Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Document Retention Tips

Reduce Your Costs Now and In Possible Litigation

Technology has made it easier and easier to store incredible amounts of information indefinitely, with instant online backups and seemingly endless storage capacities.  With all of this added data comes the risk of enormous costs to review and produce documents if a lawsuit should ever arise.  In litigation, parties typically request and often obtain a wide range of documents, including years of financial records, emails, and other files, in both paper and electronic form.  Companies with years of backup tapes are often shocked to learn the costs just to restore those tapes – before even reviewing them – could be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

The need to maintain key company documents has to be balanced against costs of storage, review, and production, as well as the possible harm in a lawsuit.  The time to act is before any litigation is imminent, because the obligation to preserve all potentially relevant documents prevents any file deletion once a dispute arises. 

Companies use many techniques to reduce their information overload:  automatically deleting emails after a certain time, limiting the storage capacity for each employee, requiring regular review and destruction of outdated files, and others.  There is no single approach that works for every firm, so managers, I.T. staff, and counsel should work together to tailor the best solution.

Your lawyer should review your company’s technology and backup policies to ensure that the company keeps what it really needs for business and compliance purposes and then filters out the rest.  Doing so can save a great deal in storage costs now and potentially much more in litigation costs and headaches later on.

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