This post on information governance from Helen Geib, QDiscovery General Counsel, was originally published on LinkedIn here. Please visit the original piece to leave any comment.
The Indiana Continuing Legal Education Foundation’s Advanced Corporate Counsel program is an annual state-wide event held this year on August 25-26 at Lake Monroe. The round-table format encourages discussions that capitalize on attendees’ expertise and varying perspectives on topics of particular importance to in-house counsel. Our companies ranged in size from a few to a few thousand employees and represented a wide range of industries and services.
I had the honor to be invited back this year to facilitate the Information Governance session. Information governance has become virtually indispensable as it is closely tied to a number of key business areas, including day-to-day operations, data security and privacy, regulatory compliance and electronic discovery. Initiatives under the information governance umbrella are linked by two goals: first, to maximize the value of company information; and second, to reduce risk associated with poor data management and storage. The discussion was wide-ranging and covered many of the key aspects of designing and implementing an information governance project.
The starting point, appropriately, was how to get started. Our consensus recommendation was to identify and solve an existing priority or challenge. Real-world examples given included centralized electronic filing of property leases and other contracts, digitizing old paper archives to make them accessible and searchable and creating a document control set with revision history tracking for manufacturing and building specifications. This led us into the use of document management systems and the important decisions required at the design stage regarding active file management by employees.
It was abundantly clear from our conversation that email continues to be one of the most significant issues for companies of all sizes and sectors. I recommended giving serious consideration to bringing in an email archiving software solution. The upfront costs and staff time from purchase and implementation, including locating and importing archived email stored outside the Exchange email system, are not negligible; however, they will almost certainly be outweighed by benefits such as effective document retention schedules, centralized searching and reduced electronic discovery costs.
Though not yet on everyone’s radar, mobile device management is a growing concern because of data security fears and the legal risks from not preserving text messages that may be subject to regulatory retention requirements or litigation holds. Several people also raised the issue of legacy and archived data. Because this is a category of information that is low value and high risk, it is an ideal target for an information governance project.
Outside my role as in-house counsel I also frequently encounter information governance issues as an electronic discovery consultant. The revision last year of the influential Electronic Discovery Reference Model to add Information Governance as the left-most step in the eDiscovery lifecycle reflects the widespread recognition that effective information governance is a crucial part of reining in discovery costs. Destroying low-value data before it has a chance to become subject to a preservation obligation cuts down on litigation-related costs and business disruption.
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