Breaking New Ground
For the past two decades, John Tredennick has been the CEO and Founder of Catalyst Repository Systems, one of the leading e-discovery technology companies in the world. He recently sold the business to a large public software company and today acts as principal and founder of Tredennick Law, which provides strategic consulting and special master services for complex litigation and discovery disputes.
Prior to forming Catalyst, John was a nationally known trial lawyer and longtime (20+ years) litigation partner at Holland & Hart. During that period, he tried commercial cases for national and international clients. He also wrote several ground-breaking legal articles on prejudgment interest that were cited as authoritative by the Colorado Supreme Court and Tenth Circuit. Tredennick was and is still rated AV Preeminent (five of five stars) by Martindale Hubble based on peer reviews in the region.
In the mid-1980s, Tredennick convinced his firm to hire a full-time jury consultant for its litigation department (the first for any large law firm). Not long after, he formed a division of the firm called Trial Partners, bringing in several graphics and video professionals, creating a mock trial courtroom and adding several more jury consultants. Trial Partners became a seven-figure business and regularly assisted clients with animations, mock trials, and broadcast-quality video (including clients not using the firm’s attorneys). Trial Partners was proud to be one of the first to present virtual reality and reconstruction animations in court. Indeed, our animators were so good that George Lucas hired away one of our leads to help him with the second Star Wars trilogy. You can read more about Trial Partners, now called Persuasion Strategies, here.
In the mid 1990s, Tredennick convinced his firm to create and appoint him to what was the first Chief Technology Partner position in a law firm. In that role, Tredennick took charge of his firm’s technology efforts, moving the firm to Windows and Office 95, back when the rest of the pack was on DOS and WordPerfect. He also developed some of the first Intranet applications to connect the firm’s ten offices, including the creation of EZDocket, one of the first Internet-based docketing systems.
In 1998, he developed and began deploying extranets (external, secure web applications) so that law firms across the country could collaborate in complex, multi-jurisdictional litigation. His first engagement involved trillion-dollar claims against the oil and gas industry, with about 350 law firms coordinating on defense. His team also supported major retailers in the defense of a large wage/hour class action brought by Saipan and other Pacific island workers claiming overtime.
Not long after, Tredennick started designing and hosting document review workflow systems for large clients. The first was an advertising review system for Sears Roebuck, that he deployed and hosted over the Internet. The second was a labor case management system for Albertson’s, followed by a Timeshare Legal Review system for Wyndham (originally for Fairfield Resorts). In the early 2000s, AIG engaged Tredennick to design and host several claims and reinsurance systems that are still running today.
These efforts led Microsoft and Adobe to film videos about Holland & Hart’s technology prowess, cementing the firm’s burgeoning reputation as a technology leader. After Holland & Hart won several technology awards that went beyond the legal realm, Adobe's CEO in 1999 nominated the firm nominated the firm to be enshrined in the Smithsonian Institute as part of the Computerworld-Smithsonian Innovation Archives. The firm joined such technology luminaries as Netscape, eBay and Fannie Mae (first Internet-originated mortgage).
All the while, Tredennick continued with a full trial load, knowing that billable hours were the coin of the realm. In addition, he was active in the American Bar Association, serving in several roles including editing its Litigation Newsletter, creating and editing Law Practice Today (a leading legal Webzine) and serving as both Articles Editor and Editor in Chief of the Law Practice Management Sections flagship publication, “Law Practice Management.” In 2002, Tredennick served as Chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Section, successfully turning a profit for the year while adding new members.
If you want to know more about Tredennick’s history with Holland & Hart, the American Bar Association named him one of the first “Legal Rebels” and interviewed him in this podcast.
By 2000, enough people were hiring the firm for legal technology services that Tredennick decided it was time to spin out the business. With support from his firm, which kept him on as a partner, Catalyst became one of the first law firm technology subsidiaries. Originally named CaseShare, the company grew over the next two decades to provide a home for over 180 employees and five data centers located across the United States, Japan and India. Clients included many of the largest companies and law firms in the world.
In 2005, the firm asked Tredennick to buy out the business, which he did with several investment partners. Over the following years, Catalyst continued to break new ground by offering:
The first N+1 cluster-based search engine for enhanced speed and scalability;
The first end-to-end multi-language discovery platform to support global litigation;
The first multi-matter scalable discovery platform for large companies and serial litigants;
The first full-EDRM discovery platform—from legal hold and collection through search, analytics, review, production, reporting and trial; and
The first TAR 2.0 system based on continuous active learning rather than one-time training.
Indeed, Catalyst’s ground-breaking TAR algorithms and CAL protocol, became the gold standard for the entire industry and remain so today.
In January 2019, Catalyst was purchased by OpenText, a multi-billion global technology company. Seeking to use his accumulated skills and experience to help others, Tredennick left Catalyst after the sale, creating Tredennick Law to provide strategy and guidance to legal and business organizations.
Writing and Awards
Over the past four decades Tredennick has written or edited eight books and hundreds of articles on legal technology topics. For starters, in the early nineties he edited and wrote two American Bar Association best sellers called “Winning with Computers: Trial Practice in the Twenty-First Century,” (ABA Press 1991, 1992) During that period, he and a partner also wrote a book for James Publishing on “How to Prepare For, Take, Use a Deposition at Trial,” which they supplemented annually for a number of years. In 2000, he wrote “The Lawyer’s Guide to Spreadsheets,” again for James Publishing. Several years later, he wrote “The Lawyers Guide to Microsoft Excel,” for the American Bar Association (covering updates through Excel 2007).
In 2015, Tredennick wrote the breakthrough book “TAR for Smart People.” It was the first to discuss a new and dramatically more effective protocol for Technology Assisted Review called Continuous Active Learning (CAL), It was a key component of what Tredennick called TAR 2.0 and quickly became the standard across the industry. The book has traveled widely and is used as a teaching tool by federal judges, the Justice Department and lawyers around the world. Owing to its success, TAR for Smart People has been updated through its Second and most recently the Third Edition.
Tredennick’s legal and technology acumen has earned him numerous awards including being named by the American Lawyer as one of the top six “E-Discovery Trailblazers,” named to the FastCase 50 as a legal visionary and named him one of the “Top 100 Global Technology Leaders” by London Citytech magazine. He has also been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Technology in the Rocky Mountain Region, and Top Technology Entrepreneur by the Colorado Software and Internet Association. Catalyst received several awards including FAST 50, FAST 500, INC 500 and Colorado Technology Company of the year.
A great trial lawyer teaches more than preaches. Teaching and speaking to audiences around the world is one of Tredennick’s passions. Always fun, funny and interesting, Tredennick regularly speaks on legal technology and Artificial IntelligenceI to audiences across the globe. He has been a featured speaker at legal conferences in the United States, the EU, Asia-Pacific and Australasia, covering five of the seven continents
Tredennick is available worldwide for conferences, retreats, and focused training sessions on TAR, AI, Legal Holds, Blockchain and a host of other legal and technology topics.
Other Fun Stuff
Tredennick got his J.D. in 1979 from the University of Virginia. After a stint with Shearman and Sterling in NYC, he took a Clerkship with Chief Justice Erickson of the Colorado Supreme Court. When that finished, he spent a year with a backpack and $3,000 traveling around the world, starting in New Zealand and Australia, and then working his way through Southeast Asia, Asia (India and Nepal), the Middle East and Europe.
In his spare time, you will find Tredennick competing on the national equestrian show jumping circuit or playing drums and singing in a classic rock jam band. He also is an avid skiier (with six week-long heliski trips under his belt) and keeps fit by running and working out with a weight trainer.
Tredennick recently went for a seven-day equestrian adventure with Offbeat Safaris in Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve where he camped and rode alongside a lot of wild animals.
We Should Talk . . .
Give me a call if you want to kick around a problem or explore an idea. While often called a visionary by others, I think of myself as a good listener who sometimes comes up with creative ways to solve problems. And, I get things done.
I don’t charge for initial consultations and am happy to speak with nice people.