E-Discovery: Putting The Rules Into Play

Friday, December 1, 2006 - 00:00

A November 2 seminar hosted by Greenberg Traurig, Guidance Software and Jordan Lawrence attracted in-house counsel and IT specialists, who are often called on to quickly and rapidly help their companies to produce electronic. The seminar examined the latest developments in e-discovery with a focus on developing effective strategies for handling electronically stored information and making the new e-discovery rules work to achieve corporate objectives.

The speakers were Adam B. Landa, a patent attorney and litigator who co-chairs Greenberg Traurig's national e-Retention and Litigation Preparedness practice group; Patrick Burke, an assistant general counsel of Guidance Software who works with in-house law departments implementing enterprise-wide e-discovery platforms; and Jeff Hatfield, a senior vice president of Jordan Lawrence who consults with companies on compliance strategies to help them get a handle on records management for regulatory and legal demands, by establishing and enforcing legally defensible corporate records programs covering all records platforms.

Mr. Landa opened the seminar with a detailed analysis of the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which became effective on December 1. The amendments add a new term: electronically stored information ('ESI'), but Mr. Landa noted, 'There is no definition for ESI!' He then described the new rules and provided examples of their impact.

Mr. Burke recommended that companies that are faced with a good amount of litigation should bring e-discovery in-house. 'The software tools in today's marketplace enable companies to get a better grip on their data so that they can quickly and cost-effectively meet their preservation and production obligations. ESI management needs to be more than responding to an e-discovery emergency. It should position the company to use its data effectively on a going forward basis.'

Mr. Hatfield described the importance of developing and enforcing corporate records policies. Companies can be overwhelmed by records-related issues not only in tackling e-discovery, but also in meeting regulatory obligations, managing content for business purposes and controlling costs associated with email, word processing and other ESI.He concluded, 'The key is to have policies that are connected to practice and technology. It is imperative that the company ensures that its employees know about its policies and follow them. Enforcement is no longer optional and is essential to reducing risks and related costs.'