ABA TECHSHOW 2009: “Litigation Hold Q&A”

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After an Expo Hall break, both Craig Ball and Patrick Oot returned for a fabulous roundtable session where they invited the audience to ask questions and even pose specific scenarios from their own projects for collective discussion. This was an amazing opportunity to get input from two well-respected luminaries in the e-discovery space and I frankly thought that more folks would have attended. On the other hand  there were some othere terrific sessions in the same slot (such as the Keyword Search session with Jason Baron and Judge Rosenbaum).ABATECHSHOW2009

I can frankly listen to both of these gentlemen for hours on end because I have such high appreciation for their experience and perspective, but it was tough to get questions from the audience. I finally asked Patrick if he could share a little bit more about Verizon’s decision to create a “homegrown” litigation hold system instead of purchasing a system from one of the vendors in the space.

Patrick explained again how they looked at some vendors like Exterro and PSS Systems, but when he discussed the situation with his security professional, Patrick was shown a similar notification system that was already in place for another purpose. As Patrick stated in the earlier session, not everyone has the luxury of skilled programmers on staff, but in Verizon’s case, it worked out best to develop the system in-house.

Patrick also mentioned that Verizon has purchased EnCase Enterprise and Patrick has the vision that one day the EnCase product will integrate with their current litigation hold notification system and their e-mail system so that they can hit one button, have notices sent out, track those notices through auto-responders, and all the while have EnCase collect the relevant data.

Another question came from my good friend Jeff Beard who now works with Daticon-EED – he asked about tracking the systems once a litigation hold comes into play.

Craig Ball answered that the biggest problem is getting a lackluster response from the folks that are responding to the litigation hold, which is usually an indication that top-down buy-in is lacking. Craig suggested that the hold notification should come from the business side and perhaps NOT the lawyer.

Craig then asked a question of the audience, inquiring about their biggest complaint when it comes to litigation holds.

One audience member bemoaned the fact that most complaints and document requests are so overly broad that the matters become unmanageable. Craig stated that the mistake most lawyers make is that they simply visit an e-discovery vendor’s Website and download a form which says “save everything.”

Craig then had an insightful comment to close the session:

I consider preservation letters a gift because it gives me insight into the other side’s real intention. If it says “save all the metadata,” then I know they are an ignoramous. But if they are specific in their request, then I know that I have to have my ducks in a row because they know exactly what they’re doing.