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Proactive eDiscovery

proactive ediscovery

Creating an Enterprise Legal Event Response Team

A Legal Event Response Team is a great first step for proactive eDiscovery planning. It is a group of key individuals, both inside and outside of an organization, that is tasked with preparing for, evaluating and managing an organization’s response to legal events.

Legal events that a Legal Event Response Team prepares to manage include litigations, regulatory investigations, internal incidents such as HR and IP theft and other similar legally related actions.

Who’s on the Legal Event Response Team?

The company’s Legal Event Response Team is generally headed by the organization’s General Counsel or other senior management personnel and usually includes members from the Information Technology (IT) department, Human Resources (HR), outside counsel, and outside consultants or service providers. Each of those members plays a pivotal role in ensuring that a proactive eDiscovery strategy will succeed and that all aspects of the eDiscovery process are well covered.

What tools does the team use?

The most effective Legal Event Response Teams create a legal event response playbook (or eDiscovery Playbook) that provides clear and comprehensive guidelines and checklists that should be followed any time a legal event takes place. The playbook is composed of eDiscovery best practices, from how to identify custodians and issue legal hold notices to taking steps to suspend automated data destruction policies and preserving, collecting and culling ESI. The playbook should cover the entire eDiscovery process from beginning to end. 

While creating a Legal Event Response Team and the eDiscovery playbook that it will use may seem like a big commitment, the reality is quite the opposite – and indeed is much less time and cost than required to handle each legal event in an inevitable ad hoc manner.

While it may take time for the Legal Event Response Team to create the eDiscovery playbook, the ROI on that effort can be surprising as costs generally plummet when the process is standardized across all legal events. 

Maintaining proactive eDiscovery within the enterprise.

Once these proactive steps such as the response team and the playbook are created, it takes very little ongoing commitment to maintaining. We recommend that the team meet quarterly or semi-annually to review, and if necessary, revise the playbook to account for any modifications to internal systems and processes. Changes to major IT systems or updates in applicable laws or regulations are the very type of events that the team would monitor and review with respect to any changes required to enterprise-wide eDiscovery strategy.

For example, in enterprises without this type of coordinated approach, if a business line requests a new system or software from IT without ensuring that its data can be easily preserved for legal hold reasons, costs will skyrocket if and when that system must be accessed for eDiscovery purposes if the eDiscovery service provider must use special, non-standard means to retrieve that data for data preservation reasons.

When done right, the Legal Event Response Team and the eDiscovery playbook to which it refers and updates will help the enterprise drastically reduce its costs and stress on legal timelines and litigation scheduling – and importantly – will help reduce the frustrations that too often define eDiscovery today.

Read more about how eDiscovery has become entrenched in the modern enterprise in our article, eDiscovery as a Standard Business Process.