Smith & Carson expands capabilities with Jackson acquisition

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Published: May 2,2005

Atlanta-based Smith & Carson, Inc., a national private investigative firm that focuses on the defense side of litigation, recently acquired the Jackson-based technology firm Mississippi Litigation Solutions (MLS) to manage and support trial documentation for its legal clients.
MLS founders and Jacksonians Phillip Cothren and Doug Hindman were tapped to launch a new litigation technology practice area for the firm.

“By combining the investigative resources of Smith & Carson with the technology and document management expertise Hindman and Cothren have mastered, Smith & Carson now provides legal counsel with expanded services offering a wide range of technologies that support the legal professional as well as a national network of experienced investigators — all under one umbrella,” said Larry Carson, president and CEO of Smith & Carson. “This fusion of services allows Smith & Carson to partner with its clients from start to finish over the entire lifespan of a case.”

Established more than a quarter-century ago, Smith & Carson is one of America’s largest investigative firms, and has provided litigation services for high-profile complex cases involving tobacco, asbestos and oxycontin class action suits. Its staff of more than 100 full-time investigators includes former attorneys, prosecutors, law enforcement, military personnel, chemists, insurance professionals and business experts.

From its 11 offices scattered around the country, Smith & Carson serves Fortune 500 companies and global law firms. But the heart of its technology base emanates solely from the Jackson office, where service offerings include litigation support, trial preparation services, e-documents storage solutions, case management services, MDL and mass tort litigation management and 3D models and simulations. The group can manage more than 10 million pages of litigation documents and a large MDL and corporate database design, and provide paperless trial services.

“All lawyers have to do is walk in with a CD-ROM, and they’re ready to go,” said Jennifer Gordon Dornbusch, director of business development for Smith & Carson. “It beats having all those binders.”

Not long after they established MLS in February 2003, Cothren and Hindman learned that Smith & Carson was looking for a litigation technology firm like theirs that would allow the company to support law firms for the lifespan of a case.

“Smith & Carson wanted to gravitate away from being an investigative service firm to being a litigation project management firm, and acquiring our company was a big piece of that puzzle,” said Hindman, director of business development and trial services for the litigation group. “We met and courted for six or seven months until we finally inked the deal.”

Smith & Carson’s acquisition of MLS officially took place November 1, 2004.

“What separates us from the competition is that we can build a database around a big piece of litigation so that law firms can more efficiently search and find data,” said Cothren, director of operations for the litigation group. “We take a more managed approach into the litigation arena. We become a part of the law firm’s team. We help cull down data from the discovery phase to certain exhibits, and we sit in trial with our clients to make sure everything moves smoothly from a technical standpoint.”

Last month, Smith & Carson announced a national strategic alliance with Milwaukee-based Jefferson Wells, an independent provider of professional services and long-term process improvements for internal audit, finance and accounting, tax operations and technology risk management. Jefferson Wells is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN).

“The emerging recognition of forensic accounting complements the ability of the internal audit process to identify problems, create solutions and protect company assets,” said Larry A. Rosipajla, CPA, CFE, senior managing director of forensic accounting at Smith & Carson. “Our team of professionals provides an accounting expertise and an investigative perspective to make this strategic alliance a powerful combination of our Sarbanes environment.”

Dornbusch added: “Most of our experts in the forensic accounting arena come from the big four accounting firms so they can help on the front end with preventative measures, discover where criminal activity happened and show you how to keep it from happening again. It’s a real interesting niché that nicely complements our services.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

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