When Bluecurrent Inc., a small Texas-based technology company, needed help suing Dell Inc. over allegations of theft of trade secrets and copyright infringement, their greatest litigation tools were provided by two engineers named Michael J. Dolan and John C. M. Thickett. Dolan and Thickett own an Austin-based company by the name of Tusker Group.
In a classic David vs. Goliath match, Dell was represented by one of the largest most prestigious law firms in Texas, while Bluecurrent was represented by a very capable but small Austin law firm, DiNovo Price Ellwanger & Hardy LLP. With four partners and 2 associates, Bluecurrent’s law firm seemed outgunned by Dell’s firm, which currently employs nearly 1,000 lawyers worldwide. It hardly seemed like a fair fight, but the Dell lawyers soon found out that Tusker Group leveled the playing field for Bluecurrent and gave them better-than-even odds of prevailing in the litigation, simply because they could afford the cost of litigation.
Dolan and Thickett are engineers who met while students in Harvard’s MBA program. As engineers they are trained in such quality control matters as statistical process control and designing systems that work the same way every time. After finishing at Harvard, both Dolan and Thickett spent a number of years developing foreign manufacturing plants designing quality control systems and efficient manufacturing processes. In 2002, the friends decided to start their own small business.
With their engineer hats on, they looked at many different industries in the U.S. where they could use their flow charts, cause-and-effect analysis training, and all the other engineering tools they carry in their briefcases. They settled on the legal profession because they felt there were potentially billions of dollars to be saved by businesses if they could begin to unbundle some of the services that cost businesses so much money in litigation and discovery.
During their research phase, they discovered that 58 to 90 percent of all litigation costs are spent in what is known as document review. That is where each side gets to see every shred of paper and bit of electronic data a company possesses that could possibly relate to the litigation. It is estimated that the top 100 litigation firms charge their clients between $30 billion and $40 billion in document review annually.
The Tusker Group was established in May of 2003 to provide companies like Bluecurrent a financial advantage in the document review portion of litigation.
Dolan’s company is not a law firm, nor does it provide any legal services, yet Tusker is poised to take tens of millions of dollars of revenue away from big law firms in the next year or two.
The Tusker Group outsources document review to lawyers it employs in India. Tusker provides numerous technology tools to make the process of document review faster, more effective, and more secure.
In the Bluecurrent case, Tusker used a group of Indian lawyers to review over 400,000 (mostly electronic) Dell documents related to the case. Tusker completed its work ahead of schedule and under budget. Many people who have dealt with outsourced customer service personnel know that results can vary, but Tusker employs well-trained, loyal Indian attorneys and provides them with the most state-of-the-art tools to do their document review.