Senior Director Javier García-Chappell joined FTI Technology’s EMEA team late last year, with the focus of expanding the segment’s presence in Iberia. With nearly two decades of experience assisting clients with digital forensics investigations, cyber incident and response cases, e-discovery, data review, investigations, IP disputes and fraud matters, he brings a dynamic background to the firm. In a virtual meet-and-greet with Javier, we asked him about the current issues facing corporations in the region, how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting clients’ data-related challenges and where he sees the practice headed in the coming year.
Javier, you’ve been with FTI for nearly a year now. Tell us a bit about your background, your role at FTI and the type of work your team is focused on in Spain.
I started my career in the government sector. I spent several years working on the government side and the corporate side dealing with serious crime investigations and a wide range of regulatory agencies in the UK From there, I moved on to KPMG, where I ran the firm’s forensics technology lab in Iberia and Spain. I’ve done a lot of work in forensics investigations and e-discovery, which has translated well into my role at FTI. Now, I’m focused on growing our practice here in the region and expanding the investigative and information governance services we offer to our clients here and in EMEA more broadly.
What brought you to FTI?
I was ready to work for a firm that was centered on technology and people. FTI has a great reputation on both fronts. Working for the Big 4 can provide a lot of great relationships and experience, but it also comes with its drawbacks. I wanted to join a team that offered a lot of room for innovation and growth, and allowed flexibility to provide clients with the latest and greatest technology available. When FTI’s EMEA leaders shared their plans for growth in Spain with me, which included specific intentions to build new solutions and services, I knew it was the perfect fit.
What does FTI’s Technology practice look like in Spain?
Our presence in Spain started about four years ago, primarily as a forensics and analytics lab. My arrival on the team coincided with the firm’s plans to expand our presence in the region. Today, we’re serving a combination of local clients and supporting the broader EMEA team’s matters and clients when they need local expertise.
What issues are top of mind for corporations in Spain right now?
COVID-19 is obviously at the forefront of everything around the world right now, and Spain is no exception. Economic downturns take a heavy toll on this region, and our economy has taken a long time to recover since the last recession. Every indication so far is that Spain will be one of the hardest hit economies from this crisis, due to a combination of factors—that we’ve struggled to recover from past downturns and that our economy is largely dependent on tourism and construction, which have been halted amid lockdowns. Corporations in all industries will feel the ripple effects and be looking for ways to weather the storm.
I expect this will lead to a surge in M&A activity among companies that are looking to divest certain lines of business or need to be acquired to survive. Companies will be looking to reinvent themselves and this is likely to spur a range of activities on the legal and investigations front. We’ll also see an uptick in legal disputes and class action suits in the pandemic’s aftermath.
Our practice here in Spain understands these local issues. We’re watching the situation closely and are ready to help clients navigate the data challenges that are resulting. Our team is comprised of experts who can develop solutions that adapt to changing climates and reduce cost and risk relating to e-discovery, investigations and regulatory inquires.
What’s the current temperature on data privacy in Spain?
When the GDPR was first introduced, there was a big push all over Europe, including in Spain, to get privacy programs up and running. But many haven’t dug the next layer down to ensure their programs are maintained and working at the technical level. It’s still very common for companies to lack visibility into what data they actually have, and where they store it. The scramble to enable work from home has exacerbated this, and many companies have loosened restrictions in the interest of maintaining business continuity.
I think this will drive a renewed need for data privacy guidance in the coming year. Companies are going to need experts to review their programs, assess new exposures that arose during remote work and ensure the programs are supported with the right internal processes and technology. We’ve recently had a number of conversations with clients on this, and in particular how essential it is to securely remediate and integrate data to adhere to data privacy obligations, whether it’s concerning their GDPR program, an investigation or a regulatory inquiry.
Can you talk about some of the general perceptions and attitudes toward e-discovery analytics in the region?
Spain is very different from the UK and the U.S. in terms of how litigation and e-discovery are approached. Many corporations here still need some nudging to understand the benefits of using technology assisted review (TAR) solutions like predictive coding and visual analytics. The market will mature over time, and I think in the coming years, we’ll see more adoption around technologies that can improve e-discovery outcomes while reducing time and cost.
So, when you aren’t busy solving Spain’s e-discovery and data challenges, how do you spend your time?
I’m a dad and love spending time with my children. I always expected that working from home would provide more time with my family, but I’ve actually found that I’m spending more time working. When we’re able to get out and about, I love taking my children to play as much as possible. We enjoy swimming, football, tennis. We also try to get to the beach to relax as a family as much as possible.