How to Prepare Your Company for eDiscovery

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Discovery is the process of each side in a case producing the information relative to a lawsuit. eDiscovery, on the other hand, is the finding, collecting and producing of digital records for discovery. This process includes word processor files, emails, databases, and video files. It can involve many different file types on devices from laptops to servers to cell phones. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your company for eDiscovery.

Prepare the People Before You Implement the Software

eDiscovery systems help digitize the auditing process, creating the right legal flow of documents and communication. However, significant work needs to be done before your company is able to implement these systems. For example, everyone involved needs to be properly trained in how to use the software and compliance standards they must meet.

That is aside from educating staff regarding rules to preserve any records relevant to pending litigation. Your company must have procedures in place to ensure the data retention policy is understood and implemented as well as training for everyone who is brought into the organization.

Coordinate IT with Legal Counsel

Many businesses utilize automated processes for both archiving and deleting of data. When a litigation hold is issued for relevant records, deletion processes need to be disabled. E-discovery thus requires coordination between IT and legal counsel.

Businesses need to have end-user notification to inform them immediately if they are subject to a litigation hold. The notice must describe their obligations and the types of records that must be preserved. An email to all affected users may be the first step to protecting the necessary records.

Have a Plan for Electronic Discovery

The screening and production of documents for eDiscovery could be done by your own staff or outside experts brought in for that purpose. For example, companies like Secure Data Recovery routinely perform eDiscovery for various organizations. Hiring outside experts is recommended if this is the first time you’ve done eDiscovery.

The companies are able to locate all sources of electronically stored information (ESI) and determine the best way to collect it whether you’re dealing with work stations, tablets, surveillance cameras, GPS systems, cloud services or industrial systems. They’ll also protect the data from being changed while litigation is going. IT experts with these firms may be needed to restore archive backups, convert legacy file formats and analyze text.

Create IT Policies to Comply with eDiscovery Requirements

Businesses need a record preservation system for the duration of the litigation hold. This may involve external hard drives, backups to the cloud of all files or an e-discovery system. HR and IT may fight over the clearing out of sensitive files, since IT may want to delete sensitive information to protect against identity theft, while HR wants to hold onto everything to avoid fruitless searching for documents that no longer exist.

You may not want to preserve all records forever. Record retention schedules tend to call for the automated deletion of files and destruction of records when they reach the end of their useful life. You can still use these processes as long as you can disable the automatic deletion process as soon as a litigation hold occurs. Not having a sufficient data retention policy can undermine your company’s position in litigation or result in stiff fines.

So, eDiscovery does not have to shut down the IT systems on which your business operations relies. A combination of the right IT policies, software tools to support this process and experts as required can make eDiscovery as straightforward as possible.

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