Thought Leaders – Data 2022: Erick Gunawan

“Erick provided excellent practical, timely and commercial solutions on e-discovery issues” “He has strong customer engagement skills and very strong technical skills” “He has dedication to his clients and the ability to engage directly with clients”

Questions & Answers

Erick Gunawan is the head of BRG’s e-discovery and forensics practice in Asia–Pacific. He has over 18 years of experience in computer forensics, compliance investigations, crypto tracing and investigations, dawn raid readiness, eDiscovery, and management of document review in both contentious and non-contentious matters. Mr. Gunawan is a testifying expert in the area of computer forensics and e-discovery and has sworn in Australia, United Kingdom, United States and most recently Grand Cayman, courts. He is a certified Legal Lean Sigma practitioner and holds various computer forensics accreditations.

What inspired you pursue a career as a data expert?

I got into the e-discovery and computer forensics industry by chance, working as a programmer in one of the leading data mining companies in Sydney in the early 2000s. Let’s be honest, no kid would grow up thinking that they wanted to be an e-discovery expert! Having dealt with large amount of data day in and out made me think that there was so much potential in terms of managing, grouping, transforming and presenting data in a more accessible format. I have remained in the industry ever since and worked with a number of legal and consultancy firms, trying to help clients and colleagues to find ways to collect, process and present data in the most useful ways.

Looking back over your career, what is the most memorable case you have been a part of?

My first ever court attendance is when I was working with a law firm as an analyst and I spent my first day setting up around 10 laptops and monitors in the courtroom for one of the hearings of one of the biggest media disputes in Australia. I also had the privilege to deliver trolleys of paper boxes containing court bundles into the courtroom for the same matter. I was thinking, surely a lot of these papers could have been digitised and stored as files for barristers and legal teams to view on screen when they are in court. It would have been a much better use of their laptops than just checking their emails! Funnily enough, that case turned into an electronic proceeding about six months later, and I had the opportunity to be part of a team that worked on one of the first court cases in the country, delivered fully electronically.

What challenges has remote working presented to your forensic technology practice?

Performing forensic data collection remotely can present challenges, especially in cases where target custodians are uncooperative. Since mid-2020, my team and I had developed various in-house technologies to conduct remote collection sensibly and with minimal interaction required from the receiving end. This includes deployment of automated searching and extraction technology targeting specific evidence on an individual’s devices and development of connectors to various email servers to allow a mass collection of email data with just a press of a button.

How have the roles of corporate counsel evolved over the past few years in the context of litigations and investigations?

Corporate clients are becoming more aware of how new technologies can ease litigation costs, such as tools that cut down review timeframes. Instead of junior lawyers racking up billable hours manually reviewing documents, corporate clients are asking law firms for innovations in this area. Consequently, law firms are taking on risk, developing new tools and hiring innovation managers to incorporate technology for these processes.

Corporate counsel are increasingly focused on legal operations rather than providing legal advice. They work constantly with other business units within the organisation and sometimes even project manage the whole data collection and document review processes. This workflow makes robust data governance even more critical, ensuring efficient data identification and retrieval exercises in the event of a litigation or regulatory response.

How do you effectively prepare for testimony?

Obviously, a thorough understanding of the matter is essential but there are other key areas that are equally important. Ensure your CV is up to date and accurate! Often, there is a delay between when you write your report and the actual deposition. You want to ensure you are prepared to answer any questions that might arise regarding your qualifications. Visual aids can also be helpful for the audience to understand complex issues that otherwise cannot be explained clearly in words. Practice with example scenarios, including both those that support and contradict your arguments, and present answers in a succinct and clear manner. Practice your body language in front of a mirror and always portray confidence!

As the head of BRG’s e-discovery and forensics practice, what are your main priorities for the next five years?

I started the practice back in 2020 right at the start of the pandemic. The support from our clients and the wider BRG network have been fantastic. We have since invested heavily in expanding our technology capabilities to include remote collections, crypto investigations, and virtual hearings. We have also expanded our e-discovery hosting footprints in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China.

We are also increasing our investment in our forensic accounting capabilities, which allows ourselves to deliver end-to-end investigation services, also with our valuation and damages experts on the dispute side. I also see us continuing to grow our regional footprints in APAC, with Japan and Korea being the key priorities.

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Build and nurture your relationships early in your career as your network will grow with you.

Global Leader

“Erick provided excellent practical, timely and commercial solutions on e-discovery issues” “He has strong customer engagement skills and very strong technical skills” “He has dedication to his clients and the ability to engage directly with clients”

“A very professional, knowledgeable and personable individual” “He has deep knowledge of e-discovery lifecycles, processes, software and best practices” “Erick is excellent at strategising on evidence management”

National Leader