Skip to content

Live from TechShow: David Cowen of The Cowen Group

March 13, 2008

Our live coverage from ABA TechShow 2008 continues this afternoon, with another special guest: David Cowen, managing partner at The Cowen Group.

Extremely knowledgeable in e-discovery matters and an all-around great guy to chat with, David and his company specialize in staffing issues for large firms throughout the United States and Europe.

Reached in his hotel room during some downtime earlier today, David spoke on how informative TechShow has been so far from a e-discovery perspective, and where he sees blogs going within that industry. See the full interview after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: Why are you at TechShow? What prompted you to come?

David Cowen: I hit all of the major conferences during the year: Legal Tech, Legal Tech West, as well as ILSA and some of the smaller conferences. This is the first time I’ve come out to the ABA TechShow.

Primarily, I’m looking to hear the voice of the the small/mid-sized law firms throughout the United States. What are their challenges? What does the leadership look and sound like? Because my primary job is a talent scout and a headhunter. I’m constantly looking to see who the leaders are in the industry, so that when a client comes to me and says, “hey, we’re looking for a senior director or a senior partner or a senior manager, can you help us find one?”, I actually know who the best and the brightest are in the market. This is as much information gathering as it is talent scouting on who is up-and-coming in the market.

2. Rob La Gatta: For talent scouting, can blogs serve any purpose? Has their proliferation changed the way you do your job?

David Cowen: In this particular market (the small/mid-sized firms) I’m not finding a lot of savvy bloggers. But for me, it’s important…this is information that I want to blog about. I want to share my thoughts on what I’m seeing here.

Blogging for me is about sharing my thoughts on the market, whether it’s the space itself – the law firm space, the vendor space, the corporate space – or about careers in that space….careers within those silos, if you will. There are certainly people here from the corporate space and the vendor space, and I just came away from probably the best presentation I’ve seen in a long time.

2a: Rob La Gatta: What was it?

David Cowen: This was a presentation by a fellow by the name of Bryan Melchionda. He’s a client services manager at EED [Electronic Evidence Discovery, Inc.] in New York, and he gave a presentation on project management/process methodology, and how you really need to look at e-discovery and litigation support from a project management, process methodology standpoint.

He really had it nailed down: he talked about what you need to do to get through this process, and how a project manager really needs to sit in the middle of the law firm, the client and the vendor…and how that’s not really happening. I agree with him. I think that’s a level of sophistication that’s missing in the marketplace today.

3. Rob La Gatta: Overall, would you say that blogs have taken hold in the e-discovery realm?

David Cowen:I would say that in the e-discovery space, blogs are there…but people don’t have enough time to read them as they should.

People in the e-discovery space are doing 12,14,16 hour days. And even with RSS feeds and newsreaders and summaries, I don’t find a lot of people are really plugged into that. Now, some of the thought leaders are beginning to write and blog. Mark Reichenbach from MetaLINCS comes to mind, and of course there are others. But I don’t find a lot of non-vendors and non-lawyers reading and writing blogs.

In other words, the guys that are actually in the ED lit support space – managers, directors, analysts, supervisors, coordinators, specialists in lit support – I find on the listservs, very interested in “how do I solve this problem?” [But] I don’t find the majority of the market plugged into the blogosphere.

I think that needs to change, by the way; I think that if you want to continue to drive your career forward, if you want to continue to have career progression, you need to read more and more. You need to read about what’s going on. Not the technology read; the process read, the business read, the legal read. And I think that content comes from a number of the really terrific blogs out there.

4. Rob La Gatta: Aside from the knowledge potential, do you see there to be strong networking possibilities with blogs? If so, do you see that as being valuable?

David Cowen: I certainly see it being valuable; but I don’t think you have enough middle manager talent developed yet in the e-discovery space where they value it yet. Is there value? Yes. Does the space value it? Not yet, because it’s not mature enough.

Your technical guys are not going to blog and network that way. What do I see? I see them using LinkedIn a lot. They want the immediacy of a network, an immediate network that yields business contacts and business sales and commerce, not necessarily knowledge for knowledge sake. Knowledge for knowledge sake and knowledge for career sake is really more along the lines of a middle/upper level management question. And I don’t see the majority of the people that are in that analyst role doing it.

5. Rob La Gatta:

Going back to TechShow; are there any panelists you’re looking forward to seeing or folks you’re looking forward to meeting?

David Cowen: I’ve got a list of people that I have not yet met that are on my radar screen.

  • I’m looking forward to meeting Dennis Kennedy, he’s speaking tomorrow at 1:00…
  • Browning Marean from DLA Piper, their e-discovery director…
  • …and I’d really like to meet David Cohen from K & L Gates. He’s their e-discovery chairman, and I’m very interested to know what K & L Gates is doing around e-discovery litigation support – from a process standpoint, from a staffing standpoint – and what his view is from the inside. He’s one of the few senior-level partners here at the show, and I’m very interested to hear his take on where he thinks things are going. K & L Gates is certainly a market leader; they’re one of the top 10 law firms in the country, and they’re building out an e-discovery litigation support capability. My clients (Sullivan & Cromwell, Davis Polk, Sherman & Sterling to name a few) have built this out as well. But I don’t know what K & L Gates has done, and I’m very interested to hear his thoughts.
Posted in: