Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram

“The firm gets personally involved with their clients and their work to achieve the most successful outcomes.”

Robert G. Hisaoka – President, RRR, LLC

THOUGHTS ON DEVELOPING IN-HOUSE E-DISCOVERY PREPARATION PROCEDURES

The rising increase in the data volumes which comprise electronically stored information (ESI) in the context of legal discovery have greatly affected companies that often find themselves in litigation.  While these companies continue to grow the size of their in-house legal departments to manage the litigation, the costs and risks associated with electronic discovery can still overwhelm the most robust in-house teams. 

As business owners and company executives become increasingly aware of the many pitfalls connected with E-Discovery, the value of bringing some facet of the E-Discovery process in-house as part of a document management and/or litigation preparedness plan becomes more obvious.  This is not just a solution for large corporations either, more and more small to mid-sized companies, with a limited or no legal budget at all, are seeing the value of treating “ESI Counsel” as a carve-out field of legal expertise in order to create an efficient and consistent approach to E-Discovery across all current and potential legal matters.

The goal of developing the in-house E-Discovery program or procedure is to manage your company’s electronic data as part of the everyday course of your business’s practice. It does not take much to prepare for E-Discovery.  In my experience, I have seen clients and companies on the opposing side of cases with varying degrees of E-Discovery preparation – from those with fully developed litigation hold and discovery response procedures, to those with no processes or systems in place at all.  Often while working through the options and costs associated with E-discovery obligations, a client will comment, “Remind me when this is over that we need to do something about our emails and data before we get hit with another case.”  The truth is that for a fraction of the cost of having comply, from scratch, with a case’s E-discovery obligations, many companies could have prepared proactively by developing a Litigation Readiness Plan, Document Retention Policy and/or by cleaning up their information via Electronic Data Management software.

Most companies with which I deal find the task of bringing aspects of the E-Discovery process in-house extremely daunting and overwhelming.  Most just do not know where to start.  The following are some of my thoughts to keep in mind as you consider developing in-house E-Discovery response protocols:

1.    Figure out your company’s litigation profile.  This will help determine the level of E-Discovery response required for the unique organization and culture of your company.  ESI Counsel and other E-Consultants specialize in ascertaining a company's data management needs, and can help institute suitable solutions.

2.    Every aspect of the E-Discovery process does not have to be done in-house.  Some basic E-Discovery related business processes could be implemented by you, outside “ESI Counsel” or service providers, which will help your company react quickly and save money in the face of legal discovery obligations.

3.    Start with a document retention and routine destruction process, then research and eventually build in some electronic document management technology around your plan.

4.    Use your resources.  There are plenty of outside resources in the electronic discovery field, including legal counsel, at your disposal to assist with establishing and implementing your plan.  In addition to ESI Counsel, there are consultants, blogs and educational programs that will have experience and ideas to help you.

Did You Know . . .

Members of the SLS trial group have tried in excess of 50 jury trials and 75 bench trials?

The SLS construction group has worked on sports stadiums across the country including Orioles Park in Baltimore and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati?

The SLS construction group has worked on power plant projects across the country?

In 2007 SLS was selected for an Honorable Mention as one of the Best Places To Work in Washington DC?

Ron Shapiro, Steve Schram and Judd Lifschitz have all been selected as SuperLawyers by Law and Politics?

The SLS office building is an historic townhouse constructed in the late 1800s?

SLS has been selected by Martindale-Hubbell as a Preeminent Law Firm?

SLS trial lawyers have argued appeals in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 5th, 9th, D.C. and Federal Circuit?

SLS trial lawyers have been lead trial counsel in cases in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia, - to name just a few?

Virtually all the cases that SLS trial lawyers mediated have been favorably settled at mediation?

The transactional group at SLS was lead counsel on one of the largest, most complex mixed-use projects in downtown Washington, DC involving 4 lenders and 6 property owners?

In appreciation for the outstanding efforts of each of its employees during 2007, SLS gave everyone (attorneys, paralegals, and staff) a 4 day/3 night expense paid trip to Key West, Florida?

The transactional group at SLS has represented tenants in more than 200 retail leases in the Mid-Atlantic region?

Every attorney in the transactional group at SLS has at least 15 years experience?

The transactional group at SLS has represented developers in the purchase, construction, financing and/or sale of more than 75 multi-family apartment projects?

The transactional group at SLS has represented real estate investors and developers with respect to property in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan and the U.S. Virginia Islands?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented eight national banks in commercial real estate loans?

Attorneys in the transactional group at SLS have represented the FDIC, the Resolution Trust Corporation and several banking institutions in loan workout transactions throughout the Mid-Atlantic region?

The transactional group at SLS has represented homebuilders and commercial real estate developers in work-outs of individual loans and also for work-outs of large portfolios involving dozens of properties in several states?

The trial lawyers of SLS have numerous reported decisions to their credit?