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Electronic discovery worse than dentist, IT execs say

A new study  reveals that nearly 50% of IT managers and end users would rather have a cavity filled than respond to an electronic discovery request.

The study, sponsored by Torrance, Calif.-based email service provider Live Office LLC and conducted by Osterman Research has significance for value-added resellers who want to frame a convincing message to clients that preserving electronic documents can save them time, money and pain, researchers say. 

Drilling down into the numbers shows that almost a third of the 400 IT managers and end-users surveyed believe they can’t produce a one-year-old e-mail within a reasonable time – even in response to a subpoena or other legal procedure during a lawsuit.

More than twice as many – 63% — have been required to produce e-mail as part of a legal action.

One in three organizations — a number that may or may not represent the same respondents who don’t believe they can produce an old email – believe they don’t have to produce one, either. Unfortunately, six-month-old additions to the  Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – the rules under which courts and lawyers operate in civil suits – cover electronic evidence, and require that it be produced if necessary. Even more unfortunately, 52% of those companies said they don’t have an electronic discovery system in place.

“What we found is that a lot of organizations are simply not as prepared as they need to be for e-Discovery and archiving in general,” said Michael Osterman, founder of Osterman Research. 

According to Osterman, value added resellers should take the opportunity to drive home a clear message to potential customers that they need email archiving applications to shore up their evidence in legal cases.   

“For value added resellers what they need to take to their prospects is this message that you potentially could be on the hook for very large legal judgments and for lose of reputation,” Osterman said.   

Matt Smith, president of LiveOffice, said he’s seen customers who have had cases brought against them and have spent millions of dollars to retrieve data from tapes. 

“We’ve heard nightmare stories about containers of cardboard boxes filled with paper and lawyers going through each page because the company printed their e-mails.  The legal fees get extremely expensive in situations like these,” Smith said. 

Still, many of those IT managers and end users polled think they can be their own legal defense because one in four organizations said they purge emails manually, and that has to be quite a lot of emails when considering that the average employee sends more than 135 emails per day, the survey said.

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