Relativity Trace: A Corporate Compliance Tool For Legal Ops Pros

From time to time, I take a look at software and technology products and try to alert the legal community, particularly readers in legal operations, to solutions that really seem to solve a problem. Recently, I’ve been looking at corporate compliance tools, and I had an opportunity to speak with Jordan Domash, GM of Relativity Trace, who heads up the development and deployment of this corporate compliance application. Below is an edited distillation of our conversation.

What is Relativity Trace and what problem does it solve?

It’s a proactive communication surveillance application designed to help corporations comply with regulatory requirements, particularly in heavily regulated market segments like banking and finance. With Relativity Trace, companies can define their risks across enterprise communication channels and generate alerts that inform compliance officers and leadership that certain noncompliant communications are taking place.

What led to the development of Relativity Trace?

So, a lot of companies had been thinking about compliance in the same reactive sort of way that people think about e-discovery — an event occurs, they collect the data, and then they analyze that data in connection with a litigation or investigation. Relativity customers began to ask if they could leverage the features of the e-discovery platform to analyze data in real time. Since Relativity was already handling some of the downstream e-discovery processes and had developed capabilities to sift through large volumes of unstructured data, it made logical sense to listen to the customer and begin developing more left-side-of-the-EDRM tools like Relativity Trace.

Describe a typical use case for Relativity Trace.

If two traders at investment banks are colluding in communications between themselves on how they might profit on market-moving information — let’s say, there’s a huge order about to be placed that could actually impact a company’s stock price. That’s illegal if it’s done ahead of the order. What Relativity Trace can do is ingest the communication data, whether it’s from an email, audio, Slack, or text messages, or any other form of communication the system is configured to capture, and Relativity Trace will use predefined rules to identify communications between the traders who are colluding. That’s a classic use case.

What is Relativity Trace doing behind the scenes? What tech is it leveraging?

Relativity Trace leverages the speed of search and machine learning to identify text and metadata that may be of interest to a compliance officer. Relativity Trace connects to about 50 data sources — almost any form of communication in use on the market. An agent server leverages the power of the Relativity platform to automatically ingest and index the text and metadata of communications. Relativity Trace customers are governed by regulations, and they are essentially looking for very similar things — instances of fraud, trading improprieties, collusion. So, it’s easier to identify the risk and exposure points and match that risk to the regulatory framework to analyze a population of data — communications data.

Relativity Trace has 18 out-of-the-box rules-based policies that are purpose-built for financial institutions and other regulated organizations. These policies are based on the lexicon (words) used in the industry and other predefined rules that are configured for compliance professionals. And, of course, users can create customized rules.

The solution also leverages machine learning to weed out spam messages and to identify false or innocuous alerts and legitimate alerts. In the same way that technology-assisted review helps to distinguish between relevant and nonrelevant documents, over time Relativity Trace teaches itself which alerts require further action, and which may be ignored.

Does Relativity Trace cause organizations to use a lot of storage space?

Data management is baked into Relativity Trace. It is true, large organizations have massive amounts of data, and if Relativity Trace were ingesting, indexing and storing all that data, it would be a gargantuan task and quite costly to store it all. Fortunately, with Relativity Trace, if a file ingested into the system does not trigger an alert, that file is automatically purged, thus keeping storage to a minimum. Only the potentially relevant files are stored for any period of time.

What does the output look like?

Relativity Trace is made available as one of the many tabs across the top of the Relativity platform. An initial dashboard displays critical high-level information for compliance professionals, but the actual documents that cause an alert are viewable in a simple document list alongside the Relativity viewer. From there, users can dig into the documents to more closely analyze the communications.

Many might ask why Relativity is developing software that is directed at other than e-discovery processes?

It is true that Relativity Trace is largely directed at the corporate compliance user rather than the traditional e-discovery market. But if you think about it, Relativity’s mission is to “organize data, discover the truth, and act on it.” So, while Relativity built a platform to solve e-discovery problems, Relativity Trace is entirely consistent with the Relativity mission.

Domash told me, also, that since the launch of the solution in 2018, instances of Relativity Trace are currently in frequent use on both the partner and customer side in the United States and EMEA. Interesting, too, is that Relativity Trace is available as a standalone product with only the features you need to run it, or as part of an existing Relativity instance. Channel partners are offering it as well to their corporate clients.

Mike Quartararo

Mike Quartararo is the President of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), a professional member association providing training and certification in e-discovery. He is also the author of the 2016 book Project Management in Electronic Discovery and a consultant providing e-discovery, project management and legal technology advisory and training services to law firms and Fortune 500 corporations across the globe. You can reach him via email at Follow him on Twitter @mikequartararo.

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