E-Discovery Should Be Proactive, Not Reactive

by SAMANTHA MCCOLLOUGH on March 7, 2013

As time moves forward in e-Discovery, or legal document management, companies are growing smarter and are looking to make e-Discovery more efficient and less expensive.

E-Discovery has worked with a “silo approach” for years, states Linda Sharp, the Associate General Counsel for ZL Technologies. This means that when a legal obligation came up, companies would identify which worker was needed to find the correct data. She said this was no easy task, as people have moved around over time, and even if they are still in the same department, there can be complications.

Sharp calls this the “reactive approach” to e-Discovery, which creates issues of document management teams as they try to work to find where information is for each specific case. Over the past few years, she said many companies have started to create data maps to find where documents are stored, and others have created task forces to help with the process.

“Indeed, these are all good first steps,” Sharp said. “Yet despite the best of intentions, such efforts won’t save a company any real money because it does nothing to solve one of the biggest underlying problems plaguing e-Discovery today – data replication and unnecessary storage of non-business records. When enterprises continually store and duplicate the same data over and over again, e-Discovery costs soar, plain and simple.”

To drive success in e-Discovery and document management, companies have been implementing record retention policies on electronic business records, creating legal hold processes and reducing redundancies. If done correctly, a consolidated data approach can let companies save time and money and allow them to search for documents much quicker.

In-house legal counsel should be playing a vital roll in information and content management. Lawyers within companies are usually utilized as a reactive measure relating to e-Discovery, but using them to assist with access to information, document retention, ligation and more can be extremely beneficial, and needs to be considered.

“We have been involved in too many situations where in-house counsel doesn’t have a fundamental understanding of the information that a company possesses – the nature of the information, where it is located, how it is being created, and how and why it is being utilized by the business,” stated a recent CIO article, adding that each company needs to decide its own counsel’s role in the document management process.

Too often, organizations wait until it is too late, until a problem arises, before they address their document management issues. But a proactive approach can save time, money and legal trouble in the long term.

Samantha is the Marketing Manager for iDatix.

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