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Discovering E-Discovery

Electronic discovery, or e-discovery, has activated the latest fear campaign by storage suppliers. For them, the subject could fuel legions of product and service sales. But how seriously should IT managers take their claims?

Is the legal sky really falling? Consider some evidence, if you will. Legal experts say there's a definite increase in the amount of litigation in which companies worldwide are engaged. An annual survey of corporations recently conducted by international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, for instance, revealed that 70 percent of 455 respondents from a range of U.S. and U.K. corporations reported their firms had filed at least one lawsuit or arbitration motion within the last year. On average, U.S. companies with annual sales of $1 billion or more are engaged in 556 open legal cases, with about 50 new suits added yearly.

The same survey results show regulatory compliance plays a big role in the growing volume of corporate litigation, both in Europe and the U.S. Twenty-one percent of U.S. companies surveyed and 40 percent of respondents in the U.K. reported an increase in regulatory legal activity at their companies.

Indeed, the wider record shows that regulatory violations not only log lots of corporate counsel time, but also account for a growing tally of fines and corporate humiliations. (See Regulators Rip Records Managers.)

Despite all this, the Fulbright & Jaworski survey showed that just 19 percent of all respondents believe they are "well prepared" to handle upcoming e-discovery challenges. Over half the respondents reported they were "somewhat prepared."

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