Since March, most corporate counsel and discovery response teams have been working remotely. The global pandemic may have paused or slowed many civil courts, regulators and auditors, but not all. Many of my long term corporate clients issued work stoppage orders to control costs and gather information on the potential impact of the pandemic. It is now clear that social distancing and travel restrictions may be the new normal for an extended period. This means eDiscovery professionals need a plan to get back to work where possible under adverse circumstances. Here are some of my thoughts on building a response plan.
- Review and amend legal hold notice and preservation instructions to accommodate custodians suddenly working from home and communicating via new channels like Zoom. Make sure that MIS understands key preservation obligations and consults with Legal prior to making major changes in their struggles to keep the company connected.
- Review and amend personnel departure protocols in light of potential layoffs, furloughs or emergency M&A actions.
- Build a list of priority matters, investigations, or regulatory requests that could significantly impact the company if filing or production deadlines are missed. Counsel should file for extensions or park matters where feasible, but your GC or AGC needs to make those calls and clearly designate matters that must stay active.
- Control significant passive costs like hosting, storage, retainers, subscriptions and managed service agreements. This may be a simple as having active review databases moved to nearline storage or requesting service suspension for a quarter. Good firms and providers will do what they can to keep the relationship healthy for full business resumption.
- Build a personnel contingency plan that identifies key decision or operational players. I know global corporations that rely on a handful of talented senior staff to manage hundreds of matters with billions at stake. This virus does not respect competency or critical need. Worse, eDiscovery professionals tend to be work-a-holics and stress junkies.
- Monitor key providers and firms that host critical services or collections. The sudden hit to the economy may crash a heavily leveraged provider that you rely on. Make sure that you have retrieval clauses and are actively communicating to give you time to extract work product. Far too many corporations rely on their firms and providers without keeping backups of all raw collections, productions, etc.
I hope that you have already thought thru most of my highlights. Stay safe and protect your relevant ESI!
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.
Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations.