Blame Jonathan Maas for reminding me of my 5000:1 rule from the Enron email review. “For every 5,000 emails we review someone gets fired.” To put that rule in late 1990’s context, everyone having a corporate email account was still a relatively new thing. Just like the pandemic driven adoption spike in IM collaboration, Teams, Zoom, etc. usage we are experiencing today. Suddenly, pipeline and offshore rig workers had an email account and supervisors had brand new Blackberry’s for 24-hour on call response. All of this rolled out with minimal or no usage policy training to educate users in corporate email etiquette. So what to you think we found in our first ever giant email review?
- Obscenity & Porn – Every kind imaginable and many that my poor paralegal’s had never conceived of.
- Bribery & Kickbacks – From pictures of employee pools with supplier logos to “What’s in it for me?” becoming a compliance search.
- Workplace affairs – Get really awkward when they are people you work next to.
The list goes on and you get the point. Vast numbers of us are working from home with active video cameras and open-ended chats. Today’s employees under legal hold frequently have a mistaken presumption of privacy on these new collaboration streams. Just like their expectations that the company will never collect/review their work phones.
Every time users adopt a new communication data stream or social-professional platform we go through the same maturity cycle. Providers rarely build in search, export and monitoring features in the first versions. Users feel empowered and are casual/open until the first person gets reprimanded for not wearing pants on a Zoom call. Plaintiff interrogatories and discovery requests lag corporate adoption until news stories break featuring evidence from Parler, Zoom recordings, etc. Once investigators start demanding the latest collaboration stream they start showing up in discovery requests. Corporate legal struggles to preserve/collect/review the new stream. Retained counsel or providers tend to giggle and ignore inappropriate non-relevant items. I am seeing inside counsel take ownership of smaller reviews now that cloud eDiscovery platforms have better consumption models (RelativityOne). These in-house teams are much more likely to route bombshell screenshots to HR or Compliance.
I have been watching and remediating these ‘new technology adoption pain points’ for decades now. I now push clients to take a proactive registration and education stance by establishing a formal adoption process for users. After all, good employees are always looking for a competitive edge. So the company should give them a way to submit/request new collaboration streams that includes a requirements checklist and a stakeholder approval process. First time access or installation of a new collaboration stream should include at least a plain language usage policy acceptance screen. If history tells us anything, there are new collaboration streams around the corner. Quit chasing innovation and cultivate it while minimizing risk. What is the strangest new communication stream you have stumbled across?
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Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
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