Visibility into the Legal Hold Process is Key
Visibility into the overall legal hold process is the key to managing preservation efforts. Intelligent technologies offer dashboard views based on role and responsibility, and offer content which may help balance staff, acknowledge compliance, charge back to business units, or optimize data management by updating mapping or personnel information. Systems should provide exception handling views to quickly pinpoint issues of non-compliance or information absence.
The legal team involved in the hold process need to be able to easily set reminder intervals, response requirements, offer definitions, time periods for compliance, and escalation paths for noncompliance. Templates should be utilized to streamline communication – headers, footers, selectable text to insert in message body may eliminate repetitive typing and provide consistency in messaging across matters. Automated technology used for legal hold should allow for personalization for a custodian arch-type. Additional information that should fill in should include the custodian’s name, matter, due date, responsible attorney/contact, and other routine information. Noncompliance tracking is a significant feature that should not be overlooked when moving from manual hold tracking to automation.
Making custodians (including IT and other business managers) aware of legal hold duties has become a critical component in this process. This is particularly true for custodians who may be involved in more than one hold, more than one matter. Dashboards which allow employees to view which holds, which matters they are involved in are becoming more popular. This is something to consider as a feature in any technology purchase – what types of role-based dashboards may be deployed, and what information is tracked/viewed in each type of dashboard.
IT is a critical stakeholder in ensuring that legal obligations for information are ultimately addressed. How does the technology present legal holds, collection requests, and retention schedules to IT? Is there a separate interface for IT – coordinating IT discovery activities? How does the system present legal instructions to the stakeholders and process managers? It is by due date, system, data area, business unit, custodian level, etc. This information in any automated system should be configurable per matter or data location. Is it important to delineate the information and hold by company system, country/location, business unit or location? Also consider accessibility, data formats, discovery and preservation capacity, privacy and IP capabilities, and any related governance attributes required when selecting and configuring legal hold technology.
Finally, you need to be able to maintain and update a library of laws and regulations that dictate legal requirements for data, including privacy and data protection laws, discovery rules, and retention laws. Internal protocols on specific discovery handling procedures for matters.