supervisory and administrative authority. “No data ever goes anywhere,” he says. “That has made it incredibly secure and efficient for me.”

It’s also more collaborative. Goodall can let the local counsel know that there is potentially a problem in their business, and give them access to a matter in eDiscovery Point. Because the local counsel knows their business in detail, he or she can get to the bottom of it much more quickly than Goodall could on his own.

So far, local counsel have collaborated with Goodall on searches in different foreign languages. If the local counsel finds something particularly interesting, they can flag it, and then walk Goodall through it over the phone.

On a large case, says Goodall, a document review that might previously have taken him a week can now often be wrapped up in a day.“I can think strategically instead of tactically,” he says. Because it’s so much easier to keep track of documents in eDiscovery Point, he says, the software “allows me to focus on the big picture.” He can develop a relationship map or a timeline much more quickly.

About Robert Goodall

Robert Goodall is responsible for leading processes to investigate and resolve regulatory compliance issues. He started with Thomson Reuters in 2005 as manager of corporate compliance and has held the positions of director of corporate compliance in Minneapolis/St. Paul and director of audit (international) in London. Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, he worked for Pitney Bowes and CSX.

Mr. Goodall is a Certified Fraud Examiner who is fluent in Japanese and has an MBA from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. He has served on the boards of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the UK Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and he is currently treasurer and a trustee for the Hampstead School of Art in London.

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