– by David Kinnear
Some subscribe to a “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. David Barrett (Dave) isn’t one of them. It’s one of many reasons why I found our conversation at Legal Week so enjoyable – an intimate one-on-one chat with the CEO of QDiscovery who presents such a grounded view of both their past and their unmistakably exciting future.
As many of you will know by now, we get to sit down and chat with some of the best leadership in the modern legal industry so, it’s fair to say, we’ve seen a thing or two. We can smell authenticity a mile away – and we can smell fake a hundred miles away. Go figure. It’s not hard.
Authentic is hard to do; it takes time. There are no shortcuts. It often starts from humble beginnings and a lot of sleepless nights and back-breaking work. It’s familiar with starting small and sweating the details while the acorn of opportunity slowly grows into a mighty oak. There’s little luck involved – though it never goes amiss.
And Dave gets it. He’s done it. And he’s done it with a group of colleagues who have shared the journey. It’s what makes this team rather special.
What sets the leadership team apart – and, in turn, the organization – is the shared experience of hard work and consistently applying lessons learned in the further development of their offering for clients. What distinguishes them is the emphasis on culture – an insistence on quality of inter-personal communications, which extends beyond to the way in which they seek to serve clients. What becomes very evident in conversation is the emphasis on authenticity, which makes their experience even more valuable for clients.
As Dave notes, QDiscovery is “laser-focused on customer service.” It’s a point of humor that he loves that phrase and its application. Humor aside, it’s something that more organizations might heed. A painstaking, diligent and progressive mindset to helping clients is clearly paying dividends for this team. As he describes it: “At the end of the day, we are a services company, not a technology company. Our focus on client service is a direct result of that recognition. Even though the industry emphasis is currently on the newest and greatest technology, our focus is on how we use that tech to better serve our clients.”
A well-credentialed mid-cap player to be reckoned with in the industry, QDiscovery has an almost endless runway of opportunity. As law firms and corporate legal departments turn increasingly to technology – especially in the mid-market – there is a knowledge gap. With so many demands on time and resources, organizations need the help of a client-centric services partner that can help them stay on top of things. The agility that QDiscovery brings is matched by its stated goal to be a beacon of expertise for its clients weathering eDiscovery storms.
So what does Dave see in the road ahead? In the near-term, David summarizes: “There is a growing interest on the part of organizations in cost predictability and cost management. Not just cutting costs for the sake of it – but trying to get a better handle on it and manage the variations throughout the case lifecycle better, avoiding unexpected surprises.” He also notes a certain measure of anxiety among buyers about the vast amount of technology in the space and the inevitable questions that circulate about which to use. “Who do you partner with when there are so many options?” – it’s a reasonable question for buyers to ask. “We spend a lot of time evaluating technology. At the end of the day, you can only be good at so many things, so we choose to focus on those that clearly meet our clients’ needs and help us stand apart as a services provider.”
He has thought carefully about how you navigate this space. Says Dave: “It’s about being more than just ‘good’ or ‘good enough’. We like to innovate. We call it the Q Way.” Speaking of the teamwork within and outside the organization, he notes: “We don’t just work. We relate and collaborate. We like to be the people you want to work with.”
In so doing, Barrett has embraced some of the most powerful success ingredients of the coming decade in the legal industry. If great tech is a given, as it often is, then organizational culture and the relationship this creates with clients – that matters enormously. The old adage is that people will forget everything you say but they will not forget how you made them feel. And this is so true. Some would argue that a great deal of legal technology is becoming increasingly generic – forgettable, you might say. So what is truly memorable for clients – is how you make them feel.
The evidence suggests he’s onto something here. The greatest source of new business for the organization is referrals – clients who feel so good about their work that they bring others to the table. In an industry that has become very transactional in some parts, Dave speaks to the “long term relationship that clients seek and value. There is a sense that the QDiscovery team is in the boat rowing with them.”
So why do clients feel good about working with this team? Aside experience and expertise, what is the lightning rod driving success on the frontline? In a word? Trust. It’s very apparent that clients know they can trust this organization and we can see why. It starts at the top – the tone is set by a CEO who has earned the trust that is offered.
High Performance Counsel: The authenticity in Dave’s leadership is palpable – and it’s reflected in the organization itself. Great things don’t happen overnight. It takes vision, time, effort and resources – the commitment to being the best. This is surely their time to shine – in an industry that is well-served by their timely focus on excellence in client service.
“At the end of the day, we are a services company, not a technology company. Our focus on client service is a direct result of that recognition. Even though the industry emphasis is currently on the newest and greatest technology, our focus is on how we use that tech to better serve our clients.”
“We don’t just work. We relate and collaborate. We like to be the people you want to work with.”
“There is a growing interest on the part of organizations in cost predictability and cost management. Not just cutting costs for the sake of it – but trying to get a better handle on it and manage the variations throughout the case lifecycle better, avoiding unexpected surprises.”
And a little fun…
As we closed out our time together, our conversation turned to a few of our fun wildcard questions. There is no right or wrong answer to these – but the answers can surely be fun. So here we are:
HPC: Where would you pick to eat: fancy restaurant or food truck?
DB: Food truck
HPC: What is your favorite movie?
DB: The Shawshank Redemption
HPC: What is your favorite activity – when you’re not changing the world?
HPC: What is the one book you would want to have with you on a desert island?
DB: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
HPC: Which would you pick: a Ferrari, a Prius – or a bicycle?
DB: I’ll take the Ferrari!
CEO | QDiscovery
As QDiscovery’s CEO, Dave drives the company’s strategic vision and oversees its blend of service offerings. Dave’s primary objective is to continue building upon a strong, experienced and committed team that has earned its reputation as a best-in-class provider. Dave’s 20+ years of experience in the eDiscovery industry include executive positions at DTI, EED and Daticon. Prior to joining QDiscovery, Dave served on the senior leadership team at DTI where he directed a team of Managing Partners, Sales Executives and service delivery teams.