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eDiscovery Leaders Live
September 18th

eDiscovery Leaders: Wendell Jisa and Jay Leib of Reveal

George Socha
George Socha

eDiscovery Leaders: Wendell Jisa and Jay Leib of Reveal

Each week on #ACEDSBlogLive, I will be chatting with a leader in eDiscovery or related areas. For the September 18 session, we had a twofer. I got online with Wendell Jisa and Jay Leib. Wendell is the Chief Executive Officer and Jay is the new Executive Vice President, Innovation & Strategy at Reveal – key members of the company’s executive leadership team. We talked about my arrival at Reveal, Reveal’s acquisition of NexLP, and where Reveal is headed.

Recorded live on September 18, 2020 | Transcription below

Note: This content has been edited and condensed for clarity.

George Socha:

Good morning and welcome to this, the 5th edition of #ACEDSBlogLive with George Socha. We’ve done this for, obviously 5 weeks now, changing out the format each time, a little bit. This week what we’re going to do is bring on board with me two of my new colleagues, Wendell Jisa, who is CEO at Reveal, and Jay Leib, who is Executive Vice President, Innovation & Strategy. Before they join us, a couple of notes for you. You will note, or should note there is a comment column, we welcome your comments. The more comments you give to us the more we can figure out how to talk about things that actually matter or are of interest to you. And then secondly, before I bring them online, Jay was so kind as to point out to me that I needed to update my headset. So, should anybody have recommendations for a better quality headset than this $20.00 pair I had sitting around and just started using, I welcome all suggestions.

With that, I would like to turn this over to Wendell. Wendell is the CEO at Reveal. He brings 20 years of technology and service experience to that position, starting out as the Founder and CEO of Landmark and then after that was a Co-Founder of Reveal, where he has been since then and where I am very pleased to have just recently joined him.

Why I Joined Reveal

Wendell Jisa:

Thanks George. Hi Jay. I think that what’s most important about this right now, is yet again announcing that you have joined Reveal as Senior Vice President of Brand Awareness, bringing your experience and your ability to help shepherd Reveal into our next-generation technology objective. I think that having you to go out there and be the voice and the face of this company, is incredibly important to me personally but also to everyone else that’s involved with Reveal. Secondly, having you involved with our development team and the strong voice on where that product heads is also important. Thank you for welcoming me, but I want to welcome you again to Reveal, because I couldn’t be more excited.

Give Fifteen Minutes Back

George Socha:

Thank you very much Wendell and I am quite excited as well. I spent four months looking at where I wanted to go next in my career and I wanted to share some of the thoughts about why it is that I ended up at Reveal instead of any of the various other options out there. We’ll start with something that ties into the picture behind me here. If you look over my head there, there is a batik on the back wall. It is a piece of cloth with the picture on there, formed by painting layers of wax, applying dyes, scraping off or melting out the wax and applying new dyes. That I have had it with me since I returned from West Africa in 1983, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Part of what I have been trying to do throughout my career, with the creation of EDRM and a number of other areas, is to figure out how to give 15 minutes back. What I mean by that, I worked for about 15 years on a set of “fight for the company life” lawsuits. We went through a succession of in-house counsel because for most of them, they looked at that responsibility as a potential career killer rather than career enhancer and moved on to other things as quickly as they could.

I was having lunch with the then most recent in-house attorney, who said to me,

You need to understand where the money that pays you comes from. We spent a lot of money on your law firm, we’d be spending more if it were a law firm from either coast, but it’s a lot of money. It doesn’t come out of the share price, we hope it never does. It doesn’t come from the pockets of senior management and I doubt it ever will. It comes from the pocket of that poor worker, who at the end of the week, instead of going off to a bar, a ball game, a restaurant, home to family and friends, has to stay at work for yet another hour. Figuratively of course, but stay at work for yet another hour.

Go to Software, Young Man

What I’ve been trying to do each step of the way is figure out how to improve how we conduct the process of litigation, especially discovery and especially eDiscovery, so that that person can go home 15 minutes earlier. And one way to do that, takes me to the next point, is focusing on the software side of things. The better the software, the more effective it is at helping attorneys and allied professionals achieve the objectives they need to accomplish in litigation, the better the chances that at least some of that 15 minutes and who knows, maybe even 25 minutes, gets given back.

I was looking for a software provider to join. Having worked in a couple law firms, having worked as a service provider, I thought that was a great next step. I wasn’t looking for just any software provider, I wanted a well-positioned one, which was what took me to Reveal in particular. Little did I know – and we’ll come to this in a moment, by my foreshadowing here with the introduction of Jay – little did I know at that time and as I was initially talking with Reveal, that Reveal was in the process of acquiring NexLP. Even without that, part of what drew me to Reveal was where they were going with the technology they’ve developed, with the acquisitions they’ve made, the look and feel of the platform, the sense I got of the organization and the people working there, as a place that was well positioned to make some major strides moving forward. It was, to the second-to-last point, a company that’s going places, and with the acquisition of NexLP, even more going places.

The People

Finally, what was I looking for, and in some ways the most important part: An organization with great people, a great culture. Without that, none of those other things are going to happen anyway and really who wants to work in any other type of place than that.

So, with that and the “why I joined Reveal” done, I’m going to turn the mike back to Wendell who can introduce Jay. (And by the way, I still don’t see any recommendations for headsets.)

Jay Leib and the Acquisition of NexLP

Wendell Jisa:

Thanks George. Yeah, you know, I think it’s definitely important not to ignore Jay. If I do ignore Jay, I’m sure he’ll be the first person to send me a private chat. One of the really neat things about what we’re doing at Reveal right now, is we’re building something great. I truly believe that great people need great technology and great technology needs great people.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet Jay a couple years ago. We actually officed out of the same building here in Chicago. We got to know each other, our teams got to know each other, we worked together, we partnered together, we integrated together. As things progressed, it became more and more evident that if Reveal was going to take the next step to lead the charge and introduce a completely new next-generation eDiscovery platform that is powered by artificial intelligence, we needed to have the best artificial intelligence in the industry and that’s where Jay comes in.

Welcoming Jay and the acquisition of NextLP to Reveal, was probably one of the highlights of my career and the things I’ve achieved. What’s been great about it is the leadership and the mind that he brings to the table. I’ve never met anyone who thinks more creatively than Jay with regard to where the technology needs to go and I’m really excited. So, with that, Jay Leib is joining us as well and he is our Executive Vice President of Innovation and Strategy, working with both development and sales and marketing to make sure that George and myself are doing the right things and being in front of the right people, to take Reveal to the top of the pile.

Jay Leib:

Well, thanks Wendell. Very humbling, the kind words you say. But I want to do a little bit of a love fest for George here. Back in the day, the early days of eDiscovery we were all in the wilderness and there was someone, and you know, George as well as Tom – I want to give credit to EDRM co-founder Tom Gelbmann as well – but George really brought us out of the wilderness. George with the vision and the thought leadership around the EDRM, was able to take our humble technology people and be able to help us connect to buyers, by giving a common discussion platform around “What are we trying to accomplish together as an industry?” Software, technology, practitioners, lit support, all these together, what is the common platform we could talk about? I was intimidated by George, I’ve got to be honest, years ago.

We would make a sojourn to the Twin Cities every year. George and Tom would be up there like rock stars and they would ask us for assignments and push us. And it was just amazing. And you know…. [connection lost]

Jay Leib:

I’m back. And that’s the thing, at NexLP, we always wanted to dream big and execute fast. When we had the opportunity to not only extend our partnership with Reveal but actually joined forces, that’s what really got us all pumped up. I’m someone that I don’t like to have limits. We like to be able to push as hard as we can. To George’s point, how could we make the lives of our customers better, faster, easier? What can they do to accomplish more? That’s what we challenged the data science team, the AI team: How can we dream big and execute fast? When we joined a team like Reveal that has the thought leadership and Wendell, now bringing on George with the vision and kind of quiet confidence, we have brilliant people, including our CTO Matthew Brothers-McGrew.

Really, the sky’s the limit for what we can do to help our clients on a daily basis, just get a little bit better, a little bit faster and help their professional lives in whatever way we can do to contribute. Absolutely.

George Socha:

Okay, one of the things I remember from those meetings, is your work on things like the Search Intent Framework. And I believe you were pretty active in the Search project as well, right?

Jay Leib:

Yeah, the Search project… well, so many things. I still remember my Juicy Lucy hamburgers from back in the day of Minnesota as well. A lot of good times in this. The Search Intent Framework, which a lot of great people worked on. The CARRM, which wasthe first group that tried to put TAR into a true framework for discussion and workflow, etc. So, a lot of great people. Yes, I was part of it, I helped lead it, but a lot of great people along the way on there. Really, again, I go back to the EDRM. It was the forum that you and Tom created that allowed for creativity, took the vendors out of it, and put us as a community together. That’s why I’m so excited and pleased. Again, it was a surprise to me as well and an honor in my career to be now a colleague of yours, George. So, first you’re a rock star, and now you’re a colleague and I love it. I honestly love it.

George Socha:

For the folks who are typing in, now’s a good time, you’ve got Wendell here, you’ve got Jay here, and we’ve got a few more minutes available; anything you want to know from them? Let me know.

The Reveal Rocketship

Wendell Jisa:

I’m listening to you two talk and I’m sitting and thinking to myself, “How fantastic this is going to go”. I know you guys were working on the product roadmap the other day with Matthew and Irina Matveeva. I might even sit in on it, because when you think about what George did Jay, reflecting on what you just said, now we’re trying to do that again by leveraging the NextLP technology in combination with the Reveal platform. This is going to be powerful, this is going to be fun, which is really important. Creating something completely new all over again, George. It’s like your opus, right?

George Socha:

I’ve got high hopes for this. Lofty objectives and we’ll see how far we get with them, but I bet we’re going to go a long way.

Jay Leib:

Absolutely Wendell. I couldn’t have been more pumped up, coming out of a meeting. Like I said, dream big but execute fast. What George brought to the table was perspective. Perspective from a variety of angles, as a practitioner, as a thought leader, as a customer, as now someone who understands the realities of what you can accomplish as well. So, just a tremendous amount of very creative, what he brought to the table. Dr. Matveeva, Irina, who is our Chief Data Scientist, we talked yesterday. We both came out so impressed with the entire kind of combined team now. I’m a big superheroes guy. This is like the Avengers. All the greats coming together, united into one great team.

George Socha:

So, I guess Wendell, we need our Reveal capes now.

Wendell Jisa:

Halloween is coming up, right? The Reveal rocket ship and the Reveal cape, I guess.

Jay Leib:

Only Dr. Strange has a cape. We have any video game people on the line here? Probably a lot of old friends and new friends as well from the ACEDS community, but anyone wants to hit me up on some technology or superhero talk, I’d love to do it.

Oh that’s right, video games. They caught me as well, video games for sure. Every once in a while Wendell asks, “What did you do last night?” I’ll tell him I was playing video games. It drives him nuts.

Wendell Jisa:

I’ve never been a big video game guy, maybe Tecmo Bowl on Nintendo a long time ago, but other than that I just fall asleep at my kitchen table.

Jay Leib:

That’s a classic. And that’s the thing too, is it’s kind of funny, back in the ERDM days, I got to think of some of the players there, but we talked about the gamification of eDiscovery, how do you incentivize reviewers to go just slightly faster? We’ve actually through the years, not just NexLP and Reveal, but throughout the industry, we’ve added some of those elements into the design language of software. A little bit gamification. How do you incentivize people? When you think of reports, a burn down chart, these are all gamification elements to incentivize people to complete their task at hand. And so, I love looking to video games for inspiration for software, for technology overall.

George Socha:

Oh Jay, Sheila brings you a challenge then. Sheila, I’ll reword slightly: Take that concept, Jay, and figure out how to weave it into tailored attorney training.

Jay Leib:

There is a lot of conversation in our office about the revealing of a 2.0 certification program. We’re not quite there yet to do the big reveal of it, but soon. Absolutely, Sheila, and that’s why we have George as well. George has got to tell me how difficult it is when I think it’s easy.

George Socha:

If it weren’t difficult, someone else would have done it already anyway. Besides, if we’re so easy, why bother trying? Find a more challenging objective.

Jay Leib:

That’s right.

A New Direction and a New Certification

Wendell Jisa:

But when we think about that…. I was thinking about that yesterday Jay, because I know that you guys have been talking about it a lot. George, this is why it’s perfect that you’re a part of Reveal now. We’re going to be building this program, but it’s truly building, it’s not building a community, it’s building a completely new direction and trying to redesign the way people are going. We are starting from scratch on this. Trying to help people use our technology to give them 15 minutes back, as you mentioned earlier in the blog, George, is what’s so important. It will be fun, it will be fun to figure out how we eliminate the barrier of entry to use our AI within our eDiscovery platform.

Jay Leib:

Absolutely. One of the challenges too when you think of certification is, we at Reveal have clients all over the world, on just about every continent. You have to think about it from a platform perspective. How can they read menus, from drop downs to modals that pop up. And then you think of certification, how can we have it where it crosses culturally, where it crosses language, etc. That’s something we think quite a bit about. We have this global audience of the software and how can we be able to talk to them, talk to our clients that makes sense for them?

“Sounds like a great team. Any software where a lawyer has input in the design is a sure hit” – chat from participant.

George Socha:

I think one of the challenges in there has been that so much of the discussion, at least within the United States, about what to do with respect to eDiscovery has been tied to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which apply in the federal courts, and every state has its own system. Then you go outside of the United States and everybody else has their own systems. I think it is going to help so much to do what we’re focusing on here, which is to go back to core principles. What do we actually need to accomplish? How do we help move people more effectively to get to the point where they have a satisfactory resolution to their dispute, whatever the legal framework is, whatever the procedural rules might be. And then how do we put together a certification with that in mind? It’s achievable, but it’s a bit of a different focus.

Focus, Consistency, Transparency

Wendell Jisa:

And make it consistent. I go back to something that I feel is one of my strengths personally, and that’s focus and consistency and transparency. Giving our customers the opportunity to get the information they need very clearly, within what they need and understand it from the same perspective, is really important.

A lot of people maybe hadn’t known about Reveal very much before some of our moves this past year. The fact of the matter is that we really started out over in Europe and back toward our way back into the US. That was an intentional strategy for us to do, to come in through Europe, and it’s working. That’s why I’d say, at least 40 percent of our customers are international. Now with some of the moves we make in the US, we’re starting to see the big organizations of the U.S use us. But I don’t want to forget about where we can from and that’s why what you’re talking about George, is really important and personal for me.

George Socha:

Any final questions, comments from our audience? Otherwise I’m going to let Wendell and Jay get back to work.

Jay Leib:

Everyone is thinking of some video game or superhero analogies to tease us with.

George Socha:

I don’t see any yet, so Wendell, Jay, thank you very much for joining me on this. For the folks who are participating, you may know this already, but this is recording, it will be available online, and we will continue with these types of discussions with any number and wide variety of folks, I hope, next Friday and the Fridays that follow. Thank you Wendell, thank you Jay, thank you ACEDS, and of course thanks to everyone who’s joined us.

Wendell Jisa:

Yeah, thanks George. Have a great day.

Jay Leib:

Yeah, thank you so much. Thanks everyone.

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