Do you remember what you had for lunch last Tuesday? And exactly which documents did you sign on July 15, 2004? While the answer to the first question may be trivial, the answer to the second is not—especially if it’s posed during a lawsuit and the opposing counsel wants those documents delivered tomorrow.
Civil litigation is one of the most painful experiences any small business can endure, largely due to the cost and effort of discovery requests. Beyond rounding up and processing what’s likely to be a large passel of documents, you must pay someone to ensure they’re complete. According to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, document review accounts for 70 percent of total e-discovery costs.
Does Your Backup Have Your Back?
How do you ensure that your company can meet a huge discovery request? By answering the following four questions before you’re hit with one.
#1: We can’t anticipate every request. Can’t we just store everything?
Even if your company never faces civil litigation, the costs of keeping every record you’ve ever created would break your budget. Then, of course, it’s going to cost you time and money to root through your archives in search of the required records. (One low-end estimate is $620,000 per case—yes, you’re reading that correctly.) How can you avoid these problems? Engage a trusted partner to help you securely shred outdated documents that can hamper a legal or discovery request.
#2: What can we safely toss?
Recent rulings about a company’s duty to preserve backup tapes have muddied already murky waters. If your tapes are used strictly for disaster recovery, for example, you can recycle them on a regular schedule. However, in most cases, you must retain tapes holding discoverable data. Teaming with an informed partner that provides a policy solution can help you navigate this legal minefield.
#3: What about texts and social media? Can the attorneys ask to see all of that?
Sure. If it’s relevant to the case—and even sometimes when it’s not—plaintiffs can ask for your IMs, tweets and posts, regardless of where or if they’re stored. In a recent case, a company was fined nearly $1 million for failing to preserve numerous company records, including text messages from employees’ cell phones.
#4: What’s a desirable turnaround time to recover documents for a discovery request?
The answer really depends on the volume of information you must sift through and how organized that material is in your archives. One boon to retrieval times for tape is an online portal, which enables easy remote access to information stored within your vendor’s tape management system.
This discovery discussion might have you thinking you’ve forgotten something important about your approach to data storage—and you very well may have: When you work with a savvy partner to strengthen your document retention program, you’re protecting your business against potential threats and setting it up meet any discovery requests with confidence.