Gavels & Gigabytes

Karen Brookman, president, is transforming the legal profession in the digital age.

Toronto’s Commonwealth Legal Inc. makes it easier for lawyers to manage electronic evidence

Commonwealth Legal has found its niche by connecting the legal and technology industries. However, despite its unique market, it still faces the same challenges as most companies, keeping abreast of innovation and finding ways to grow.

Located in Toronto, Commonwealth Legal works exclusively with law firms, corporations, and government agencies that are involved in high-risk litigation, helping them find cost-effective, secure, and simple ways to deal with the electronic evidence in their case.

“If you think of an organization today, and where information as evidence might reside, consider the fact that most of us communicate today using text messages, e-mails, voicemail, and social-networking sites,” says Karen Brookman, president of Commonwealth Legal. “The majority of critical business documents are electronic.”

Today, information is ubiquitous and complex. Commonwealth Legal acts as a mediator to all this information. “We help our clients identify where to locate potentially relevant data, and then [we] help them preserve it, search it, and review it in a way that is meaningful and simple for the legal team,” Brookman says.

One difficulty, though, is that most lawyers are not early adopters of technology and are generally not technologically savvy. The industry has been comfortable working with paper and processing information the same way for many years. Thus, the ability to integrate technology with the legal process and traditional methodologies is a core strength for Commonwealth Legal.

“Lawyers are risk-adverse and don’t want to do anything that’s going to put their case, timeline, professional reputation, or clients’ best interests in jeopardy,” Brookman says. “We want to make sure the lawyers feel really comfortable and confident, and that they trust the technology they are using to meet their legal obligations.”

In addition, Commonwealth Legal has to ensure that its solution is also a good resource for a law firm’s corporate clients—notably that it’s viewed as innovative, practical, cost effective, and efficient.

There are a lot of technology options (and price points) available on the market today that are also continuously changing. As a solution provider, Commonwealth Legal must navigate the market and present which products are best for each individual client.

For each of their lawyer clients, Karen Brookman and the Commonwealth Legal team tailor new technologies to help simplify complex legal processes.

“It’s very overwhelming for the average client when they see hundreds of options that they can buy, so we have developed and packaged what we refer to internally as the Swiss Army Knife of litigation-support solutions,” Brookman says. “We can cut through the confusion and deliver a well-integrated package of the best technology tools to make it easy to manage electronic evidence.”

This “toolkit” approach has come in handy as Commonwealth Legal searches for ways to grow and service its client base, both across Canada and internationally. Brookman explains that no two clients and no two litigations are the same, and as the company grows into other jurisdictions, laws are also unique in each territory. In addition to the distinctiveness of each client and case, Commonwealth Legal is continuously dealing with customer turnover, because once a litigation case is complete, it may be a long time before the client requires litigation support or e-discovery services again.

“There’s a real need for innovative, reliable, well-designed technology solutions in the market today. However, most corporations don’t say, ‘We can’t wait to invest more money in litigation-related expenses,’” Brookman says. “If anything, I think they’re saying, ‘How can I do this with the least disruption to my business and spend as little as possible?’ We are constantly investigating how to provide the best technology solutions at an affordable price point. The need is real and urgent for our clients, and we are there to give them confidence and successful results at every stage of the litigation process.”