By Tim Rollins
For many organizations, e-discovery often ends up as a reactive fire drill, rather than a standard business process. Perhaps the IT is unaware of potential litigation risks and has to scramble to preserve electronically stored information (ESI) before it is deleted. Or maybe the legal department hasn’t heard about a human resources issue that has become contentious. So the arrival of a litigation notice is unanticipated, and teams spring into action, doing what they think is best.
They may do a fantastic job, preserve all the relevant ESI, and set up outside counsel to successfully defend the organization against the claim. But it’s quite possible that won’t happen. Failing to have a process in place has two considerable negatives that must be reckoned with:
- It increases e-discovery costs. Organizations without defined processes often find themselves forced to enlist outside teams to help them with the basic tasks of e-discovery—tasks many internal legal teams can handle on their own.
- It increases legal risk. Without defined processes, the risks of accidental or intentional data spoliation are much higher. Custodians may not know how to respond to a legal hold, or IT teams may not think to suspend data disposition policies, leading to the loss of relevant ESI.
The recent Gartner report, Defining Your E-Discovery Process Will Lower Costs and Reduce Risks, notes a key challenge is:
"Current e-discovery practices often fail because they don’t address the full process of e-discovery from identification through preservation and presentation."
Fortunately, the report offers a straightforward recommendation. Organizations can:
"Reduce the risk of incomplete data and discovery results by using an e-discovery process that addresses all the stages of the e-discovery reference model."
How does one go about building an end-to-end e-discovery process? Applying project management principles and technology can help organizations move toward:
- Minimizing risk
- Reducing costs
- Gaining insight
- Tracking progress
Rather than disparate, disjointed processes for identification, preservation, collection, review, and analysis, conducted by different in-house and external teams, a unified e-discovery process can ensure smooth handoffs between legal teams, IT professionals, document review attorneys, and outside counsel.
The mandate for taking action is clear and will only grow more compelling in the coming years. As the Gartner report explains:
"Data will not cease to grow. Despite the declining cost of storage, more data correlates to higher costs, especially for highly regulated industries."
If you’re interested in learning how to apply a “business process” mindset to e-discovery, start by downloading this complimentary Gartner report from Exterro today.