Lending aid: Company gives a boost to Signature Event

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 By Paul Janczewski

Legal News
 
Mark St. Peter grew up in Detroit with an eye towards becoming a pediatric surgeon. But his aptitude with math and science also drew him into the relatively new world of computers.
 
His dreams of saving the lives of children clashed with his growing expertise of all things computerized, so St. Peter decided to spend his life making magic with a mouse and a keyboard instead.
 
Good choice. Today, he’s the co-founder and managing director of Computing Source, with offices in Southfield, Detroit, and Chicago. The company, started in 2001, is now the go-to firm for providing electronic discovery and computer forensics in the region, according to St. Peter.
 
“I’ve always been fascinated with computers,” St. Peter said. “You could make the machine do magic with just a few commands, make a computer jump through hoops.”
 
He actually attended the University of Michigan on a scholarship to become a pediatric surgeon, but veered off that path because of his work in high school on school computers. 
 
“One thing led to another,” St Peter said, and he found himself not only working on computers, but also writing insurance software programs for one of the high school’s alums.
 
The summer between high school and college, St. Peter worked for more than 60 insurance agencies that asked for the same program. He balanced college work and establishing his own company, writing payroll and electronic banking software. When pediatric surgeon studies became too much, coupled with his growing business in computers, St. Peter said he was “overwhelmed” by all the work he was doing and decided to put aside his medical studies and concentrate on his computer work.
 
“Like so many people in (the computer) field, I just didn’t graduate,” he said. 
 
His successes in programming outweighed a future in medical school. 
 
“There was a veer of my path,” St. Peter said, noting that a lack of a college degree didn’t stop Bill Gates or Steve Jobs either. 
 
“So I don’t have any shame in that,” he said.
 
As the years progressed, so did St. Peter’s knowledge of and skills in the computer world, working for another company until 2001, when he and his partners decided to focus on professional services at their new company, Computing Source.
 
Eventually their company evolved. At first, it focused on network design and installation. But in 2004, the company entered the legal arena. The case involved a back-up tape. One thing led to another, and soon St. Peter discovered a vacuum, where lawyers were dealing more and more with digital information in court cases and had few places to look for help.
 
Together, St. Peter, along with partners Steve King and Rob Remdenok, began to fill that niche. 
 
“Now, we service lawyers, judges, legal departments of large corporations with a whole gamut of services, ranging from digitization of documents—scanning, copying, turning them into PDFs or images, all the way up to expert testimony at trial in matters concerning computers, technology and data,” St. Peter said. “And everything in between.”
 
In the past few decades, St. Peter said the field has grown exponentially, and includes computer forensics, such as recovering and interpreting data. They’ve worked on every type of case, from divorces involving infidelity, corporate cases involving fraud, stolen data, and more.
 
To keep up with the demand, and to authenticate his knowledge, St. Peter has obtained the titles of Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) from the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
 
Those distinctions add weight and immediate credibility when St. Peter is called as an expert witness on a case to explain digital evidence to a judge or a jury, both in civil and criminal cases. 
 
“Criminal cases are out there, and we do work on them, but the civil business cases are the bread and butter of our work,” he said.
 
St. Peter is proud to say his company is the largest, locally owned operation in the field, which allows it to know the players in the legal arena, how the system works, and to keep costs and delays down. 
 
“We’ve formed some great relationships with some outstanding litigators in the area,” he said.
 
The company has between 15-20 employees and attracts top talent. St. Peter also provides columns to local publications and offers tips to attorneys on navigating the world of computer forensics “to make their lives easier.”
 
“This is something I’ve always loved doing and to see it be a financial success is awe inspiring,“ he said.
 
As its legal business and reputation has grown, St. Peter said the company has grown to sponsor more and more legal causes. And this year, Computing Source is proud to be a platinum sponsor of the 14th Annual Signature Event tonight at Oakland Hills Country Club. By donating $10,000 for its sponsorship, the company, and others in the greater Detroit area, help the Oakland County Bar Foundation’s annual fund-raiser, which supports legal aid causes and various other charitable programs in the Metro Detroit community.
 
This year’s contributions will be used to support OCBF grants for the University of Detroit Mobile Law Office, the Family Law Assistance Program, the Youth Law Conference, the Center for Civic Education Through Law, and the Beaumont Hospital Legal Aid for Children program, among other recipients. Since 2002, the OCBF, with the support of its sponsors in the Signature Event, has contributed more than $1.2 million to various legal aid and educational causes.
 
“The Signature Event is outstanding because it provides legal assistance for those who can’t afford it,” St. Peter said. “It’s a very good cause, a showcase event, and we’re very proud to be a part of that and give back to the community that’s been so kind to us, and helped us grow as a company.”