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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Phil Beckett stands out as one of the foremost digital forensic experts in the region. His top-tier practice spans a range of matters including investigations and IP theft.

Questions & Answers

Phil Beckett is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s (A&M) global disputes and investigations practice in London and leads the pan-European forensic technology team. He brings more than 20 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. He was named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

What attracted you to a career in consultancy?

When considering what employment options I had when leaving university, consultancy appealed to me for many reasons: the ability to solve problems, to work closely with clients, to have a range of projects, challenges and clients to work on – rather than doing the same thing over and over again. Finally, I was attracted to the range of different options that consultancy offered to shape your career.

What qualities make for an effective testifying expert?

The most obvious is being technically excellent – you really do need to know your subject area. But there is more to it than that; you need to have an eye for detail, be able to think about and critique alternative hypotheses, not stray outside your area of expertise or your expert view, and be able to communicate complex topics in a way that non-experts can easily understand.

What are some of the main challenges currently facing forensic experts?

The fact that the underlying technologies that everyone uses continues to change rapidly – be it with mobile devices, social media, cloud-based technologies, ephemeral data or the applications themselves. That means you need to be able to stay up to date with modern technological changes, but also have the ability to understand and analyse legacy systems as an investigation can often involve a historic dimension. It is not only the changing nature of the technologies, but the fact that new ones seem to spring up so rapidly, meaning there is an ever-growing list of technologies you need to be prepared to deal with.

What makes Alvarez & Marsal stand out from competitors?

Alvarez & Marsal differentiates itself in a number of key ways, including the following.

First, the range of forensic technology services that we perform within one team, ensuring that data, analytical and information governance skills are appropriately used 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(s) rather than being “passed” from department to department.

Third, our “client-first” approach ensures that we are available when needed, flexible as appropriate, experts 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. We have people in the US, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, China, India, Russia, UAE and the UK who all know and trust each other. This means we can offer global coverage with the same degree of knowledge and expertise.

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

What I am most proud of in my career is the fact that I have helped talented individuals succeed and develop their own careers. Linked to this is the ability to identify, build and retain a high-performing team – something that is essential as projects become larger, more complex and diverse. This helps our team exceed client expectations and deal with the various challenges that are inevitable in these types of project.

What is the best piece of career advice you have received?

I am not sure there is a single piece of advice that has dramatically impacted my career, but I have had a number of mentors throughout my career that have helped me along the way (and still do). Having someone who can stand back and provide independent advice to you when you need it (and especially when you don’t know you need it) has helped me greatly, and it is something that I would encourage everyone to consider.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

With over 20 years of experience, Phil Beckett is widely considered a "top tier" forensic technology expert.

Questions & Answers

Phil Beckett is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations practice in Europe. Phil brings more than 20 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. He was WWL’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

How has globalisation impacted your technology-focused practice? 

As business in general has globalised, the investigations into these businesses have also globalised. This has led to projects that touch multiple jurisdictions across the world – each of which have different local legislation and cultures that need to be incorporated into investigations.

In what ways is the next generation of communication channels impacting investigations? 

As technology develops, and the gap between personal and business communication channels shrinks, there is a much more extensive range of channels and tools that must be incorporated into an investigation. This is something that is not always done – especially those tools that use ephemeral data, which must be considered differently.

There is an increasingly porous divide between the business and personal spheres owing to the advent of smartphones and more sophisticated communication systems. What issues does this raise for investigation specialists like yourself? 

As referenced above, the lines between personal and business communication channels continue to blur. This means that when conducting an investigation, we have to consider not just the computers used by the individuals but also their smartphones, cloud accounts and other devices. The investigation not only needs to incorporate the data from these devices into the workflow from a documen or communication review, but they also need to be investigated from a forensic perspective, meaning the analysis of internet history and other artefacts become a central component of an investigation.

What part does structured data play now in investigations, and how do you deal with this data? 

Structured data has always played an important role in investigations. It is essential that this data is considered in virtually every investigation, as it provides evidence of many business activities – not just the accounting data, but data that covers every part of a business. This is very different from communications and unstructured data, and therefore must be analysed in a structured and methodical manner. To do this requires a different workflow, as the underlying systems and data must be fully understood so that sophisticated analysis can be performed and included in the overall investigation. As ever, this part of the investigation must be fully incorporated into the wider investigation process.

How have you seen companies’ approaches to cybersecurity issues and data breaches evolve over the past few years? 

In respect to cybersecurity and related issues, the one change that has been evident in companies’ approaches to this has been the interest and involvement of senior company management. This is partially driven by the increased monetary fines related to the GDPR, but also the realisation that cybersecurity impacts every company and therefore is something that requires boards and senior management to take seriously. What is becoming increasingly important to those stakeholders is the need to fully understand the risks and how they should be mitigated, which involves not just a technical solution, but a defined process and human elements as well. Given the notification requirements of GDPR, and the ever-expanding global laws on privacy, these issues are only going to become more important to companies. 

What can we expect from government authorities in the future regarding cybersecurity? 

I think we’ll see increasingly proactive steps from government authorities, with more and more involvement from national technical authorities – both explicitly (ie, direct involvement) and through providing tacit support through briefings, alerts and guidance. In addition, I think we will see more support from government to address the cybersecurity “skills gap”, for example increasing STEM support, apprenticeships, reskilling support, etc. Not only does this assist businesses and the protection of critical national infrastructure, but also, for particularly sensitive projects, countries will want to use their home-grown talent and resources where they can.

What is it about your role as managing director that you enjoy most?

People is the short answer, but there are multiple dimensions to this. First and foremost, it is the team I work with. It is fantastic to work with intelligent and dedicated individuals and solve client problems with them, as well as helping and watching them develop throughout their careers. Secondly, it’s the law firms we work for. I enjoy teaming up with them to solve problems and come up with creative solutions – even if this is sometimes not myself or my team, but rather another part of Alvarez & Marsal or external firms. Finally, the ultimate clients we assist and support nearly always have interesting backgrounds and experiences, which makes much of our work very exciting, challenging and diverse.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I have recently taken over as practice leader of A&M’s disputes and investigations team in Europe, and I am very much looking forward to the challenges, successes and different perspectives that this will bring. I hope to provide a greater range of solutions to the increasingly technical nature of the issues our clients face. Finally, I’m excited to see how we collaborate across all of the European practices to provide careers and challenges to our people. Interesting times ahead!

Global Leader

Data - Data Experts 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Phil Beckett is lauded as a “seasoned forensic technology practitioner” with a wealth of experience advising international clients across the financial services, automotive and construction sectors.

Biography

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. He was recently named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year for the second year running.

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 Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Phil Beckett stands out as one of the foremost digital forensic experts in the region. His top-tier practice spans a range of matters including investigations and IP theft.

Biography

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice in London, brings more than 20 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 named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

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 Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Phil Beckett is a first-rate forensic technology, investigations and disclosure expert with 15 years' experience advising major international clients across numerous industry sectors.

Biography

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice in London, brings more than 20 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 named Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

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 Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

With over 20 years of experience, Phil Beckett is widely considered a "top tier" forensic technology expert.

Biography

Phil Beckett, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal, heads A&M’s disputes and investigations practice in Europe. He brings more than 20 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. He was Who’s Who Legal’s Investigations Digital Forensic Expert of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

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.

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