Welcome to our “WeAreACEDS Spotlight” where we feature industry professionals on our #WeAreACEDS livestream. Every professional is unique and so is their e-discovery journey. We hope this will be a terrific way for you to get to know the ACEDS community.
Mike Quartararo: Greetings everyone and welcome to #WeAreACEDS, streaming live on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. My name is Mike Quartararo, I am the President of ACEDS. Today we are going to be joined by Candice Hunter Corby, the Chief Executive Officer at Cobra Legal Solutions, a professional services provider in e-discovery and the legal industry. As I began research for this interview, a couple of things stuck out to me, first, like me, Candice spent a number of years working in leadership at law firms. And second, she’s a woman and a leader in a male-dominated industry and she has an affinity for diversity inclusion initiatives, which I am also interested in. We’d like to highlight successful people generally, but more so when it comes to women, people of color and so on and so forth. Thanks to Maribel Rivera who heads our inclusion, diversity, equality, access and awareness committee. We just thought it made sense for us to get together and talk about the great things Candice and Cobra Legal are doing. Candice, welcome to #WeAreACEDS live, thanks so much for making time for us today
Candice Hunter Corby: It’s a pleasure to be here, Mike, thanks so much for having me. And you definitely hit on something that’s near and dear to my heart and that is diversity and inclusion. So, I can’t wait to talk about it and can’t wait to talk about Cobra. Obviously, it’s what makes me thrive.
Mike Quartararo: And I can appreciate that. For those that don’t know, tell our listeners a little about Cobra Legal Solutions.
Candice Hunter Corby: So, Cobra is a global organization of amazing attorneys and technologists, e-discoverists, I would say, that are very, very versed in everything they do. We have team members that just absolutely are off the charts in their abilities, so I always joke and say, I’ve assembled the Avengers. And many of you might know some of those individuals, they come from big law firms, big companies, like IBM and Dell and Relativity. Doug Kaminski’s my CRO, from Relativity, he’s now at Cobra. Renee Meisel is my chief legal officer, comes from Dell. Mahesh Krishnan is prior IBM. Kendra Smith is from a large law firm and has a huge background in e-discovery and then also, decided to take the patent bar for fun. We have a lot of Relativity masters on our team, which is also quite unique. Cobra just acquired a forensics and collections company in the last two months, so we also have expanded that footprint. But a major global entity that is extremely collaborative with amazing footprint in financial services, in pharma and life sciences industry, are some big specialty areas of ours. So, really happy to be here.
Mike Quartararo: Sounds like a handful. Let me ask you a question because I know you have this history of leadership roles at big law and so forth. What interested you in making this transition? It seems a little odd, from big law to legal service provider.
Candice Hunter Corby: So, the interesting thing there is, so I was, as Mike said, I was at Godwin Gruber in Dallas, then Baker McKenzie and then, Mayer Brown in New York City, so about a 450 attorney office in New York City. From there, a very persistent recruiter kept calling me and wanting me to do this. And initially I, like you Mike, thought, why in the world would I want to do that? But then I started understanding the shift in what was happening in the legal community and specifically, in e-discovery and what we were doing. Being able to offer something different and making things accessible and I think that’s a big word, is accessibility. And when you think about that, it’s not only from a diversity perspective or an equity perspective for individuals but it’s also from companies and sizes of companies. So, if you are offering a service that is exceptional and much better but at a price point that’s affordable, not cheap, not the lowest, but affordable and makes sense, then more people have access to that.
And more people have the ability to thrive and survive in this industry and around the globe. And that’s something that I focus on, not only with our clients but also internally, with our employees and the communities that we serve. So, accessibility to services, accessibility to financial success for our employees and just personal success. So, I think that it goes all the way around and that was one of the driving factors for me, is doing something that could impact a greater community and that’s a community across the globe. US, India, give opportunity for women and those of color and those that don’t have necessarily the same opportunity across the globe. If you think about a woman in India, in a law firm, she’s likely to stay as an associate her entire career, unless their dad owns the firm. But at Cobra, our most senior lawyer in India is a female and she runs all of our doc review. And across the whole organization, we’re 63% women and 89% diverse.
Mike Quartararo: That’s pretty remarkable, given, I mean, what I know about the industry over many years. But let me dig in a little bit here. I understand diversity and inclusion are something that are really near and dear to you. How does DEI factor into the work that you personally do and into the culture, at Cobra Legal Solutions?
Candice Hunter Corby: So, it’s really part of the fabric of who we are. I mean, it’s that tapestry that’s woven all the way through Cobra, our collaboration and our diversity and inclusion and equity across the globe. We have a DEI global group and we have a head in the US and a head in India, they do a tremendous job. We have a week long event called the Cobra Life Week and we support diversity, inclusion and equity during that week, with poetry and with song and with writings and you name it, share that across and do different things. Every day is a different themed event throughout the week. We celebrate all holidays and festivals globally, that’s not an easy task but it’s actually a lot of fun. Why wouldn’t you want to celebrate something if you can?
But also, we do things like blind testing, double blind testing, when we’re hiring. So, you don’t necessarily know what someone’s religious affiliation is, or their color, their skin color, or their gender, or their sexual orientation, we know none of that when they’re taking their exam. So, we hire the best person for the job and it just so happens that 89% of the best people are diverse.
Mike Quartararo: That’s incredible. That’s actually quite amazing. It’s like The Voice, right? You just hear the voice and you have to judge on the voice. That’s amazing. So, you’ve been a leader in this space for quite some time and anybody, I’m known for saying this, but anybody who has half an eye open would recognize that, obviously, there’s a disconnect, it’s a very male dominated industry. Can you share with our listeners a little bit about your leadership journey? And by that I’m asking, how and when did you come to realize that you were interested in leadership? Was there a moment? Did a light go off? Did a particular event spark you to have interest in being a leader in this space?
Candice Hunter Corby: So, here’s an interesting thing about me, Mike, or a couple. I’m the youngest of six kids, grew up in a very modest home and, sort of, always fought again… You know what I mean? I fought for my voice and my space at the table and the extra pork chop, I mean, whatever. So, four older brothers and an older sister. So, if I was going to be heard at a table of 8 to 10 people, I had to be pretty forceful at it, right?
Mike Quartararo: Yep. That’s the training.
Candice Hunter Corby: So, here’s an interesting thing about me, Mike, or a couple. I’m the youngest of six kids, grew up in a very modest home and, sort of, always. So, there never was a time in my life that I could tell you I wasn’t a leader. Some might’ve said I was bossy, as a kid. My response to that is, I’m not bossy, I just have better ideas. And so, I grew up in that manner, there’s not very many organizations that I was a part of that I wasn’t holding a leadership role. So, I used to tell people, I’ve been 40 my whole life and I can’t say that anymore because now I’m 50, so that’s… But that being the case, I’ve always had an eye for, how do we do it better? How do we include everybody and move the ball forward?
So, I think there never was just one time that said, how do you want to be a leader? Or do you want to be a leader in a space or in a whatever? It’s always been, how do I help and how do I make it better? And because of that, those around me, under me and above me, either pushed me up, pulled me up or whatever. So, it wasn’t necessarily me saying, hey, let me lead this or when do I want to crack the glass ceiling? No, it was always, how do we do something better tomorrow than we’ve done today?
Mike Quartararo: Okay. So, let me try to dig in a little bit here because I want to get something from you for our audience. Imagine you’re sitting on a stage in front of an audience of young female entrepreneurs, based on your career journey thus far, what one, two or three pieces of advice would you give to them?
Candice Hunter Corby: Couple of things. One, is listen, really listen. Not just to what you want to hear, listen to everyone because every single person has something valid to say. We might not agree with everything they say but you’re going to get something out of it and you’re also going to get their support because you’ve listened. So, that’s key, always listen, be the best listener you possibly can be. Create your own board of directors. And what I mean by that, and this is a fluid board of directors. So, Mike, you just came onto my board of directors, by the way, I’ve just elected you. So, what I do is, I find people and avenues on, if there’s something I don’t know about or I don’t understand and don’t be afraid that you don’t know everything because none of us know everything, right?
Mike Quartararo: Right.
Candice Hunter Corby: We’re always learning, continue learning. But create a board of directors, seek out people who know things you don’t and fill the gaps, right? Always try to illuminate your blind spots. We all have them, nobody knows everything and you don’t have to know everything. That’s another thing, you don’t have to know everything, you don’t have to check off every single item on the job description and say, oh, I’ve done that, I’ve done that, I’ve done that, to be able to apply for the job, right? Because let me ask you this, if you’re applying and you want to run for office, say you want to be president of the United States. Well, guess what? You’ve never been president of the United States before, how can you check the box and say, well, I’ve done that, so therefore you then should elect me? Well, that’s not possible, right? So, it’s not possible for you to have every single skill and attribute for every job you’re applying for or everything you’re doing in life. Understand that it’s a 60/40 rule, you know 60% and you’re going to learn 40% when you get there.
Mike Quartararo: Yep. And that balance could vary depending upon- [crosstalk 00:13:29]
Candice Hunter Corby: Absolutely.
Mike Quartararo: Yeah.
Candice Hunter Corby: Great. And so, the other thing is, believe in yourself.
Mike Quartararo: Yeah.
Candice Hunter Corby: One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career and we all make mistakes, all make mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes was, I thought that everybody knew better than me and so, my gut would tell me, go right and others were telling me, go left. And so, I was like, dude, that doesn’t make sense and this is why and whatever but they’re senior to me, so they must know better than me. Well, trust your gut.
Mike Quartararo: Yeah.
Candice Hunter Corby: Get advice, ask your board of directors. And, again, your board of directors is your collaboration of people that you go to, to ask help for, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask questions, ask for help and really listen to everybody around you but trust your gut because you’re not doing things and you’re not in your role because you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re in your role because you do. And you’re there because of your abilities and so, trust your gut, understand that you’re there for a reason. So, those would be my three.
Mike Quartararo: Those are fantastic. And I have a very similar philosophy. Thank you for asking me to join the board, by the way. All right. Circling back to diversity and inclusion. I understand you recently were given The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards For Advocacy. Can you tell us what that’s about and what that means to you?
Candice Hunter Corby: So, the Religious & Business Organization, along with the United Nations, selects, every year, companies and organizations and people who are out in the community and in the globe, that support true religious freedom and equality in the workforce and bringing your full self to work. Well, Cobra Legal Solutions, along with companies you may know, like Intel and Tyson Foods, received the bronze medal for advocacy. And that’s because, at Cobra, again, we celebrate every festival and holiday worldwide. We let everybody be their full selves and bring their full selves to work. So, because of that, we are religiously inclusive, as well as every other possible methodology. We have Christians, we have Muslims, we have Jews, you name it, every single area and everyone celebrates who they are and we celebrate them. I was just fortunate, I am fortunate, to be the CEO of a company that is so fabulous and the collaboration of this team and this company globally is just tremendous.
And it’s really a testament to them, not really me, that I won this award. It’s a bronze metal, the United Nations wanted me to be in Tokyo to receive the award before the Para-Olympics, unfortunately, with COVID, I was unable to travel there to receive it, so I received the award virtually. That’s actually on our YouTube site, so you can see the acceptance speech, as well as an overview of what Cobra does and our team. A great video about our India operation and all of that is on that YouTube site as well. But really, really excited and, again, it’s a testament to who we are as an organization, that every single person feels included and the collaboration between the teams, it’s just fantastic.
Mike Quartararo: It sounds fantastic. It sounds like a great place to work. Candice, this has been great, thank you so much for making time for us. Before we go, is there anything new, anything interesting, any announcements you want to make, that you want to share with our audience?
Candice Hunter Corby: Well, a couple of things. One, I mean, I said it earlier but I’ll reiterate it, Cobra just acquired Digital Discovery, a forensics and collections company in Dallas, Texas. We’re very, very excited about that, we’re happy to bring those team members into the fold with us. Full on EDRM from one end to the other now, so excited for that and looking for a lot of growth. Just thanks for having me, I really appreciate the time this morning and look forward to everything ACEDS is doing.
Mike Quartararo: Thank you so much for joining us. If you are interested in our short form video interviews, please look for us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and check out ACEDS on the YouTube, on our YouTube channel, where you can watch previous interviews and live streams. Thank you so much for joining us today, have a great day everyone and be kind to one another.
Candice Hunter Corby: Absolutely. It’s a pleasure.