Rick Seabrook and Greg Wildisen, once senior figures at Neota Logic, but who left last year, have resurfaced as the founders of a new eDiscovery and legal tech advisory venture called Panoram. They are joined by Martin Bonney, who previously worked at Epiq.
The new company will have three main areas of focus: legal tech advisory, ranging from legal tech education to project remediation (see below); hosted SaaS and Managed Legal Services (MLS), especially around eDiscovery; and tech engineering, especially around the use of Microsoft O365/Azure, Repstor and Nuix, again with a strong eDiscovery flavour.
Seabrook and Wildisen had both been Managing Directors at legal automation platform, Neota Logic. Both also had been well-known figures on the legal tech conference circuit and had helped Neota to build its business in the UK and Europe.
They had also both worked at Epiq. In which case, it’s no surprise that they have taken the decision to focus on eDiscovery. They are also based in the UK, which although not as large a centre for such work as the US, is seeing growing interest – at least until the lockdown stymied much of the world’s major litigation projects.
The new startup advisory business will also offer managed services, although it’s clearly only just getting started and will presumably take time to get a large staff up and running. But, with the lockdown, it’s perhaps good timing that they have not yet built up a large cost base with lots of staff at their London office.
As to additional hires at a senior level, it’s clear that they are still hoping to bring aboard other people. Several leading legal tech and innovation professionals have left their firms in recent months in London. For example, Linklaters’ Nakhoda team, which have not in all cases landed new roles yet, and we also have well-known innovation leads, such as Isabel Parker, who was most recently at Freshfields. Of course, nothing is confirmed as yet, but, it will be interesting to see who the fourth person is that the company is flagging up (see below).
If it was Parker, or another innovation lead from a large firm, one could see them having a strong focus on the legal tech advisory element of the company. But, we’ll see soon enough.
The company explained that they will be helping clients with:
- Education – executive immersion and coaching in digital concepts, latest technology trends and developments in leading practices.
- Research & Benchmarking – digital maturity diagnostics and benchmarking, identifying the capabilities legal teams need to get started.
- Digital Strategy – development of digital strategies and transformation roadmaps comprising all aspects of the change programme beyond the technology elements.
- Technology Selection – providing current state assessments and independently recommending technology platforms that suit your requirements.
- Transformation Management – developing and coordinating digital change programmes.
- Project Remediation – troubleshooting inflight projects and reshaping struggling technology initiatives.
And, in terms of software they especially want to work with:
- Repstor – Repstor’s Custodian for Legal product.
- Nuix – Nuix Discover the end-to-end eDiscovery application covering the entire eDiscovery workflow from collections to the courtroom.
And in terms of their managed services, they will offer:
- Early case assessment
- Full electronic discovery
- Matter lifecycle management
- Client collaboration
- Document automation
- Contract lifecycle automation
- Legal self-service solutions
- Knowledge management
All in all an ambitious move, and fascinating to see two senior directors from one of the best known legal tech companies, Neota Logic, leaving to create their own advisory business.
Is this a big deal? Well, it certainly adds some additional energy into the growing legal tech advisory market. The strong eDiscovery angle is unusual in the UK, at least when twinned with broader legal tech advice, and the aim to build managed legal services feels a little bit like a mini-Epiq, which would of course make sense as all three main lead personalities used to work there.
As to what they think. Seabrook told this site they are not doing much publicity at present, but a statement of their world view on their site stated: ‘For the foreseeable future, crisis, risk and business continuity management will have an increased priority, requiring an immediacy of focus on maintaining services and supporting those most in need. But beyond this present phase, a new normal will quickly emerge, in which old rulebooks are torn up and new norms take over.
‘The pressure on law firms and in-house legal teams to cope in these extraordinary times – to step up to the challenges that will be presented by a transformed, digital world – will be unprecedented. In this context, we believe legal teams must embrace digital technologies and new delivery models to meet these extraordinary challenges and help businesses and society move safely into the new normal. Digital is no longer an option; it is a necessity.‘
So, there you go. Good luck to the team and the mystery fourth member! Will be interesting to see where this goes.