At a time when the amount of worldwide electronic data approaches hundreds and hundreds of zettabytes, preserving data represents a sizeable challenge for many companies. Many turn to legal hold products to accomplish this.
Companies have a duty to demonstrate that they have exercised the proper care to preserve and collect digital evidence and ensure that the entire organization is not at risk. This duty arises at the point in time when litigation is reasonably anticipated, whether the organization is the initiator or the target of litigation.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37(e) states that when “electronically stored information that should have been preserved in the anticipation or conduct of litigation is lost because a party failed to take reasonable steps to preserve it, and it cannot be restored or replaced through additional discovery,” the court may take certain actions. The actions may include sanctions or fines totaling millions of dollars for companies who fail to act.
A legal hold, or litigation hold, is a notification to a company or individuals that material or data regarding an active or anticipated legal proceeding shouldn’t be destroyed. However, it doesn’t guarantee that the material will be preserved. Actual preservation is the responsibility of the notified organization’s leadership and employees involved. Legal hold products can help alleviate the worry and help you sleep well knowing that all bases are covered.
Old Software, More Challenges
Using software that does not simplify the legal hold process is counterproductive and, unfortunately, more common than one may think. Some companies rely on outdated legal hold software or using software that isn’t even designed to handle legal holds. For example, consider programs such as Outlook and Excel. They’re valuable tools used daily in companies worldwide. But using them to manage legal holds would result in a highly manual process that is difficult to track and probably does not meet the necessary level of ESI preservation.
How a Legal Hold Product Preserves ESI
Keeping employees trained and aware of their responsibility in protecting and preserving data is a must. However, legal hold software should be an integral part of the equation. It lets you quickly issue legal hold notifications and manage custodian acknowledgments. Well-chosen legal hold software will also help you:
- Easily track the status of legal holds to know where they stand
- Collect and store custodian acknowledgments and questions
- Send automated notifications and reminders to help track compliance
- Preserve notices and custodian data in a secure location
- Gain a complete audit trail of all legal hold activity
More Information on Legal Holds and Legal Hold Products
Companies must have a well-documented process for executing legal holds and exercising proper care to preserve and collect ESI. The financial and legal risks of doing anything less are vast and would likely fuel damaging repercussions across the entire organization.
If you want to learn more about legal holds and legal hold products, here are three resources.
- How to Implement a World-Class Defensible Legal Hold Process (white paper)
- How to Reduce Legal Hold Complexities during a Time of Zettabyte-Level Data (blog post)
- Legal Holds: To Hold or Not to Hold Shouldn’t be a Question (blog post)
You can also reach out to us to learn more about our legal hold software.