Legal holds occur when a company must preserve its records in response to litigation. When this happens, employees need to be notified so they do not delete or alter any related digital or paper records. While it may seem simple, failure to execute a hold properly can put your company at significant risk.
With the threat of litigation from entities such as competitors and customers, legal teams are frequently finding themselves having to issue legal holds. The growing presence of electronic data (emails, documents, files) only increases the need for security and a clear, stronghold process.
Your IT and legal departments play crucial roles in this process, but a cloud-based enterprise legal management (ELM) solution can streamline operations with automation.
What is the legal hold process, and why is it important?
When a legal hold is issued, legal teams cannot process or delete data in order to ensure that any relevant information is available during discovery. Custodians of the data must be identified and promptly informed of the hold so that the data can be properly preserved.
The legal hold process includes:
- Identifying custodians and other data stewards (such as IT staff).
- Issuing a hold notice.
- Documenting the process.
If your legal hold gets called into question by a judge, you have the burden of proving your legal hold process is defensible. Any missing data may be viewed as a coverup and can cast the organization in an unfavorable light. Your company could be fined, take a hit to its reputation, or lose the case altogether.
Legal holds and the roles of IT and in-house legal teams
When implementing a legal hold system across an organization, the IT and legal departments need to work together to handle the process effectively. The IT department is knowledgeable of the servers and systems that data is stored on while the legal department is responsible for managing the hold process.
By working together, each department can communicate the unique needs and tasks of their department and create a solution to coordinate a complete legal hold process across the organization.
How ELM software can help you execute legal holds effectively
When a hold is issued, your company is responsible for managing and monitoring data preservation. While many companies have legal hold procedures in place, they aren’t always in optimal condition to accurately preserve data.
Many companies are still using emails to notify custodians and spreadsheets to track responses. With thousands of documents and files stored in multiple locations (servers, data centers, personal computers) and possibly dozens of custodians, it can be a daunting, time-consuming task. That’s where a cloud-based solution comes in.
Cloud-based systems like Acuity ELM allow your IT and legal departments to automate the legal hold process. They can:
- Reduce the need for print documents by storing data in cloud-based systems.
- Automate data backups.
- Speed up the process by which information is shared from your legal department to third parties.
- Automate reminders for custodians.
- Easily complete acknowledgments with digital signatures and queue-based workflows.
- Track all changes made to documents to ensure data preservation, data documentation, and collection of activities.
- Monitor the progress of all legal holds.
- Ensure that matters regarding the case comply with legal hold requirements.
With the help of Acuity ELM’s legal hold solution, your in-house team no longer has to be burdened by manual management of the entire process. Learn more about Acuity ELM and the advantages it can bring to your legal team by booking a demo today.