Technologists are the pioneers of our day. From designing disruptive hardware and apps to sending rockets into space, these unique individuals rely on their talent and drive to overcome significant challenges to make the world a better place.
Like other game-changing technologists, Clark Rickman isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Rickman is currently the Chief of Development and CTO of Cicayda, which is a software company that intelligently approaches complex legal discovery. Rickman has spent more than two decades designing innovative software that solves mission-critical problems and revolutionizes productivity. Specifically in the legal technology world, Rickman’s innovations have made life easier for lawyers, paralegals, and eDiscovery professionals.
Rickman describes himself as an entrepreneur first and a software engineer second. Combining both of these skills, Rickman has been able to create immense value for his customers, his employees, and himself.
“Engineering software never gets old because you’re literally building something from nothing,” Rickman said. “What I get excited about is realizing that there’s a real need that can be addressed by a shift in technology.”
Ultimately, Rickman’s passion for technology inspires him to this day. Leveraging the wizardry of technology, he continues to use increasingly advanced tools to improve his users’ lives.
Revolutionizing Legal Technology
Rickman has significant domain experience in many different fields. That being said, his ongoing work in the legal field highlights Rickman’s innovative spirit, empathy toward users, and unrelenting persistence.
Before the creation of eDiscovery, discovery was extremely laborious. Traditional discovery involved paper. Lots and lots of paper. Lawyers representing both plaintiffs and defendants would literally go through boxes of paper to find important documents related to their case. Even when word processing programs and email became more widespread, lawyers would print thousands of pages of emails and documents to review them by hand.
Even during these primitive years of legal discovery, Rickman was focused on using technology to make the discovery process easier. He and his colleagues at CaseLogistix developed one of the first tools that let attorneys view emails and electronic documents online and annotate and redact those documents. Essentially, he established the origins of the modern-day version of eDiscovery.
Continued improvements in technology led to the second generation of e-discovery software. According to Rickman, the software needed to respond to significantly more documents. With volumes of documents skyrocketing in every case, law firms built large data centers and litigation support firms provided support and software to handle this large influx of documents.
The so-called third generation of eDiscovery can be summed up by one term: cloud computing.
“It changed everything,” Rickman said. “The power of the cloud is infrastructure on demand. This means that law firms and corporations no longer needed to buy and maintain expensive equipment.”
Because of this, those law firms looking to facilitate their eDiscovery work partner with companies like Cicayda. Ultimately, cloud technology levels the playing field in eDiscovery, with smaller law firms being able to tap into similar resources as larger law firms.
Now, on-demand software (also known as software-as-a-service) is prevalent within the world of eDiscovery. As Rickman says, on-demand software has created new challenges—most prominently, the challenge to provide a single solution that fits client requirements. Because of this, Rickman and his Cicayda colleagues have created an extremely helpful API, which lets clients program everything that they need.
Due to Rickman’s work and others in the legal tech industry, eDiscovery software has substantially driven down litigation costs. In his mind, Rickman isn’t interested in building a copy of another piece of software. Instead, he is passionate about using new technology and thinking, “How can we solve a problem in an innovative way that’ll change everything?”
The Origins of a True Innovator
This sort of attitude around technology and innovation has existed since Rickman’s early days. Growing up in the rural Mississippi Delta, his grandfather was a successful cotton farmer and his father was an industrial engineer.
When he was eleven-years-old, Rickman was at a mall in Jackson, Mississippi. Little did he know that one purchase would change the course of his life. That purchase? Ultimately, his grandfather bought him his first computer.
“It was a big deal because we weren’t affluent or anything like that. I taught myself to program and I’ve literally been programming since I was eleven-years-old,” he said.
From there, Rickman knew what he was going to do with his life. He likes to say that his grandfather gave him a career because he didn’t buy him a garbage can. In other words, he was able to spend more of his younger years learning the fundamentals and principles that he would leverage in his professional career as an entrepreneur.
A Storied Professional Career
Even before Rickman was transforming the eDiscovery world with Cicayda, he was making waves at other companies and industries.
One of those companies was called Rocket Science, which was a firm that sold software and web applications to many different organizations. Rickman joined Rocket Science a few years after graduating from Mississippi State University. He started as a software engineer and rose to become a VP of Development.
Through his time at Rocket Science, Rickman and his colleagues attracted blue-chip clients like NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, and many different universities. He worked on more than 200 web applications, touchscreen applications, and installable software.
“I was single. We probably worked around 80 to 100 hours per week,” Rickman said. “But what was cool about is that, looking back, it wasn’t a big deal. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it really doesn’t seem like work.”
During this time in his work life, Rickman also created an early ticket exchange program that was before ticketing giants like StubHub. He created a software program that let users not only purchase tickets to Ole Miss football games, but to select their seats on a first-of-its-kind mapping system. He admits that he should have protected that idea through intellectual property, but it’s clear that Rickman was at the forefront of software for all modern-day ticketing services.
From Rocket Science, Rickman transitioned to CaseLogistix. As he describes it, CaseLogistix began like one of the 200 projects he started at Rocket Science. Pretty soon, the team discovered that law firms wanted new technology that could help them better handle the discovery process.
Again, CaseLogistix released one of the first softwares that could handle native email and electronic documents for lawsuits. Rickman and his team always thought about new features that they could add. Case Logistix Web, which Rickman designed himself, was a tool that was the first attempt to make a web-based eDiscovery solution. While it was a novel and groundbreaking idea, the technology wasn’t quite there yet. That being said, the CaseLogistix team also designed other notable features for customers—like an importer that made it extremely easy to import and export data into early litigation software.
“We were like rock stars at trade shows,” Rickman said. “It felt like we had capes and blew everyone’s minds because it was a huge paradigm shift over the paper world.”
Eventually, CaseLogistix was acquired by Anacomp and ultimately made its way into Thomson Reuters’ suite of legal products. The acquisitions forced Rickman into a sales role. While it was unexpected, Rickman embraced the opportunity. He attended many of the high-dollar sales courses and received many sales certifications. With that training, he sold $5 million worth of software in four years. He was able to blend his deep technological expertise with new sales skills to make a tremendous impact on his new company. He even began leveraging that combination of skills by consulting for other development crews.
With all of his sales, managing, and consulting experiences in his pocket, Rickman arrived at Cicayda. His former business partners asked him for help and he intended to build a single project. That being said, Rickman stayed on and built some key tools at the company, including a cloud-based eDiscovery engine, a legal hold tool called Fermata, and a tool called Navarro.
In terms of the cloud, Rickman was reluctant to embrace the technology. That being said, once he recognized what it was from a development standpoint, he was blown away.
“It enables a single developer to be way more powerful than they were pre-cloud,” Rickman said.
Fermata makes it substantially easier for companies to retain relevant documents when they are sued. And as for Navarro, it is a social media stream tool that lets litigators easily search through and produce social media correspondence. With more communication occurring through social media, it is a tool that litigators can use to more easily gather evidence and better represent their clients.
Through it all, Rickman has relied on a partnership with Aaron Vick. Having worked with him since the 1990s, Rickman and Vick continue to take Cicayda to the next level.
“He has an incredible mind. It’s a real honor to work with him and I love to be able to call him my friend,” Rickman said.
Future Goals and Motivations
Even though Rickman could rest his laurels on a storied career, he continues to be at the forefront of eDiscovery innovation. Specifically, he is focused on what, in fact, constitutes a conversation in terms of eDiscovery. With conversations taking place over many different platforms (including social media), it has become increasingly difficult for lawyers to get all necessary elements of conversations during discovery. Rickman and Vick are working on elements of this issue, along with the privacy concerns that naturally emerge.
In the end, Rickman is always looking at what’s next. Looking back to his eleven-year-old self, he still has that same passion for technology. He will undoubtedly rely on that passion, along with a desire to keep learning and improving, to create even more valuable tools for years to come.
“I learned from one of my mentors that in software development, you’re only as good as your last project,” Rickman said.