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Ease The Pain Of E-Discovery

When the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight was subpoenaed for documents in litigation involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, its IT department thought it had searched every cranny to find relevant e-mails. It turned out the agency overlooked disaster-recovery backups that were stored off-site.

That oversight triggered a legal fight and then a protracted search that resulted in a $6 million discovery bill--a whopping 9% of the office's annual budget.

When it comes to e-discovery costs, $6 million isn't an outlier, which points to the urgency of IT and legal departments working hand in hand to build policies and execute on them when litigation hits. At times, however, IT and legal work at cross-purposes--they don't communicate or, worse, argue over the best approach to collecting electronically stored information that's being called for, often on short notice.

To avoid these squabbles and the mistakes that come out of them, smart companies are creating e-discovery teams led by legal and IT principals, with other stakeholders in the organization brought in as needed. These teams set policies for data retention and preservation, oversee implementation of these policies, and handle e-discovery work related to specific legal cases. We'll look at what three companies--in insurance, telecom, and construction--are doing to make e-discovery the team sport it must be.

Team Leaders
One key component to the smooth operation of these teams is a liaison who coordinates the technical and legal requirements of discovery efforts. In some cases, this liaison may be a tech-savvy paralegal or attorney, but often it's an IT pro.

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