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Jon Fowler is a rising star, excelling globally in digital forensics, forensic collection and e-discovery.
Jon Fowler is a managing director at Secretariat based in London. He is an eDiscovery and digital forensic expert with more than 16 years of experience covering a variety of sectors, with a particular focus on financial regulatory investigations and large-scale complex litigation.
Mr. Fowler’s extensive experience includes leading and delivering on large, multi-jurisdictional matters across the globe, including assignments in North America, Asia, and Europe. He specialises in assisting clients with their full disclosure strategy from data scoping and collection, through data processing and review to production.
What initially sparked your interest in the field of digital forensics and investigations?
I’ve always been interested in technology, and progressed from building my own PCs as a teenager to some rudimentary website design. I was in the middle of my undergraduate degree when the first digital forensics masters degrees were starting to appear, it appealed to my inquisitive nature and a misguided idea of a CSI style career. The reality is very different, but I enjoyed the problem solving and variety, so I stuck with it. There weren’t many digital forensics graduates around at the time, so from there it was a straight route into the industry.
Describe your career to date.
Like many people in this industry I started my career at a Big Four accountancy firm, who were early entrants into the forensics and eDiscovery space, likely due to the barriers to entry at the time. From there I moved over to the consultancy world and I’ve worked in various roles, from data collections and investigations through to eDiscovery and analytics, but always remained in the digital forensics/legal technology field. The later part of my career has moved more into the client side, but I have always kept my hand in the technical elements of the work.
What qualities do you believe are essential for a digital forensic expert to possess in order to excel in this field?
A technical background and attention to detail are paramount, but I would say that is almost a baseline. The experts I have seen be most successful have a rounded skillset and are able to easily explain complex technical concepts to non-technical people, primarily lawyers. You also need to be a good listener; understanding what your client is trying to achieve with an investigation both from a substantive and commercial viewpoint are critical.
How do you stay up to date with the latest advancements in digital forensic investigations and legal technology?
Knowing your community is key here. I find that keeping in touch with vendors, attending conferences, and talking to clients and peers about what they’re seeing in the market are all important to stay on top of a quickly moving field. Paying attention to the trends in the general legal landscape is also a major factor as it often shapes what clients are looking for and therefore what offerings are developed; generative AI is a good example of this.
In your opinion, what are the ethical considerations that digital forensic experts should be mindful of when conducting investigations?
You need to remember that whoever you are engaged by, as a digital forensics expert you are there to provide a factual, independent analysis of whatever devices or data you are in receipt of. You also need to be aware that you are often in possession of devices containing sensitive personal information, so confidentiality and professionalism are key.
What steps do you take to continuously develop your professional skills and knowledge in the field of digital forensics?
Training is useful, but at a certain stage you can’t replace hands on work on client matters. Technology has changed so rapidly in recent years, conducting and managing investigations introduces you to new problems to solve and lessons to learn on a daily basis.
What do you enjoy most about working as a digital forensic expert?
The variety. My role takes me from conducting and managing digital forensics investigations to running large scale analytics exercises on eDiscovery matters. No two days are the same and that’s extremely important to me. I also very much enjoy the client side of what we do, purely technical work without human interaction is not for me.
You have enjoyed a distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I’ve worked at some excellent firms with talented colleagues, but always as part of a larger team. I’ve recently started building the team here at Secretariat and am looking forward to growing it into one of the leading expert-driven teams in the market.