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The Convergence of Information Governance and E-Discovery

Created on February 28, 2012

As e-discovery becomes more of a mainstream business process for organizations, the E-Discovery Beat team is increasing our coverage of topics of particular interest to information technology professionals. Here are a few of the topics we will be tackling in upcoming posts:

  • Information governance – how it fits in with e-discovery initiatives (today's post)
  • Archiving and content management – how it can support e-discovery strategies
  • Cloud-based storage and archiving – ensuring efficient retrieval of ESI at the forefront (vs. afterthought)
  • Matter management integration – why it can keep e-discovery response teams sane
  • Collecting ESI from mobile devices – tools and best-practice policies
  • From collections to externally-hosted review – when to do it and how to manage it
  • Records management – importance of staying coordinated with legal hold and early case assessment (ECA) processes

Jim FitzGerald, Exterro's director of product marketing and strategic alliances, will be contributing his perspectives on these topics. We'll also be inviting industry experts in the above fields to weigh in with guest commentary.


The rapid growth of electronically stored information (ESI) and its increasing relevance in litigation and regulatory matters is compelling organizations to reassess how business-critical information is managed. As the market moves from reactive to proactive e-discovery management, this “Information Governance" (IG) has gained new relevance and priority as a framework for coping with its challenges.

What is Information Governance?

IG is focused on dealing with the many complexities that come along with storing, managing and accessing ESI in the digital age. It incorporates the full information lifecycle, accounting for an organization's regulatory and legal risks, as well as other environmental and operational requirements. Barry Murphy, lead analyst with the eDiscovery Journal, defines IG as the comprehensive program of controls, processes and technologies designed to help organizations maximize the value of information assets while minimizing associated risks and costs. He notes that IG should not be thought of as a separate category from information management; rather, it represents a different perspective. Organizations that already have a strong records management (RM) function will recognize many familiar concepts in IG – with an added twist.

How do IG and E-Discovery Intersect?

To support e-discovery requests, IT managers and legal counsel must work together to deliver reliable and timely access to potentially relevant ESI. It is often difficult to meet court-mandated deadlines because ESI is frequently stored on numerous sources (e.g., fileservers, content management systems, desktops, laptops, mobile devices, archives and other storage assets), each with specific access requirements. Identifying which IT assets are most relevant to a case is the first trick; systematically suspending disposition policies, preserving the ESI and proactively de-duplicating/ indexing the ESI is a tougher corollary. For this reason, IG and e-discovery are very closely interconnected. If IG processes don't reflect and support e-discovery needs, organizations can become exposed to much undue risk.

Both e-discovery and IG are supported by various technologies. A challenge for many companies is integrating these technologies under a common umbrella. For example, many organizations have deployed journaling or archiving systems for managing corporate email, but they have not gone the next step to index this content for rapid retrieval. Taking the time to think through how archiving and indexing of ESI can aid in the identification of content owners/editors/readers, creation/use dates and search criteria relevance is a key to understanding the value of proactive management of these sources. These systems can be huge productivity aids when automating ESI preservation, ECA and collection for e-discovery.

By integrating e-discovery and IG technologies, organizations can respond to document production requests much more quickly and efficiently, while also reducing legal risks and costs.

The Future

Studies indicate that while a vast majority of organizations recognize the importance of information governance, most companies are still in the formative stages of implementing a comprehensive, integrated IG strategy. The technology itself is also evolving to reflect the growing importance of cross-functional use by IT, RM and legal.

To learn more about steps legal and IT teams can take to reduce the costs and risks of e-discovery, view Barry Murphy's webcast, sponsored by Exterro, “Marrying Workflow and Data To Make eDiscovery a Manageable Business Process."