Discovering eDiscovery

Yesterday I attended a 1/2 day seminar on a new subject for me called eDiscovery. The event was located in the Westen Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta. The speaker was Randy Kahn, an author and consultant specializing in legal and compliance issues of information technology. It wasn’t a fun event but I did learn a couple of things in this area. Probably the most important was that unless you are a brokerage company then you have no legal requirement to retain email records of employees….which was news to me. Legal problems around email can arise if a lawsuit is filed against your company and past emails exist either in backups or retention systems. Lawyers can request access to those emails and if the old emails are subsequently deleted in the normal course of backup cycling for example the company can be charged with destruction of evidence.  So the key points here are that the emails EXIST and a lawsuit has started. If the emails don’t exist then there’s not a problem. Of course the company may loose a case where the emails would have provided evidence in it’s favor. But my point is the IT manager isn’t legally responsible for emails that have been deleted in the normal course of doing business. Good to know. Another thing I learned is it’s important for a company to have a record retention policy in place the defines what kind of documents (contracts for example) will be retained for how long and making sure employees have read the policy. And finally one thing Mr Kahn stressed over and over so I think we all got it was that record retention is NOT backups…which is how most companies handle record retention. Hopefully I won’t ever have to be involved in eDiscovery, which is going back through electronic records to recover information that pertains to a lawsuit. If I do then I hope my company employs a real record retention system versus relying on backup tapes. Next subject!