On Aug. 24, Ankura Consulting Group completed its acquisition of the privacy team housed within the Disputes, Forensics and Legal Technology segment of Navigant, a firm specializing in advisory, consulting and outsourcing services. The announcement concluded a month's-long process between the two organizations, giving Ankura the opportunity to use the Navigant privacy team to bolster its presence worldwide to more than 30 offices globally, manned by 1,400 professionals and allowing the consulting group to expand its services in the fields of compliance, cybersecurity, data analytics and legal tech for a wide variety of industries.
Ankura CEO Roger Carlile cited Ankura’s history with Navigant as one of the reasons why his company chose to pursue the team.
“Many of us have worked together in the past with other organizations or have been competitors with the business segments that have been acquired, so we had a lot of respect for the DFLT team as professionals, and we had some knowledge about their complementary culture,” said Carlile. “We believed that their client-centric focus and collaborative approach to delivering results would fit well with Ankura, so we were confident that in bringing these two businesses together we would be building an even stronger foundation level and quickly pick up our stride to be more successful.
Navigant's privacy team comprises consultants with backgrounds in data management, information security and EU data protection law, including some who have worked with the European Data Protection Supervisor in Brussels. Navigant Director for Disputes, Forensics and Legal Technology Dave Manek said his team has, of late, been largely focused on delivering readiness programs to clients focused on compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
Ankura was attracted to acquiring Navigant because of its global reach, allowing Ankura to break into new jurisdictions.
“Just on the GDPR, that’s where having a global firm that’s strong in a number of areas in the U.S. and in markets overseas such as London, the Middle East, Asia and Australia is beneficial, where you can put those kind of skilled resources on the ground to deal with data privacy issues,” said Carlile. “That was a key strategic reason for bringing those teams together, and we are really excited of what that group can do, because we have more capability and more reach globally than we did before.”
“The addition of the DLFT personnel means a greater opportunity for Ankura with respect to international GDPR privacy work,” said Manek, who is now a managing director at Ankura. “The international platform created by this acquisition allows Ankura to deliver on international privacy compliance projects.”
As privacy legislation continues to proliferate in countries around the world, the new Ankura is seeking to add staff to ensure it is on top of all new legal developments. Former Navigant Managing Director Jim Vint, who is now the senior managing director at Ankura, said the deal gives the partnership the infrastructure and name recognition to attract top privacy practitioners all over the globe.
“I think a lot of the key people that we’ve looked at and seen as potential fits are people who look to collaborate with a number of their other clients,” said Vint. “It requires people who have specific knowledge or skills around structured databases, email and archiving systems, cybersecurity and information security. It’s a pretty collective and disperse groups of folks that we have, and the people we see as leaders in this space on a global basis display a multiple of those types of areas.”
Now that the deal is completed, the focus has been on integrating the DFLT team into Ankura, informing existing clients about new capabilities, developing a strategy to go to market and beginning to shift clients from a policy- and procedure-driven privacy program to one based more on technology.
In terms of merging the teams, Carlile said growth is not the number one goal he hopes for in the short term; he sees that coming down the line. Instead, Ankura is focusing on seamless convergence.
“One of Ankura’s core principles is focused on collaboration, and so we are more interested in making sure we put the right team together to service the client,” said Manek. “I think privacy is a great example [of that], because we need folks with different subject-matter expertise to deliver these holistic solutions.”
While the new Ankura may consider expanding into regions it does not currently service in the future, Vint notes any new areas will be considered based on prioritization. For now, all parties involved are confident they are in the best position to help clients going forward. With the GDPR now in effect, and laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 coming in the future, the issues surrounding data privacy are not going to become simpler any time soon, and the new Ankura knows that is the case.
“We’ve dealt with a number of historic regulations on data sharing for clients, and we have advised on that. I think this is the next evolution in the trend of what you can and cannot be doing with individual data,” said Vint. “The outlook on both sides was an area of focus going forward given the complexity of data storage and access rights, and how both sides prior to the deal have been building and now we just have a stronger, more global team to address those client needs.”
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