Relativity launched Justice for Change, an initiative that offers RelativityOne software (built on Microsoft Azure) free of charge to organizations—including existing customers—leading pro bono cases with a focus on racial and social justice. Justice for Change has supported over 60 justice-oriented matters to date—from protecting gender equity to preserving the rights of the incarcerated.
Relativity is a global legal technology company with a mission “to organize data, discover the truth, and act on it.” In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, helping customers accomplish this mission took on new meaning. Relativity’s social impact team, which had existed for a decade, began to reevaluate company practices: How could Relativity’s product be further leveraged to support racial justice?
Employees called on executive leadership, expressing the importance of their organization going beyond releasing a statement, to instead take action. Within months, Relativity launched Justice for Change, an initiative that offers RelativityOne software (built on Microsoft Azure) free of charge to organizations—including existing customers—leading pro bono cases with a focus on racial and social justice. Justice for Change has supported over 60 justice-oriented matters to date—from protecting gender equity to preserving the rights of the incarcerated.
Selected organizations receive project management support from Relativity or a collaborating firm, empowering them to use the software for the greatest impact. “We were able to go up and down our supply chain, as a vendor, to bring people into this work,” said Colleen Costello, Head of Social Impact.
Complete Discovery Source was the first of Relativity’s collaborators to join Justice for Change. “Managing discovery is arguably one of the most expensive parts of the litigation process,” said Chris O’Connor, Director of eDiscovery Strategy at CDS. “Yet, despite this, the focus is often on a client’s ability to afford legal representation, not whether they can afford the technology needed to gain access to justice.”
Recently, the Innocence Project and Hawaii Innocence Project, in collaboration with CDS, leveraged RelativityOne software to discover key evidence in case documents—leading to the exoneration of Ian Schweitzer, who was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder in 2000.
“This case is an example of the impact that our software has on cases related to social and racial justice,” said Johnathan Hill, Program Manager for Social Impact.
Meeting over lunch in Chicago, Colleen Costello and Nisaini Rexach, Community Engagement Lead at Microsoft Philanthropies, collaborated to bridge their firms’ existing commercial relationship with social impact initiatives. In December of 2022, Microsoft awarded Relativity a substantial grant in Azure credits to be used towards Justice for Change and another social impact program, Relativity Academic Partners.
“Microsoft’s support opens doors and avenues that we were not able to think about in the past. Both the quantity and the quality of the social impact program that we offer is exponentially going to increase,” Costello said. Chris Izsak, GTM Manager at Relativity, agreed: “Microsoft was the missing link in the cause and mission that we had.”
“It's amazing to see what's possible when we align our resources with other companies, like Relativity, who are looking to make an impact in the community that's both palpable and enduring,” said Rexach.
Costello sees the long-term impact of this change as twofold. First, there is the central mission of Justice for Change—“to level the playing field in courts of law for people who might not have easy access to the truth”—which is made possible by the collaborations Relativity has forged across its supply chain.
Beyond the widespread success of this mission, Relativity hopes to encourage and inspire more companies to pursue vertically integrated social impact. “Microsoft is supporting Relativity, Relativity is supporting our customers, and our customers are now directly supporting these causes,” explained Costello. “The power of having hundreds of thousands of people, in these groups of companies, that are now standing up, rallying, and supporting something bigger than their corporate mission—that’s where tidal waves of change are going to come.”
Photo courtesy of Innocence Project