Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2011-03-22 09:33:09Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. As analysts, we are always looking ahead at what is coming next.  We study today’s best practices, research trends, and look at as many solutions on the market as we can.  But, we are generally obsessed with forecasting the next big thing.  At eDiscoveryJournal, however, we’re more obsessed with looking at the near-term future.  Our clients want us rooted in pragmatism.  No one wants to hear us say that automated content analytics will gain mainstream acceptance in three to five years.  What they want to know is what they need to do within the next few months to stay in line with best practices.

Greg Buckles’ recent post on legal hold notices reaching eDiscovery platforms hinted at something that I believe many organizations will be doing this year – connecting legal hold process management with execution of collection and preservation activities.   While this would seem an obvious and not-so-revolutionary next step, it’s one that is not easy to implement and not necessarily specifically called for in any rules governing the practice of eDiscovery.  Thus, I sense hesitation on the part of some practitioners.  But, I believe the process management and IT benefits of making the connection will ultimately start to win out this year.

Making a more concrete connection between the legal hold notification process and content lockdown actually forces organizations into better overall information governance and management practices.  The connection actually forces organizations to undertake some real data mapping initiatives.  As they understand more about where data lives, they know more about how to best manage it.  The issue in practice is that data mapping is not necessarily easy and for most system it is inherently manual.  But, as organizations undertake those initiatives, they also learn what tools might best help them manage eDiscovery (e.g. tools that can crawl file systems or tools that can defensibly collect from SharePoint).

In theory, organizations should also decrease risk by relying less on custodial self-collection and gaining more defensibility in preservation efforts.  This assumes that data mapping is done correctly and that the tools used to connect notification to loc-down or collection actually function properly and efficiently.   Not only will risk decrease in terms of defensibility, but also from cost management.  By connecting notification and collection, it will be more possible to reduce the amount of over-collection that occurs when all of a custodian’s information is collected.  Better information management should allow more filtering upfront (again, in theory).  In fact, such potential cost savings are what will likely green-light some of these projects.

For IT, there are benefits from connecting notification to execution of collection, too.  One of those benefits is the ability to almost get out of the way of legal in the preservation process.  Let me explain that…many of the IT people I talk to feel like they are always reacting to a legal collection or preservation request.  The request is typically along the lines of, “get me all content from the following custodians.”  This throws IT off because it takes time and money to do the collection and it takes resources off other projects.  Many IT folks want legal to have the tools to manage the eDiscovery process themselves (or have an IT division specifically devoted to legal and eDiscovery…but that’s a post for a different day).  If IT can get the tools to allow legal to more efficiently control eDiscovery without completely reliance on IT resources for collection and preservation, it’s a win.

Not all organizations will begin more directly connecting the notification process with content lock-down.  Skeptics will point to case law that only requires the notification process to be managed.  But, I think smart organizations will undertake projects in 2011 because of the potential benefits.  In addition, such a connection is crucial for organizations that need to do investigations that involve non-cooperative custodians.  Think of that scenario as the lowest common denominator, which is what smart organizations manage to.

What do you think?  Is this the year that organizations start to connect legal hold notification to actual collection and preservation?

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