By Dan Fischler
Legal holds, or litigation holds, are an essential and unavoidable component of corporate law that many legal professionals consider a make-or-break part of a case. Even though a legal hold may sound fairly simple, it can be a complicated process with many moving parts. A consistent and documented strategy reduces the likelihood of your legal hold process being questioned in court. The last thing your organization wants is to lose on a technical error that could have been prevented. That’s why we’re outlining how to achieve a successful legal hold process every time.
What is a legal hold?
Let’s start with the basics. A legal hold is a notification a legal team sends to its employees, requesting the preservation of documents. The hold asks them not to delete electronically stored information (ESI), as well as not to dispose of hard copy documents that could contain relevant information to a new legal case the company is pursuing.
Typically, the responsibility of managing legal hold obligations falls to paralegals and eDiscovery managers. These legal professionals fill an important role. Their duty to preserve ESI begins as soon as a party anticipates litigation, or when litigation commences.
Avoiding Common Errors of the Legal Hold Process
Conducting a thorough legal hold process has become standard practice, so the obligation to fulfill preservation duties is serious. With the risk of facing court-imposed sanctions or angering your judge if the process is not thorough, it is best practice to be mindful of your duty to perceive the timeline. Having a bullet-proof hold process is the key to not giving your opponents an easy win.
The simplest way to avoid these consequences is to not delay sending legal hold notices.
Once hold notifications are sent the legal hold process still has its own set of challenges, but being aware of potential issues in advance can help you develop better strategies. Some of the most common problems that come up with legal holds are poor compliance, poor reporting, and redundant efforts.
For the legal professionals who work on the process, the goal is to properly handle and preserve the data that your custodians provide. The preservation process involves active collaboration between custodians, legal counsel, and IT staff. It can be time-consuming, but it’s important to request documents from all the relevant data sources, including emails, shared drives, databases, text messages, etc.
Communication is Key
The idea behind the process is to collect all relevant information that may contribute to defensibility in a new legal case. Conducting proper legal holds also helps avoid the perception of spoliation, or tampering with evidence. That’s why it’s important to treat ESI seriously by maintaining a consistent line of communication throughout the process of collecting data.
Incorporating practices like sending reminders and asking for confirmation from custodians is essential for data preservation. Don’t forget that consistent communication between the legal professionals conducting the hold is also crucial, as it helps to avoid redundant efforts.
Having clear guidelines that are communicated to everyone prevents a lot of unnecessary hassles for your organization. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time, so creating and implement an easily repeatable process is the key to successful legal holds.
Legal Hold Software Makes a Difference
All things considered, just any old legal hold software won’t do. With all the choices on the market, choosing the right legal hold solution can be daunting. That’s why we cut through the noise to highlight the most important factors you should observe when choosing legal hold software.
SaaS eDiscovery providers come in many forms, but when it comes to legal holds, an all-in-one eDiscovery solution is the more economical and efficient choice, as opposed to a legal hold-specific product. Legal departments benefit from a platform that allows data centralization on a single platform. Instead of budgeting the expenses for subscriptions to multiple services, Reveal has everything you need for one flat pice.
Reveal provides integration with legal hold software features that fill the needs of legal departments and law firms. An all-in-one eDiscovery platform automates the components of the legal hold process, with features like data preservation, data analysis, compliance management, and document indexing that streamline the legal hold process through one eDiscovery software. Reveal has integrated many eDiscovery functions, but is always developing more ways to make the process more efficient, so more integration can be expected in the future.
Ease of use is a critical factor when searching for the right legal hold software. The legal hold process can already be a lengthy, complicated process, so it is important to minimize the time and frustration involved. Reveal values the usability of an eDiscovery platform, implementing functions that are user-friendly and designed to make the work of eDiscovery professionals easier. Reveal also makes the process easier by offering the option to have cloud-based eDiscovery.
When onboarding a new eDiscovery solution, you want the process to be as painless as possible and Reveal has a history of reliable, 24/7 customer support during this process. During this time when many legal professionals are adjusting to remote work, easy access to customer support is essential for legal hold software.
Despite the challenges of legal holds, they don’t have to be an exasperating process for legal teams. With a tried and true set of rules and guidelines in your tool belt, as well as an efficient eDiscovery software at your fingertips, a successful legal hold process is attainable 100% of the time.
If your organization is interested in leveraging a single eDiscovery software solution to help make your legal hold process more efficient, request a demo to learn more about what Reveal can do.