For many organizations, the impact of litigation has become one of the most costly and time-consuming issues they face. Gartner Inc. estimates that the average cost of defending a lawsuit exceeds $1.5 million per case, with 20% to 30% of that being internal and mostly IT-related. 1 Small wonder, then, that a recent survey of IT professionals found the majority of those polled expect the use of e-discovery processes to increase in the next few years.2
This Tech Brief looks at five ways that archiving can improve the way you handle discovery requests for electronically stored information (ESI).
- Make an early case assessment. Archiving can dramatically accelerate early case assessment and review. Because the information is already collected and indexed, archives are easily searchable, so there’s no need for backup restores or the outsourcing of collection and review. This immediate access to information allows in-house and outside counsel to make strategy decisions about a case before undertaking more expensive discovery efforts.
- Create an ESI data map. Archiving software can play an important role in the development of an ESI data map, which is an overview of electronically stored information across the organization. The data map can be used by legal counsel when preparing for the Rule 26 “meet and confer” process in advance of discovery. Businesses that create an ESI data map as part of a litigation readiness plan can reduce costs and lower their risk of e-discovery noncompliance.
- Automate legal holds. As a number of recent high-profile cases have demonstrated, traditional processes for litigation holds are being challenged as inadequate with respect to ESI. If a company uses technology to run its daily business operations, it may be expected to use similar technologies to search for, collect, and produce requested or subpoenaed information. Archiving can reduce the likelihood of spoliation by automating legal holds and quickly suspending deletion of any stored information.
- Eliminate costly searches for data. When you automate the collection of electronically stored information such as email, instant messages, Microsoft PST files, Lotus NSF files, and Microsoft SharePoint libraries into a central repository, that information can be controlled according to corporate policies or rules and quickly searched. Implementing such technology will help you proactively prepare for litigation and investigation and will reduce the time spent to locate relevant data. Remember: The cost of implementing and managing archiving software pales in comparison to the sanctions a judge could hand down for losing data, or the cost of reviewing massive amounts of data on backup tapes.
- Bring Legal and IT closer together. In addition to its day-to-day responsibilities, IT is being asked to partner with legal departments to develop information retention systems that not only ensure records aren’t accidentally lost or deleted, but can also ensure rapid recovery. Today’s archiving solutions contain advanced search and analysis capabilities such as guided review, conversation threading, and bulk marking and tagging. Relevant items can be preserved as part of the legal hold process and can be exported directly to the requesting party to simplify production. The bottom line: an e-discovery preparedness partnership between IT and legal teams can cut storage costs and improve responsiveness.
To learn more, download the seven-part White Paper Series, “The Windows Manager’s Guide to E-Discovery. Chapter 1: What is E-Discovery and Why Should IT Shops Care?
1 Debra Logan, “Content, Compliance and E-Discovery,” Gartner Inc., October 2007
2 “Big Jump Predicted in Use of eDiscovery,” CIO Update, May 11, 2010