These questions and many more are asked over and over by in-house legal departments. Defending the corporation against lawsuits is a standard part of conducting business, yet there is no organized business process for discovery response in an electronic world.
In-house lawyers are finding themselves relegated to doing the best they can, and are increasingly frustrated over being told it is "impossible" to access a particular piece or type of information only to learn (usually at a hearing and usually through expert testimony provided by the opposition) that access to the data is not only possible but not difficult either.
So, how does an organization that faces litigation get prepared? By being litigation ready. Organizations today must consider implementing a litigation response system as an organized business process. Ideally, this litigation response system involves the following steps:
Assess the current litigation response 'system': A litigation readiness team can help an organization completely review and assess what systems (people, processes and technologies) are in place. More importantly, the team can identify what processes are lacking for effectively and accurately responding to a discovery requests. The mechanics of this process are important because, if done right, the total cost of discovery response can be significantly reduced.
Create a litigation response plan: The plan should provide recommendations for personnel roles and responsibilities, technology improvements, and a roadmap for responding to each case.
Implementing the litigation response system:Once the plan is developed, IT needs to have in place all of the technology tools and processes needed for responding to discovery requests.
One emerging technology tool is a Web-based system for tracking and managing responses as lawsuits are filed so the legal teams, either at an outside law firm or in house, and their IT departments can stay connected and in synch on any given matter.
By understanding the process and having a plan in place, corporate legal and IT departments can more readily respond to discovery requests at any given time without hampering the day-to-day operations.
Mary Mack is an attorney with more than 22 years experience. As the director of Sales Engineering for Fios, a provider of electronic discovery services, she helps customers define the scope of potential projects. For more information about Fios please visit www.fiosinc.com or call (877) 700-3467.
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