"Proceed With Caution When Deleting Data"

Good advice for paralegals, lawyers, & techies!

"As dependence on electronic communication has grown, lawyers and their clients have faced new and significant issues relating to preservation of electronic information.

"Electronically stored information is often recycled pursuant to a company's ordinary course of business, for example, through a computer system that automatically deletes e-mail older than 60 days unless archived; or through a document retrieval system that overwrites metadata (such as data about the history of the creation of a document) each time an electronic file is accessed. Once a duty to preserve evidence arises, companies must act to halt the deletion or loss of potentially relevant electronic data.

"Deletion of electronic data is a significant risk for companies, and may lead to spoliation claims. It is often unclear when the duty to preserve arises -- it can be difficult for a company to determine when litigation becomes reasonably foreseeable. And, in practice, suspending document retention policies or ordinary-course-of-business deletion policies for electronic data can raise significant headaches for a company, from halting its automatic processes to purchasing additional backup tapes to storing backup tapes that are no longer being recycled."

The great email debate: "To store or not to store..."

Where do you stand on this question? Read Experts Question 'Keep Everything' Philosophy & you might change sides!

"'If you keep everything, you are saying, in effect, that all information is created equal, which it isn't,'" says Julie Gable of Pennsylvania-based Gable Consulting, an independent consultant specializing in electronic records management issues.

"The solution is to establish a valid records retention program, part of which is a retention schedule based on the legal, regulatory and statutory needs [PDF link] that also addresses any business need for information beyond that timeframe. That may be more time-intensive today, and certainly more immediate trouble than 'just store it all somewhere.' But in the long run, a smart approach to record-keeping could save companies a fortune and possibly even assist in compliance matters. In fact, clear-cut policies on record expiration and deletion could save a ton of trouble down the line."

Do You Know NAID?

The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), is the nonprofit trade association for companies providing information destruction services. Its mission is "to educate business, industry and government of the importance of destroying discarded information and the value of contract destruction services."

Click links to find membership info, ethics statement, & NAID press releases....