Retention schedules can be an important tool for eDiscovery, but it’s important they include a few key components. I recently spoke with Sheryl Thierry, Director of Records Management at URS Infrastructure & Environment, to get a road map of what an effective records management policy should look like, and to find out what records custodians and trigger events can do for your retention schedules. She also gave some advice on what things to include in a policy statement, how to fashion records/legal hold orders, and the importance of ESI data mapping.
Amber Scorah: Can you go into a little depth about records management policies and records retention schedules, and what they mean to eDiscovery?
Sheryl Thierry: Retention schedules can be an important tool for E-discovery if they include a few key components such as the records custodian and trigger event. The custodian role in the process is to manage the record during and after the active lifecycle and as such is an excellent point of contact during discovery. The trigger event will provide the legal team with a guide to locate the record based on the lifecycle status.
Of course, the retention period is the most relevant component for discovery to determine if the record should still be available. The policy statement should confirm the roles and responsibilities of key individuals and how electronic records are to be handled.
Amber Scorah: When writing the records/legal hold order, how should one fashion it so that users truly understand what it means to/for them?
Sheryl Thierry: Most employees will need to know the legal hold order is related to a dispute, is time sensitive, and requires immediate preservation of records regardless of media. This should be presented in the initial paragraph and should include an official statement of the purpose and the employee’s responsibilities. The order should then provide detail about the dispute that clearly defines the work or project related to the dispute.
Additional direction to the employee should include a more detailed definition of a litigation hold, the scope of preservation that includes obligations to preserve copies and all media, and a specific order to cease destruction of all records related to the dispute.
Amber Scorah: What about the eStuff? What is the importance of knowing and understanding ESI data mapping?
Sheryl Thierry: Understanding where electronic records are stored and how they are accessed is critical to effectively finding relevant data in a timely manner. ESI mapping can be complex in decentralized organizations and many forms of storage can be overlooked. A good records management policy includes a defined role for the IT team including a responsibility to maintain a current ESI data map at least annually. This data map should be submitted to the records management team and the legal department on a regular basis so questions can be addressed before a litigation order is received.