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Estradas niche is electronic discovery
“It was kind of a good way for me to start my career, earn some money, get a sense for what that industry was like, and figure out if it was something I was going to like long term,” recalled Estrada, president of D.C. Estrada Information Technology. His company provides counsel and training in e-discovery and legal preparedness to attorneys, paralegals, compliance and technology professionals and support staff.
It intrigued Estrada that he could create sites on the Web that were viewed by thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people. And information technology seemed to dovetail nicely with his technical and analytical mind, he said.
Estrada earned a B.S. degree in information systems from Grand Valley State University. Upon graduation, he immediately launched his IT consulting firm. His first foray into the corporate world was in 2002 as a contractor for IBM Corp.’s Business Continuity and Recovery Services Center in Sterling Forest, N.Y. The following year he served as a contractor for IBM’s Data Engineering and Cryptography Systems Group in Austin, Texas. Two years later he had the opportunity to work as a contractor for Steelcase Corp.’s SAP Procurement Systems.
A few years ago, Estrada decided to seek out a niche in a particular industry: He looked at law, health care and financial services. In talking with some attorneys, he discovered that electronic discovery was a new and growing area of law. Legal technology piqued his interest, and he already had some experience doing high-level business policy type work for IBM.
“It was an up-and-coming field, and with the changes in the law that were being passed, it seemed like a good idea to jump on the bandwagon at that point,” Estrada said. “That was three years ago.”
Estrada’s company works with law firms and corporate clients to provide what he refers to as “reactive consulting.” About half his clients are law firms in the Grand Rapids area. A couple are located in Detroit. Half of his client base consists of corporations in the $100 million to $50 billion annual revenue range.
Estrada and his staff of four work with corporate clients to address that risk and help them write policy and institute processes internally that make it cheaper and easier to collect and produce electronic evidence. He prefers to work with clients before a lawsuit hits or before the next one comes along, so they’ll have the processes and systems in place to deal with it.
His company, for example, recently led the litigation preparedness effort for a multi-million dollar manufacturing company and wrote policy recommendations for global e-mail retention and archiving for the company’s 16,000 e-mail users in 35 countries. Also recently, his company managed the e-discovery process in bankruptcy litigation against a major national retailer and provided e-discovery and litigation preparedness training to a mid-sized Michigan law firm.
“We decrease litigation costs, oftentimes very significantly. E-discovery has become the most expensive part of litigation, and it’s becoming more and more expensive as companies grow and amass more and more electronic data.”
In addition to managing his growing business, since 2006, Estrada has authored three books on e-discovery. He’s been on the lecture circuit since then, as well, making e-discovery presentations to such groups as the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers, Michigan State University Business Law Society, the Association of Legal Administrators, Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and The Right Place Inc.
Estrada co-hosts the monthly BizTech radio program on Michigan Public Radio on “The WGVU Morning Show” with Shelly Irwin. He’s also busy these days establishing the International Legal Technology Association to bring legal technology support people in West Michigan together.
Estrada has lived in Germany, which is his mother’s homeland, in Colombia, South America, which is his father’s homeland, and in Spain. He speaks fluent German and Spanish. He said he stayed in Grand Rapids after college because he had built a network of friends and contacts who he knew he could rely on for help when he was starting his business.
“Michigan has a negative reputation for economic reasons, but I still think this is a phenomenal place to build a business and to live,” Estrada remarked.
“We have one of the fastest growing technology sectors in the country and there’s a lot of software and IT innovation that’s happening here.”
Looking ahead, Estrada envisions his company expanding beyond the Midwest over the next decade.
“I think we’re positioned uniquely in the market in the sense that there are not a lot of e-discovery vendors that provide consulting like we do,” Estrada said.
“A lot of companies out there that do e-discovery sell software tools and data processing. We are exclusively a consulting firm, and that’s going to set us apart.”