With companies increasingly relying on digital platforms, the volume of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) has increased dramatically. This can result in inefficient data management.
Hence, legal departments use eDiscovery tools to manage large-scale data efficiently. eDiscovery refers to the search for and retrieval of relevant data from ESI. These include sources such as emails, documents, social media, instant messages and more.
Although eDiscovery has become an integral part of legal proceedings, legal departments face significant challenges. Such as:
- The exponential growth of electronic data makes it difficult to manage and review the vast volumes of ESI created.
- Protecting sensitive and privileged information during the eDiscovery process to maintain client confidentiality.
- Processes can be time-consuming and expensive especially with manual reviewing of large datasets.
- Data storage in various locations and formats complicates the identification and data collection in the eDiscovery process.
- Identifying relevant data from a massive dataset requires high filtering capabilities.
To address these complexities, legal teams can turn to Information Governance.
Understanding Information Governance
Information Governance (IG) refers to the strategic management of data assets. It aims to establish a mechanism for ensuring compliance, maintaining data hygiene, and reducing storage costs. A well-implemented IG framework can help legal departments by:
- Providing a systematic approach to categorizing data based on its sensitivity and importance.
- Establishing guidelines for data retention and disposal. This allows a department to retain data for the required duration and then dispose of it when the data is no longer legally needed.
- Incorporating data security measures against unauthorized access, breaches, and cyber threats.
- Complying with legal and regulatory requirements related to data privacy and data protection.
- Clarifying data ownership responsibilities.
- Ensuring accountability for data management and protection.
- Creating audit trails to track potential security incidents or policy violations.
- Facilitating data archiving to retain historical data for legal, regulatory, or business purposes.
How to Transform the eDiscovery Process
IG can play a significant role in the eDiscovery process:
Efficient Data Identification
IG enables legal teams to efficiently identify and collect relevant data for eDiscovery, by implementing simple yet effective data classifications it allows you to:
- Quickly pinpoint the most critical information.
- Run searches and then retrieve all relevant documents across various data sources.
- Eliminate the need for manual data retrieval.
- Save time and effort during the initial stages of eDiscovery.
Reduced Data Redundancy
IG helps in reducing data redundancy and minimizing storage costs by:
- Establishing data retention policies.
- Defining data lifecycle management.
- Identifying and eliminating exact duplicate data.
- Streamlining data processing.
- Optimizing storage resources.
Streamlining Data Preservation Policies in eDiscovery
Data preservation is a strategic approach that ensures the protection and accessibility of data throughout its lifecycle. With data preservation, IG ensures the integrity of potentially relevant data. For example, a company is facing litigation due to a defective product. Here, IG can:
- Identify and isolate all relevant data associated with the product.
- Place it under legal hold to avoid any alteration or deletion.
- Ensures data integrity and accessibility for legal review and analysis.
Enhanced Data Security and Compliance
Legal departments deal with vast amounts of sensitive and confidential data during any eDiscovery process. These include Personally Identifiable Information (PII), financial records, and intellectual property. Holistic IG platforms like Knovos GRC play a vital role in ensuring data security and compliance through:
- Data encryption, both during transit and storage
- Implementing strict access controls.
- Audit logs to provide a comprehensive trail of data access, modification, and sharing.
Automated Data Processing and Review
Leveraging advanced technology tools can automate data processing and review. Data analytics and machine learning can expedite the review and analysis of collected ESI.
Automated processes such as data culling and filtering can:
- Eliminate exact duplicate documents.
- Remove irrelevant data.
- Reduce the volume of data for review.
Machine learning algorithms can be implemented to prioritize and categorize documents based on relevance. Technology-Assisted Review (TAR) quickly ranks documents for review. This reduces the manual effort during the review stage and helps to speed up the eDiscovery process.
Effective Risk Management
IG facilitates effective risk management by:
- Adhering to data privacy regulations to avoid potential penalties and reputational damage.
- Conducting risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities in data management practices.
- Setting up a predefined incident response plan.
- Conducting forensic analysis to determine the extent of any breaches.
Tackling Information Governance is no longer an option but is a necessity for legal departments. As data becomes abundant, legal departments can experience benefits beyond typical cost savings with IG platforms like Knovos GRC.
We should be embracing the complexities of eDiscovery, welcoming the technology available and thriving with confidence throughout the eDiscovery process.
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