Survey Reveals Organizations Are Unprepared For E-Discovery Requests

July 11, 2007
New FRCP amendments make process more painful; more than half of IT managers surveyed would rather have a cavity filled than fulfill a request for e-discovery.

Many companies are not well prepared for the new amendments made to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which require organizations that operate within the United States to manage their electronic data so that it can be produced in a timely and complete manner. As a result, many IT departments are seeking technology solutions to help implement effective e-discovery plans.

On the heels of headline-making email debacles such as Intel's anti-competitive lawsuit with AMD that involved missing emails, and the White House situation where the Republican Party was unable to account for five million emails, businesses are recognizing the need to quickly and easily provide emails in the event of a discovery request. Additionally, the amendments made to the FRCP are driving the need for cost effective technologies that simplify the e-discovery process.

A recent survey, sponsored by LiveOffice and conducted by Osterman Research, polled more than 400 IT managers and end users nationwide in early June. Survey findings revealed 63% of respondents have been required to produce an email as part of a legal action, yet 53% admit they are not prepared to meet the new requirements of the amendments made to the FRCP. In fact, nearly one in three (28.9%) organizations admitted they are not even aware of the FRCP regulations.

The survey also revealed that when it comes to e-discovery requests, IT managers cringe. The study results showed that IT managers find e-discovery requests so painful that dealing with the IRS was the only activity respondents found more unpleasant. In fact, more than half of survey respondents cited that they'd rather have a cavity filled than respond to an e-discovery request.

According to the survey, 52% of IT managers polled do not have an e-discovery plan that has been prepared by legal counsel, increasing the chances of costly mistakes.

Despite the fact that several well-known companies have paid the price for not having an effective e-discovery plan in place, nearly one-third of the organizations polled admitted that, even if they had to, they would not be able to produce an email that is a year old. This is likely due to the fact that one in four organizations say they purge their emails manually or automatically after 90 days or less, a practice that is clearly inadequate to meet the needs of most organizations, particularly in light of the recent changes to the FRCP and e-discovery case law.

Courts and the recent new amendments made to the FRCP place a burden on legal counsel to ensure that all relevant electronic data is gathered and preserved. Compounding this issue is the sheer magnitude of emails organizations are now managing. Survey findings revealed that a single employee, on average, will send and receive more than 135 emails per day. This means that a mid-sized organization, with 500 employees, will generate more than 17.5 million emails per year. It is the responsibility of the organization to know where and how to retrieve all of these emails at any time; especially in the case of an electronic discovery action.

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About the Author

Brad Kenney | Chief Marketing Officer

Brad Kenney is the former Technology Editor of IndustryWeek and now serves as director of the mobile/social platforms practice at R/GA, a global marketing/advertising firm in New York City.

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