The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of employees working from home, which has had an impact on the field of eDiscovery. One of the main effects is that companies may have a harder time collecting and preserving electronically stored information (ESI) that is located on employees’ personal devices or home computers. This can make it more difficult to locate relevant ESI in response to a discovery request. Additionally, companies may also need to review a larger volume of ESI, as employees may generate more data when working remotely. This can make the eDiscovery process more time-consuming and costly.
There are a few things that employers can do to make it easier to collect electronic evidence and protect important data when employees are working remotely:
1. Implement remote data collection tools: Employers can use tools such as remote access software, data extraction software, or forensic imaging software to collect data from employees’ personal devices or home computers.
2. Develop and enforce remote data retention policies: Employers can create policies that outline the types of data that employees are expected to retain, how long data should be retained, and how data should be stored. This can help ensure that relevant ESI is not accidentally deleted or lost.
3. Provide training on data preservation: Employers can educate employees on their legal obligations to preserve relevant ESI and the importance of protecting data from alteration or deletion.
4. Establish a process for collecting and preserving employee-generated data: Employers can create a standard process for collecting and preserving data from employees’ home computers or personal devices. This process should be clear and easy for employees to follow.
5. Invest in cloud-based solutions: Employers can invest in cloud-based solutions like G-suite, Office365, etc. this will keep the data centralized and easy to locate, also there’s some cloud-based eDiscovery platforms that will help the employer on the process.
6. Regular IT Audits: Employers can conduct regular IT audits to ensure compliance with company policies and to identify potential data risks. Regular audits are a must and should be visible so employees fully understand their workflow and data protection is being monitored. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Implementing these strategies can help employers more effectively collect, preserve and review electronic evidence even when employees are working remotely. However, that is not enough to protect companies’ intellectual property, work product and client base.
Retaining a professional services firm for eDiscovery is the most important step you can take because it can help companies navigate the complexities of the eDiscovery process and ensure compliance with legal requirements. These firms have specialized expertise in identifying and collecting relevant ESI, and they can help companies navigate the legal landscape related to eDiscovery. Their examiners and agents often have decades of experience dealing with complex data protection and retention issues and know all the pitfalls to watch out for and defend against. Just because you have an IT department does not mean you are properly set up to navigate work-from-home data security issues.
Some benefits of having a professional services firm on retainer for eDiscovery include:
1. Experience and expertise: Professional services firms have the knowledge and experience to efficiently and effectively manage the eDiscovery process, which can help to minimize the costs and risks associated with eDiscovery.
2. Access to the latest technology: Professional services firms have access to the latest eDiscovery tools and technologies which can help to speed up the data collection and review process.
3. Compliance with legal requirements: These firms are familiar with the latest legal requirements and standards related to eDiscovery, which can help companies to minimize their risk of non-compliance and potential penalties.
4. Cost-effective: Using a professional services firm can be more cost-effective than building an in-house eDiscovery team, as it eliminates the need for companies to invest in expensive equipment and software and for hiring staff.
5. Provide Scalability and Flexibility: The pandemics situation shows us how unpredictable the business environment is and working with a professional firm allows us to adjust the level of services depending on the needs. Most professional firms will offer both pre-paid and post-paid retainers. A pre-paid retainer is one where you commit to handling a certain amount of work over the duration of the retainer period. A post-paid retainer is often used in the IT field when there is not an immediate need for services. This option gives you access to the specialized knowledge of the firm as well as the flexibility to handle situations quickly as they arise. Time is everything when dealing with a data breach or ESI.
Having a professional services firm on retainer for eDiscovery can provide companies with a valuable resource for managing the eDiscovery process and ensuring compliance with legal requirements. It can also minimize the risks and costs associated with eDiscovery. The peace of mind that comes from knowing help is only a phone call away is priceless. SUMURI Professional Services can help.