‘The American Lawyer’ Names Catalyst CEO One of E-Discovery’s Six Top Trailblazers


George Socha and John Tredennick

The American Lawyer today named John Tredennick, Catalyst’s founder and CEO, as one of the six most important trailblazers in e-discovery. The magazine recognized Tredennick for his pioneering work in developing web-based repositories for litigation and e-discovery, first as a litigation partner at the Denver-based law firm Holland & Hart and then as founder of Catalyst.

A lot of lawyers have become evangelists for technology; Tredennick is more of a seer. First as a litigator at Denver’s Holland & Hart, then as the firm’s CTO, and finally as CEO of Catalyst Repository Systems, Tredennick early on spotted the potential of the big tech trends: the Web, the cloud, and Big Data. And he ran with them.

The article, written by reporter Alan Cohen, also recognizes as e-discovery trailblazers:

Tredennick is singled out as a trailblazer for his idea in 1996 to put a Web-based interface on a docketing system he had developed for his law firm. While cloud hosting is a routine concept today, the article notes, it was anything but routine back then. Soon, Tredennick expanded the concept to documents, developing online repositories to facilitate access to documents by the firm’s lawyers as well as by clients and co-counsel. “He was ahead of the curve by a mile,” Mark Brennan, counsel at Bryan Cave, tells The American Lawyer. “There were tools out there, but none of them were Web-based. John was insightful and foresightful in leading that effort.” In 2000, Tredennick and his firm spun off the secure, web-based repositories into a separate business, originally called CaseShare before becoming Catalyst. There, as writer Cohen explains, the trailblazing continued:

Tredennick looked into his crystal ball and, once again, got it right. Anticipating dramatically increased data sets, he leveraged cloud and distributed storage technology, and moved away from the highly structured forms that data traditionally had to be stored in. Instead, he designed flexible, scalable systems. To put it in layman’s terms: It’s the approach that Google hit on, too.

The article does not mention something else Tredennick pioneered. He created the first system to combine PDF images with OCR text, thereby enabling litigators to see the original document while searching for keywords. This development won the 1999  Computerworld/Smithsonian Honor and remains a foundation of much of contemporary e-discovery technology. As part of the same feature on e-discovery’s trailblazers, The American Lawyer also recognizes five influential federal judges.


About Bob Ambrogi

Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. He held the top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal and Lawyers USA. A long-time advisor to Catalyst, Bob now divides his time between law practice and media consulting. He writes two blogs, LawSites and MediaLaw, co-authors Law.com's Legal Blog Watch, and co-hosts the weekly legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. A 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School, Bob is a life member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which honored him in 1994 with its President's Award.