Organizations deal with lawsuits all the time – from workplace discrimination, overtime pay, customer injuries sustained on-premises, intellectual property, contracts and more. When litigation looms, organizations have a duty to identify and preserve relevant data that may be evidence to the specific litigation. The purpose is to avoid the intentional or inadvertent destruction of relevant evidence that might be used at trial. We call this process a “legal hold,” or sometimes a “litigation hold.”
Failure to properly implement and execute a legal hold can result in serious consequences for an organization: courts can impose monetary sanctions, instruct the jury about the lost evidence, or even throw out an entire case. A simple mistake, such as neglecting to contact a key custodian or failing to get an acknowledgment, could lead to lost evidence and sanctions for spoliation.
Preserving digital evidence
Today, evidence is largely digital and includes email, Microsoft Office 365 data, sales-tracking data, databases, collaboration platforms with chat and video, document management and sharing systems, line of business applications, and data from new sources like chat, Internet of Things devices, drones, telemetric devices and more.
The volume of data and myriad of disparate sources makes managing legal hold and preservation efforts tricky and error-prone. Although lawyers and their staff have ultimate responsibility over the process, they rely heavily on IT to execute many of the activities associated with a legal hold. This creates a burden on IT, makes the process inefficient and may put legal, IT or the organization at risk if legal obligations aren’t met.
The role of IT teams
But what, exactly, is the role of IT in the process? IT teams know the company’s systems, networks and servers better than any other department in the organization, and thus execute many of the mechanics of a legal hold as part of the “first response” team, ensuring that the mechanics of preservation happen correctly. Legal departments can’t manage litigation holds or data preservation without IT’s help to gather and store information needed to prove or defend a case correctly.
Legal holds without the headaches
A new practical ebook, Legal holds without the headaches, is available for IT professionals who want to learn more about the duties and risks associated with the legal hold and preservation process and work more effectively with their corporate legal department.
Download this short ebook to learn:
- The respective roles of legal and IT
- Key legal hold terminology
- The mechanics of defensible collection and preservation
- Collaboration tips between legal and IT to ensure an effective legal hold program
Cloud technology such as OpenText™ Legal Hold can eliminate the pain and headaches associated with issuing and managing holds by centralizing and automating previously unwieldy and risk-prone processes.
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