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Profile: Lynell Phillips; Director of Electronic Discovery, Capitol Digital Document Solutions, LLC; and Founder of Phillips Computer Forensics [by Regan Morris] Do you think your computer files and email are private, even after you hit delete? Think again. LawCrossing speaks with computer forensics expert Lynell Phillips about how her computer-savvy ways resulted in a booming legal career.
Ms. Phillips’ career in law started with
Often, expert witnesses say what the attor-
EnCase methodology at Guidance Software
computers. After working as an information
neys want to hear, she said.
and works with most all computer operating systems, including UNIX, DOS, and Win-
technology manager for several companies, in 2004, Phillips started her own company,
“Some people bring less supportable opin-
dows. She is also experienced with litigation
Phillips Computer Forensics.
ions to the table. It feels like they’re making
support and discovery software like Concor-
opinions on what attorneys want to hear,”
dance, Summation, Discover-E, Discovery
With a lab in her Northern California home
she said. “It’s hard because sometimes opin-
Cracker, and I Discover.
and a solid reputation as an expert in foren-
ions can go either way.” She keeps current with changes in forensics
sic data collection and analysis, Phillips is also the director of electronic discovery for
Testifying in court is just a small part of her
through various Internet groups, which often
Capitol Digital Document Solutions, LLC, a
job, and only a small fraction of the cases
include government and law enforcement
San Francisco-based full-service provider in
she works on end up in court. Finding the
computer experts. Her access to that exper-
the litigation-support arena.
electronic data for evidence and analyzing it
tise is one of the reasons Phillips said she
for the attorneys is her main priority.
does not do criminal cases. She would not ethically be allowed to use the forensic news
The two jobs keep her busy, and LawCrossing spoke to her by phone as she ran from
Phillips started studying computer foren-
groups if she were using the information for
her office, down an elevator, and to meeting.
sics while working for the now-defunct Fast
criminal defense cases.
A frequent lecturer at legal conferences and
Track Litigation Support as the director of
an expert witness, Phillips said she’s used to
electronic evidence. The company had been
“I have a better support system if I stay out
working on the run.
using subcontractors for forensic work and
of criminal cases,” she said. “In the groups,
was spending too much money. Phillips was
there are prosecutors and the FBI. They free-
As a computer forensics expert, Phillips is
able to do the work in-house. She specialized
ly share tips and tricks about the business,
generally asked by law firms to dig through
in the collection, preservation, analysis, and
but not about particular cases. If I move into
clients’ computer files for evidence in civil
presentation of computer-related evidence
criminal defense, that’s no longer available
and discovery for the legal community.
to me. Besides, I really like civil cases.”
Like attorneys and paralegals, Phillips said
With litigation and sensitive computer files
Phillips said she has been asked to help
the most important part of her job is ethics.
from the opposing side, one would think Phil-
with the defense of people accused of child
As an expert witness, she tells it like it is, not
lips would often face hostility in her work.
pornography, but she said no.
how the attorneys and clients want to hear it. “There’s varying degrees of professional-
“Everyone deserves defense, but I did not
“Ethics are really important,” she said. “As
ism, and sometimes people are great; other
feel comfortable with it,” she said. “It’s not
an expert, it’s really important that you’re
times, it can be very tense,” she said. “If it
able to believe in and support the data
gets to be too antagonistic, usually attorneys
through your opinions. And it’s one thing
will be present, and it’s their job to make
In one case, Phillips was asked to dig
you make clear to attorneys up front--it’s an
sure I can do my job.”
through computer files at a company because the boss was convinced that an
expert opinion based on the evidence.” Phillips collects computer data using the
employee was using company data and ac-
continued on back
cess to clients to set up his own competing company. The boss thought the employee was using company email to convince clients to jump ship to the new company. Phillips was able to retrieve deleted files and prove that the employee was trying to lure clients away. While Phillips’ work is solely for attorneys, she said she has never been asked to conduct an internal investigation at a law firm. Phillips’ career in law was more accidental than by design, but she plans to stay in the legal field. “I actually was never driven to dealing with attorneys or the law. It just kind of happened as job changes happened,” she said. “But it’s interesting. It was a great opportunity, and there will always be good cases to work on.”
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Published on Oct 26, 2012
Published on Oct 26, 2012
Lynell Phillips is a director of Electronic Discovery Capitol Digital Document Solutions, LLC and Founder of Phillips Computer Forensics.