When I asked Dave Hasman what a typical day at Bricker & Eckler was like, he laughed. In hindsight, this may seem like an odd question to ask a litigation support manager at a fast-paced, well-established law firm. But I was curious as to what went on inside the two-time Innovation Award winning firm.
The Bricker office sits in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and from the outside, could be mistaken for a Victorian Gothic-style church—armored with precise stone, carefully laid bricks and pointed, triangular arches. Built in the late 19th century and expanded in the early 20th century, this architectural wonder once served as the city’s original United States Post Office and Courthouse and was the first federal building in Columbus.
These days, however, the interior has been completely restored and Bricker has grown its footprint as one of the Midwest’s leading law firms—one committed to creating innovative technology solutions with their clients’ needs in mind. Dave, who has been a significant part of the litigation support arm since 2012, is a piece of the puzzle that is growing into tremendous success for the firm.
In 2013, Bricker was in the market for a new e-discovery platform. Dave, fresh on the job, remembers being attracted to Relativity’s tech-focused mindset and creative culture.
Dave recalls Relativity’s Bret Libigs foreshadowing Bricker’s success with the platform, saying “we’re going to help make you look good.” At the time, Dave says he had no idea what Bret was talking about. Now—nearly six years into the relationship—the stars have aligned for the firm in just the way Bret predicted.
It wasn’t until a few years after signing the Relativity contract, however, when Dave realized the platform is much more than a review tool. “We’re here every day to solve problems for our clients,” he said, when finally answering my question about the typical day in his office. “Every day that’s our focus, and we’re doing it with technology.”
A Seat at the Table
Pressures are constantly mounting for law firms to remain innovative, and most firms consider themselves innovative in one way or another. But innovation in practice remains hard to measure. Bricker has made strides to validate their innovation with meaningful results that span far beyond checking a box on an RFP.
“I believe the e-discovery market has become a bit stagnant,” Dave explained. “There may be new challenges with managing new sources of data, but, for the most part, everyone has figured out basic EDRM workflows that function and now we’re starting to see a new wave of law firms building technology solutions alongside their clients to solve complex issues.”
The Bricker team, which specifically consists of Dave Hasman, Lauren Curto, and Aron Fisher, is no stranger to building on Relativity. The firm has taken home the Relativity Innovation Award for two consecutive years. They credit the firm’s success with having the right tools, support, and resources to mold ideas into solutions that solve their customers’ problems.
What is unique about the Bricker approach, however, is they are creating inventive solutions that span beyond the legal industry.
“As a firm, we’ve stopped ourselves from thinking that every solution we develop has a specific legal issue tied to it,” Dave said. “Our focus is on technology and building tech that relates to legal issues—present or future—and trying to disturb the market a bit.”
Bricker’s unique ability to solve outside-the-box questions and challenges has established them as a go-to center for solving interesting and complex issues.
“We certainly don’t set out to build solutions to win awards, but it’s a nice bonus,” Dave said. “In some ways, however, having the recognition has allowed us to be invited into conversations where we wouldn’t have otherwise had a seat at the table. And we’re not going into these conversations as ‘law firm Bricker & Eckler,’ we’re going in as ‘Bricker Technology.’”
Creating a Career Grounded in Legal Technology
While most millennials (including myself) credit their introduction to computers and technology to huddling in computer labs fearing dysentery on the Oregon Trail, Dave started his technology career by jumping full force into legal software.
“When I was in high school, I was working with my family’s related business to help scan documents using iPro,” Dave recalls. “That’s how I was introduced to this whole industry.”
After making the leap to Bricker and bringing Relativity in house, Dave got to work seeing what he could create with the platform.
“For one of our first projects using Relativity, we built a very basic RDO application to help with bankruptcy issues,” Dave remembers. “It took me about a year or two to realize this isn’t just an e-discovery application and has the potential to be way more.”
As a 70-year-old, full-service law firm, the opportunities are not hard to find. The firm serves clients in the healthcare, energy, financial services, and public sector industries.
“The attorneys here are really brilliant, and my focus has always been on how to bring the tech and internal resources to the table to help us achieve the best outcomes,” he said.
Not Just Another Law Firm
When I asked Dave what was next for the firm, he told me, “we will fly the plane as we build it”—a humble answer coming from an award-winning firm.
“We’re learning from our successes and our mistakes, and we may not know where we will end up,” he said. “But our work and our results are what set us apart.”
With a laser-sharp focus on their commitment to technology and delivering efficient solutions to their customers, my guess is they will continue to create some pretty amazing things.
Dave added, “we want to show people we’re not just another law firm, but that we really do have the right people, the right technologies, and the right appetite to engineer a really creative solution.”
Kelly Velisek is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, where she specializes in customer advocacy.