As part of transitioning to my new responsibilities I’ve been spending quite a lot of time reading up on Electronic Discovery best practices. One of the themes that I’ve been seeing over and over again is this idea that anytime there’s impending litigation against a company, you have to immediately get a key IT person involved. Someone who knows the infrastructure, who knows where everything is stored and can testify to that as part of the discovery process. You have to have them implement a “legal hold”, which basically to recycling backup tapes or doing anything else that might destroy data relevant to the litigation as soon as you become aware that it is impending. Again, you need your key IT people to do this properly.
Anyway, not to bore you with too many legal details, (those are now my problem, not yours) but in reading about all the contact needed with key IT folks, both in implementing a hold, and having them present at discovery depositions, I wondered why, if this is a legal best practice, I hadn’t ever heard anyone in the IT community really discuss having been through this sort of scenario? Shouldn’t Sys Admins be familiar with the concept? Isn’t it odd that of all the Sys Admin types I know, I’ve never heard one talk about dealing with electronic discovery from this end of the situation? I’ve heard plenty of folks talk about retention policies, which are part of the whole area, but nothing about how those policies come into play when your company is party to litigation. Are there legal reasons to not discuss it at all, or is it a much less frequent occurrence than my research would lead me to believe?
So, I want to know. Have any of you been involved in a “hold” situation, or had to appear at a deposition to describe what electronic storage is available and can be searched? Leave a comment, tell me about it, and be sure to change names, dates, places, etc. Wouldn’t want any of you to be back dealing with the lawyers again. Even if you’ve never been involved in something like this, tell us what you think about it. Does your organization have good policies in place? Are you aware of what to do if it happens, has anyone identified who the key people are ahead of time? I’m curious to see how these best practices are playing outside the legal community.