If you’ve seen the documentary “A Decade in Discovery” which tracks an attorney’s quest to find a better way to search White House emails, you quickly realize that even back then the volume of emails was enormous. Manually processing 20 million emails took 6 months and 25 people.
Today’s litigation cases contains much more information with emails being just one of the many data sources that must be preserved and reviewed. For example, Lehman Brothers litigation involved 3 petabytes of information; 40 million pages of documents were reviewed using 70 contract attorneys. We live in a world of information inflation and big data litigation has just begun. There is not enough time or resources to process the exponential volume of data in the traditional, manual way.
Organizations need to be smarter in how they preserve and delete data. Preserving every piece of data forever is not feasible nor is it cost effective. However, the demand to preserve relevant information is there and courts will not hesitate to levy hefty fines on companies for spoliation. Yet, record retention policies are often “second guessed” because the policies are usually not integrated into normal business processes, thus the decision regarding what is kept or deleted often feels “ad hoc”.
Courts realize that there is a lifecycle for records and any records retention policy must include a strategy for “defensible deletion”. Companies usually keep information for several reasons: regulatory compliance, litigation hold and critical business information. Based on these criteria, everything else should be deleted. But how long do you keep these documents? How long is too long? The requirements for records retention for the public sector is different than what is required for the private sector. And then there’s the technology issue. Are there technology available that can accommodate the long retention span of e-records to ensure that they are easily accessible when needed?
To learn more about how to deal with the many challenges of preserving electronic records, watch our webinar, “eDiscovery Proof Your Email Archive” with Jason R. Baron, Information Governance and eDiscovery Group, Drinker Biddle & Realth LLP.