Sunday, February 10, 2008

White paper summary - What Legal Wants

I read this white paper sponsored by Contoural, Inc. called, "What Legal Wants...and 7 things IT can do to meet Legal's needs". Here is the summary, in relevance to the Insurance industry and enterprise content management.

Nearly all companies in the course of regular business activities become the target of lawsuits, which vary from simple employee wrongful termination to major litigations such as class-action lawsuits. Litigations, in fact, are a reality of doing business. In the Auto Insurance industry, a huge portion of the lawsuits that the companies face comes from their Claims division, as one may expect. The explosion of electronic documents, along with new regulations, new trends in litigation discovery and how end users handle documents are forcing organizations to re-think their document retention and discovery strategies. According to a recent study from UC Berkeley, more than 96% of all information of an enterprise is in digital format and even 70% of all paper documents are copies of electronic documents.

The different kinds of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) -

I can tell in the Auto Insurance industry, we manage (scan, index, archive and retrieve) all these classes of documents which prevail as a result of the complexity of this data-driven industry.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is the process in which both parties in a lawsuit discover relevant information concerning a case. Ordered by the court during the initial phases of a lawsuit, discovery can be required both of the plaintiff and the defendant. A business that receives a discovery request that calls for the production of electronic and other documents is obligated to make a reasonable effort to search its records for responsive communications.

"Spoliation" - is the term used by courts to describe the improper destruction of evidence, including email and messages. Companies are guilty of spoliation if they destroy evidence like company records relevant to a litigation with the purpose or intent of preventing the other party from using the evidence against them. Spoliation can occur through a "conscious" decision and also unconsciously through inactivity to prevent destruction of email.

Relevant changes to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
The FRCP are a body of rules focussed on governing court procedures for managing civil lawsuits in United States. Here are some of the changes related to discovery that went into effect on December 1, 2006.

As it is obvious from the above summary the importance that IT plays in working with Legal to ensure smooth and reliable discovery like archiving, maintaining proper records retention strategies, and the actual electronic discovery process in the event of a lawsuit. In addition, according to Contoural, here are 7 things that IT can do to meet Legal's needs
(1) Create fast, effective litigation hold processes
(2) Educate Legal on archival capabilities of the IT organization
(3) Find and retrieve documents in native format
(4) Create and update an ESI survey data map
(5) Partner with Legal in creating the document retention policy
(6) Disable PST files and other forms of underground archival
(7) Create process for deleting older email and files that are not under hold or needed for compliance or business processes

By helping Legal with these activities, IT will move from a reactive state to a state of litigation readiness.

Gartner lists Attenex, Aungate, Dataflight, MetaLincs, Summation as some of the key vendors of E-Discovery software. EMC, IBM FileNet, HummingBird, Open Text are some of the top players in the much more complicated Records Management product which enables organizations to create the retention schedules and automate the management of their records retention policies. Since these products are very expensive and mostly have license-based costing, it depends on the companies health and IT investment strategy to go for these!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good read.

BTW, I was waiting to hear your comments on the Yahoo-Microsoft-Google noise ;)


9:00 PM  
Blogger Padmanaban Kumar (Paddu @ Just for Kicks) said...

hehehe, that would have been too commonplace a discussion given the hype that it created

7:33 PM  

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