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Information Governance: Key to eDiscovery Readiness


2/16/15

Vincenzo Toppi, CPA, CIRA, CFF, Director, CohnReznick Advisory Group, Restructuring, Litigation, and Transactional Services

When it comes to data management or “information governance,” there are several compelling benefits to using best practices. These include reduced information maintenance costs, more meaningful business intelligence, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and better alignment between organizational objectives and the IT function. 

However, one of the most important benefits of practicing proper information governance may not be so obvious: easy retrieval of electronically stored information (ESI). Why? Consider what happens when an organization receives a request for ESI pursuant to litigation.

An organization with an effective information governance program in place can easily locate, identify and preserve relevant ESI. This ESI can be further narrowed down by an experienced eDiscovery expert throughout the collection, processing, extraction, and production stages. In turn, the organization’s legal counsel can present specific and defensible ESI because this program enables the streamlining of workflows, facilitates the timely, efficient transfer of ESI – and ultimately instills confidence in the integrity of both the ESI and its provider.

There are several questions a legal practitioner should consider asking when assessing an organization’s eDiscovery readiness so that, in the event of litigation, the entity can easily provide responsive data – and only the responsive data. Questions to consider include:

  • Are there policies and procedures in place to facilitate the timely identification, location, and preservation of ESI?
    • Are there retention policies in place? If so, how long is ESI retained prior to deletion?
    • Which mechanisms are in place to monitor compliance with the retention policies?
    • Are employees trained in effective document management?
    • Are the retention policies that are in place compliant with industry regulation and standards?
       
  • Which data is being stored?
    • How recent is the data being stored?
    • Is protected information being stored?
       
  • Who are the key custodians of the data?
    • Who has control over the stored data?
       
  • Where is the data stored?
    • Is a third party data warehouse being used?
    • Does the existing data site-plan accurately define the realities of the data center?
       
  • How accessible, searchable, and sortable is the stored data?
    • Is the data organized by matter numbers, significance levels, or another sortable method?
       

Thoroughly discussing and addressing these questions can ease the burden of Rule 26(f) conferences where the preservation, collection, and production of ESI are discussed. Additionally, your client will be well prepared, informed and aware of the information contained within their data. Answering these questions will also lead to the creation of a comprehensive and defensible ESI-repository map which generally serves as an “inventory” of an organization’s data and documentation storage systems.

While many aspects of litigation preparedness can be onerous and costly, eDiscovery readiness does not have to be. By developing and implementing an effective information governance program capable of addressing the questions outlined above, an organization can rest assured that – if and when litigation arises and eDiscovery requests are imminent – it has all of its bases covered.

What does CohnReznick think?

  • An information governance program based on “best practices” can dramatically improve an organization’s litigation and eDiscovery readiness.
  • A robust information governance program can enable the streamlining of workflows, facilitate the timely transfer of ESI, mitigate costs, and serve as a significant driver of efficiencies throughout the eDiscovery process.
  • By comprehensively discussing and addressing the questions outlined above, organizations and their legal counsel can better prepare themselves for unprecedented litigation and eDiscovery requests.
     

For more information on CohnReznick LLP’s computer forensics and eDiscovery services, click here.


This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its members, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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