A look at data classification products for e-discovery


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It's important that the discovery processes developed are repeatable because it's likely that the frequency of inquiries and subpoenas will increase. Consider the following facts derived from ESG research:

  • 7% of respondents receive multiple electronic evidence requests per week
  • 12% of respondents receive multiple electronic evidence requests per month
  • 35% of respondents receive multiple electronic evidence requests per year

As organizations create and store substantial amounts of data, litigators and regulators will look for evidence in e-mail, business apps, PCs and storage systems. Technology solutions can expedite the location and review of evidence, allowing attorneys to spend more time preparing legal strategies around the most relevant evidence. Without the correct combination of people, processes and technology, an organization increases its risk and potential legal liability; failing to produce evidence, producing the wrong evidence or not understanding the entire landscape of a case can result in substantial fines or unwelcome settlements.

You may wonder why I didn't mention any vendors by name when I discussed the potential technology that can assist in an e-discovery event. Ticking off the names of a few vendors might be helpful, but a little advice on selecting hardware and software products to support your litigation

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processes would probably be far more useful. When evaluating vendors, I suggest asking how internal counsel at these technology providers handle their legal matters.

Over the past few months, I've met with a few vendors that have grappled with the "people" part of the e-discovery process. EMC's associate general counsel is working with internal IT resources to facilitate e-discovery processes and, as a result, is also the lead for the company's e-discovery products. Attenex, a maker of content analytic software for e-discovery, was spun off from a large Seattle-based law firm. Computer Associates, via acquisition, boasts some legal supervision capabilities with product management headed up by an attorney. Zantaz picked up significant legal talent when it acquired Steelpoint Technologies.

These vendors are trying to avoid the "cobbler's children have no shoes" syndrome, but by no means do they represent a comprehensive list of e-discovery vendors in the marketplace today. But having met with the legal experts in these companies, I'm comfortable they understand that people and processes are just as important to the e-discovery process as any hardware or software they may sell.

"If you store it, they--regulators and litigators--will come" might not be a terribly original or creative tagline, but it underscores the importance of taking e-discovery seriously. Companies must prepare to mitigate the risk and cost associated with electronic discoveries. The alternative just might be seeing your company sharing headlines with the likes of Enron, ImClone and MCI.

This was first published in June 2006

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