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The Keys to Defensibly Releasing Legal Holds

Created on April 17, 2014

Vice President, E-Discovery


The over-preservation of electronically stored information for e-discovery has been a major theme in 2014. Because of the antiquated "collect/preserve-everything" approach, organizations are feeling the time and cost burden of searching, storing and managing millions of documents. A good starting point for solving this problem is to actually release legal holds. Simple as it may sound, releasing a legal hold requires a repeatable, consistent process that accounts for numerous IT and legal factors.

Ed Hallock, Director, Product Marketing at RSD, is an experienced IT professional with expertise in enterprise content management including document archive & retrieval, web content presentment, e-mail archiving, records management and information governance. Ed recently presented on Exterro and RSD's complimentary webcast, Clean Up the E-Discovery Leftovers: Learn how to defensibly release legal holds to avoid costly over-preservation of data. I had the chance to speak with Ed about this recent emphasis on reducing this over-preservation syndrome and how developing a legal hold release process fits in.

125-140-hamilton-mike-2.png Mike Hamilton, J.D.
Partner Marketing Manager

Mike Hamilton: In the context of e-discovery and information governance concerns, why is it imperative for organizations to have a clearly defined process for releasing legal holds?

Ed Hallock: There are a number of reasons that should motivate organizations to have a defined process for releasing legal holds. Held records need to be released so they go back into their normal retention schedules ensuring they are ultimately deleted in a defensible manner. Otherwise, organizations are exposed to the risks of over retention including wasted storage resources as well as more extensive and expensive e-discovery processes which might occur with future litigation.

Mike Hamilton: Releasing a legal hold sounds like a relatively simple task (i.e. send email notification to applicable custodians of the release), but in reality it seems like it's the opposite. Why do you think organizations struggle with releasing legal holds?

Ed-hallock v2 Ed Hallock
Director of Product Marketing

Ed Hallock: Organizations struggle because in many cases the held records might be distributed across different repositories and locations requiring the custodian to know where they are as well as how to release them. The how to part can be very complex. For example, what needs to be done to return a held record to its normal retention schedule processing? What happens if a record to be released is actually expired upon release? How is the deletion done in an auditable and defensible manner?

Mike Hamilton: When a legal hold is released, how and when should organizations start to delete this information? What benefits does deleting this information have?

Ed Hallock: As I have already indicated, held records need to return to their normal retention schedule processing. The best case scenario, retention processing will be automated with released records being deleted as they reach their expiration periods, or immediately upon release of records which may have already expired during the time they were held. Deleting information that expires is important for containing storage costs and reducing future e-discovery risk and cost.

Mike Hamilton: You are speaking on Exterro and RSD's upcoming webcast, Clean Up Your E-Discovery Leftovers. What do you hope viewers come away with from the presentation?

Ed Hallock: That having a formal legal case management process to collect, preserve, and release records appropriately is a critical part of information governance to shield organizations from risk as well as help them contain costs. Furthermore, defensible disposition of released records based on their original retention schedule prior to being held, requires an automated information governance platform to truly be effective.