Going for Information Governance Gold – Closing the Gap on Discovery Materials

An increasing number of firms are deploying formal Information Governance (IG) programs.  These programs start with an approved records policy (with retention schedules), and then look to align user behavior with the firm’s use of supporting systems.  Mattern sees firms falling along a broad spectrum of adoption, from those firms trying to address legacy off-site physical records holdings, to firms attempting to tackle management of all information regardless of location or format (including electronic retention). 

However, even for those firms addressing electronic information within email, network shares, and Document Management Systems (DMS), many still overlook client discovery materials in both firm and vendor-hosted systems.  This may take the form of modern Relativity databases, or of legacy Summation and Concordance repositories that contain evidentiary materials coupled with attorney work product.  These “information silos” are a loose-end that need to be cleaned up as part of the firm’s overall data mapping and disposition process.

Not having an IG program is no longer an option.  Sometimes we see the firm has a “draft” records policy that has never been officially deployed.  One of the biggest reasons – the firm realized it lacked the necessary visibility into its information assets that would allow for compliant disposition.  In other words, they had no way of ensuring they could execute on their own document handling policy.  The optics of non-compliance were perceived as less favorable than no policy at all, and thus everything grinded to a halt.  However, firms are recognizing that this is no longer a viable strategy.  Client scrutiny as part of the engagement process, the buzz around cybersecurity and data breach, and the ability to leverage existing firm knowledge for business needs mandates a defensible program that ensures the necessary visibility and security of information.

Read the full article in ILTA's 2019 White Papers.