Executive Briefing

New e-discovery rules will change document management

With Sai Gundavelli, CEO, Solix Technologies, a provider of eDiscovery software.

Question: Can you briefly summarize the upcoming changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) as they concern electronic documents?

Gundavelli: While a litigant is under no duty to keep or retain every document in its possession... it is under a duty to

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preserve what it knows or reasonably should know, is relevant in action, is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, is reasonably likely to be requested during discovery, and/or is the subject of the pending discovery request.

Having said that, every organization now needs to set up a policy on what electronic documents need to be preserved and what needs to be destroyed and why and when. As long as the rules are consistent and not event-based, it will put organizations at lesser risk to meet the new FRCP laws on e-discovery.

Question: How will these changes affect corporate litigation? Are they a good thing or a bad thing for the corporate legal team?

Gundavelli: One major impact I see is in the enterprise reports space. Currently most enterprises print physically some of the reports and store them in paper format. With this new law, I think that will change. The main reason for that is, when you print and store the reports in paper format, you lose the metadata -- who/when/where printed, last modified, date created, report criteria, report access privileges, etc. Companies will now need to archive the reports generated automatically to preserve the metadata and also make them searchable. This will drive organizations to have proper document management system, software that can archive reports automatically from the enterprise applications.

[The new rules] force companies to be lot more organized. Enterprises have been using different automation tools/software and collecting huge amounts of data. Organizing the data will help in maintaining the data quality standards as well as making it searchable -- this not only helps in compliance matters such as with the FRCP, more importantly, it can resolve issues before it becomes a problem.

Imagine someone sending an e-mail/chat and someone complaining of sexual harassment in that session. [If there is an] automatic alert to legal because of the words "sexual harassment" [appearing in the] email/chat, this will help legal or HR to know before it becomes a legal nightmare.

Question: How should companies go about preparing to comply with the new rules?

Gundavelli: Organizations have data in documents, email, chats and applications. Companies should start looking at tools that can provide enterprise data management and enterprise search or e-discovery. In order to implement a single search tool across all enterprise data, one should look at a platform...that can manage all enterprise data, not singular tools to manage each type of data. That will defeat the purpose of enterprise search.

This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.


This was first published in November 2006

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