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Phil Beckett
Office:
One Finsbury Circus
EC2M 7EB
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 207 715 5200

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Investigations Digital Forensics Experts

Phil Beckett, is a managing director with the Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) global disputes and investigations practice in London. He brings more than 18 years of experience in forensic technology engagements, advising clients on forensic investigations of digital evidence, the interrogation of complex data sets, information governance, cyber risk and the disclosure of electronic documents. Mr Beckett leads A&M’s pan-European forensic technology team. He was recently named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN FORENSIC TECHNOLOGY?

I originally started my career within IT risk and assurance services team at large accounting firm and quickly experienced a forensic engagement. The combination of technical and investigative skills drew me into forensic technology, as I especially enjoyed unravelling technical conundrums.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE INVESTIGATION YOU HAVE WORKED ON OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been many memorable investigations that I have worked on, often involving international travel during which I met some very interesting people. On one occasion, I was even involved in a car chase. However, the case that stands out involved unravelling the unauthorised and illegal use of my clients’ data by their former business partner. The technical depth of the investigation, the irrefutable nature of the findings and the hostile nature of the work environment made the end result all the more satisfying.

YOU’VE BEEN ADVISING CLIENTS ON DIGITAL FORENSIC EVIDENCE FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS. HOW HAVE INVESTIGATIONS CHANGED IN THAT TIME?

When I first started we would print everything out! We devised programs to print, with header sheets, all “documents” and also to identify, extract and print all textual content from system areas of computers. This is simply not feasible now. The use of advanced technical techniques – such as predictive coding, machine learning and artificial learning – means there is much more “science” to the role nowadays. Having said that, the underlying aim of producing reliable findings has not changed.

WHAT FACTORS ARE DRIVING COMPANIES TOWARDS MORE PROACTIVE DATA MANAGEMENT OF DATA?

Although industry leaders have been talking about this for a long time, proactive data management has never been in vogue, except on rare occasions. What is now advancing this conversation is regulation, both in terms of penalties when things go wrong (especially in the financial sector) and proactive legislation that will enforce good behaviour in this area. The most notable example of the latter is the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR enshrines the principles of EU citizens’ privacy and security for personal data protection into the very processes and operations of organisations that provide Europeans with goods/services or analytics data. These regulations, require legal and IT expertise as well as operational efficiency to ensure that necessary changes are made. The big stick underpinning the GDPR is the potential fines for breaches and reputational damage. This means the regulation has real teeth and is driving change for the better.

HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR TEAM HELPING COMPANIES PREPARE FOR POTENTIAL CYBERSECURITY INCIDENTS IN THE FUTURE? WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN DOING THIS?

Cybersecurity is a hot topic for many A&M clients, who turn to our senior professionals to help assess and improve their cyber security controls and infrastructure, as well as to provide lead roles in any incident response, should the worst happen. The challenges clients face varies significantly from organisation to organisation. However, the first step in a proactive engagement is to perform a complete holistic assessment of a client’s cyber program and defences to understand where they are today, where they want to be, where they should be and how to bridge any gaps. One of the main challenges is helping people realise that cybersecurity is not solved by technology alone, as processes, policies and people all play vital roles in ensuring cybersecurity.

HOW DOES ALVAREZ & MARSAL’S DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM OTHER DIGITAL FORENSIC PRACTICES?

Our team differentiates itself in a number of key ways. First, the range of forensic technology services that we perform within one team, ensuring that data, analytical and information governance skills are appropriately utilised across all engagements. Second, the fact that the members of our team have experience and knowledge across the entire spectrum of forensic technology services and processes, meaning that they “live” with clients throughout a project rather than being passed from department to department. Third, our client-first approach ensures that we are available when needed, flexible as appropriate, expert in our field and proactively advising on methodologies to be followed. Fourth, the close relationship we have within our integrated disputes and investigations practice, as well as the rest of the firm, means we are not isolated and can bring other experts and skillsets to projects as required. Finally, our closely integrated international practice, where we have people in the US, Germany, China, India, Russia, the UAE and the UK that all know and trust each other. This means we can offer global coverage with the same degree of knowledge and expertise.

AS HEAD OF EUROPEAN FORENSIC TECHNOLOGY GROUP, HOW DO YOU SEE THE PRACTICE EVOLVING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

A&M has an entrepreneurial culture and a bias towards action. We leverage situations as they arise. Undoubtedly, the next five years will reveal some surprises and unforeseen opportunities. New geographies, new people, new services. A key development is that forensic technology services will become increasingly embedded across all of the services that A&M provides, thus expanding our role internally and externally.

One thing is without question: we will continue to build our teams in the UK, Germany and throughout the world, including our recent forensic technology practice in Dubai.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WISHING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THIS AREA?

First, don’t focus too quickly – for example you do not need to do a “forensic” degree to pursue a career in this area. In fact, I would prefer to see candidates with a more general computing degree – though, of course, you’ll be expected to gain certain qualifications in this area during your career. 

Also, you never get a second chance to make a first impression – so make the most of it! Do something you enjoy – you’re going to be doing this for a long time (hopefully).

Attention to detail is critical: a small error can cost a lot and prevent you from a successful forensic career.

Have an open mind and try to keep all your avenues open – you never know where they may take you.

Never stop learning – always challenge yourself.

And finally, grab every opportunity that presents itself to you. Have the courage and commitment to take full advantage of what life throws at you.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Forensics & Litigation Consulting - Digital

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice in London, brings more than 19 years of experience in forensic technology engagements, advising clients on forensic investigations of digital evidence, the interrogation of complex data sets, information governance, cyber risk and the disclosure of electronic documents. Mr Beckett leads the forensic technology team across Europe and was recently named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year.

Mr Beckett has led anti-bribery/Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations, incident-response engagements, kickback investigations, intellectual property (IP) theft cases, employment disputes, cartel/antitrust investigations, and compliance review exercises. He has also supported commercial litigation and international arbitrations.

Mr Beckett has regularly been appointed as an information technology forensics expert and managed the execution of multi-site civil search orders whereby he has provided expert testimony. Mr Beckett also served as an expert witness in Imerman vs Tchenguiz ([2010] EWCA Civ 908).

Mr Beckett has worked on a large number of high-profile e-disclosure cases, including litigation between Russian entities in the High Court, where data had to be managed in an extremely secure environment across the UK and Russia. Mr Beckett also managed a regulatory review of a global bank trader performed by multiple regulators involving data from multiple systems and jurisdictions, including instant message chat and voice data.

Mr Beckett earned a bachelor's degree in computing and management from Loughborough University, a master’s degree in forensic computing from Cranfield University and a master’s degree in computer and communications law from Queen Mary, University of London. He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and won the ACCA Gold Medal in 2001. He is also a certified fraud examiner and lectures regularly on information governance and forensic technology.

WWL says: Phil Beckett is “one of the leading practitioners” for forensic technology work, according to interviewees.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Data: Data Experts

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice in London, brings more than 19 years of experience in forensic technology engagements, advising clients on forensic investigations of digital evidence, the interrogation of complex data sets, information governance, cyber risk and the disclosure of electronic documents. Mr Beckett leads the forensic technology team across Europe and was recently named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year.

Mr Beckett has led anti-bribery/Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations, incident-response engagements, kickback investigations, intellectual property (IP) theft cases, employment disputes, cartel/antitrust investigations, and compliance review exercises. He has also supported commercial litigation and international arbitrations.

Mr Beckett has regularly been appointed as an information technology forensics expert and managed the execution of multi-site civil search orders whereby he has provided expert testimony. Mr Beckett also served as an expert witness in Imerman vs Tchenguiz ([2010] EWCA Civ 908).

Mr Beckett has worked on a large number of high-profile e-disclosure cases, including litigation between Russian entities in the High Court, where data had to be managed in an extremely secure environment across the UK and Russia. Mr Beckett also managed a regulatory review of a global bank trader performed by multiple regulators involving data from multiple systems and jurisdictions, including instant message chat and voice data.

Mr Beckett earned a bachelor's degree in computing and management from Loughborough University, a master’s degree in forensic computing from Cranfield University and a master’s degree in computer and communications law from Queen Mary, University of London. He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and won the ACCA Gold Medal in 2001. He is also a certified fraud examiner and lectures regularly on information governance and forensic technology.

WWL says: Standout practitioner Phil Beckett is “well regarded in the marketplace” thanks to his 19 years of experience in the forensic technology arena.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Data which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Investigations: Digital Forensic Experts

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice in London, brings more than 18 years of experience in forensic technology engagements, advising clients on forensic investigations of digital evidence, the interrogation of complex data sets, information governance, cyber risk and the disclosure of electronic documents.

Mr Beckett has led anti-bribery/Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations, incident-response engagements, kickback investigations, intellectual property (IP) theft cases, employment disputes, cartel/antitrust investigations, and compliance review exercises. He has also supported commercial litigation and international arbitrations.

Mr Beckett has regularly been appointed as an information technology forensics expert and managed the execution of multi-site civil search orders whereby he has provided expert testimony. Mr Beckett also served as an expert witness in Imerman v Tchenguiz ([2010] EWCA Civ 908).

Mr Beckett has worked on a large number of high-profile e-disclosure cases, including litigation between Russian entities in the High Court, where data had to be managed in an extremely secure environment across the UK and Russia. Mr Beckett also managed a regulatory review of a global bank trader performed by multiple regulators involving data from multiple systems and jurisdictions, including instant message chat and voice data.

Mr Beckett earned a bachelors degree in computing and management from Loughborough University, a master’s degree in forensic computing from Cranfield University and a master’s degree in computer and communications law from Queen Mary, University of London. He is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and won the ACCA Gold Medal in 2001. He is also a certified fraud examiner and lectures regularly on information governance and forensic technology.

WWL says: Phil Beckett comes “highly recommended” for his IT forensics expertise that has seen him advise and lead a number of cross-border investigations across a broad range of industry sectors.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Investigations which can be purchased from our Shop.

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