"Combined with Interwoven WorkSite, the industry-leading document management solution, Interwoven Records Manager enables law firms to optimize their file room operations and bring together paper and electronic documents and e-mail under a uniform information retention policy. The solution is seamlessly integrated into the user's working practices, allowing professionals to participate and engage in the records process without sacrificing productivity.
"Frost Brown Todd (FBT) was formed through the 2000 merger of two premier regional law firms, a union that brought consistent rankings in The National Law Journal's NLJ 250 and the AmLaw 200 -- as well as introducing new information management challenges. In 2005, with its user population reaching 900 attorneys, paralegals, and staff, the firm grew concerned about its ability to effectively manage the documents in its possession.
"'Post merger our records management challenges were steep. We were reliant on a series of index cards, access databases and outside vendor databases for finding information. Our file rooms were spread across multiple offices and floors, which made it very challenging to track our files. Each site was handling records differently. Our need for space and better organization led us to search for a long term solution for managing both paper and electronic records,' said Paul Bromwell, CIO at Frost Brown Todd."
"Attorney and e-discovery expert Tom O'Connor, with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Legal Electronic Document Institute, says that judges in the cases he consults on are ordering e-discovery and computer-forensics investigation much more frequently than ever before. O'Connor is seeing the effect of this change on all kinds of cases.
"For civil domestic cases such as divorce proceedings, there's an enormous amount of forensics investigation occurring. O'Connor says that PCs are being examined to prove or refute claims by one spouse that the other has been engaging in extramarital affairs or hiding financial assets. Forensics experts are trained to search for e-mail exchanges in which the parties are setting dates and carrying on other communications. They can also:
- Uncover questionable online purchases;
- Track credit-card transactions; and
- Detect whether credit cards unknown to one spouse are being used to make illicit purchases.
"Stephanie Simons Neal, litigation-support [PDF] project manager in the New York office of Weil Gotshal & Manges, attests to the burgeoning need for forensics expertise at her firm. Simons Neal's caseload consists of a number of patent cases, along with other corporate-litigation matters.
"'We've definitely noticed an increase in request for forensics, as well as requests for review and production of documents in native form as opposed to paper,' she says, adding that while the requests continue to come in, the expertise to meet those requests is lacking and there is a growing 'disconnect' between what cases actually require and what the law firms are equipped to provide.
"Trial attorney and certified computer forensic examiner Craig Ball of Austin, TX, has seen a marked increase in the use of forensically qualified imaging to preserve data prior to litigation rather than in reaction to it."
NOTE: This article also says: "Computer forensics is still a young science that's being shaped by the electronic-discovery rules as they continue to evolve and change. This expanding industry simultaneously presents huge opportunities and great responsibility."
So, you think those embarrassing emails sent to the computer's trash can are truly deleted, right? Uh, no:
"The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating whether the White House or the Republican National Committee erased 'a large volume of e-mails' that may be related to the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
"Deleting a document or e-mail doesn't remove the file from a computer's hard drive or a backup server. The only thing that's erased is the address - known as a 'pointer' - indicating where the file is stored.
"It's like 'removing an index card in a library,' said Robert Guinaugh, a senior partner at CyberControls LLC, a data forensic-support company in Barrington, Ill. 'You take the card out, but the book is still on the shelf.'"
"Simplicity. This was the guiding principle in our selection of a document-imaging system. In early 2005, Indianapolis-based Ice Miller was overrun with paper. With 225 attorneys, and three branch offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Naperville, Ill., we decided to leverage the decision to change our office copiers as an opportunity to gain more control over our workflow.
"We needed a document-imaging system that our attorneys and other professionals could use with little or no training. We wanted our users to be able to walk up to a copier and scan documents directly to a PC desktop or to software, such as Microsoft's Word and Outlook, or Hummingbird Enterprise. We wanted a simple system so our users could copy without calling the IT help desk.
"But simplicity didn't mean we wanted a simplistic application. We did not want to scan documents only to have them scatter, unindexed, inside our IT network. All that would do is transfer our document handling difficulties from unstructured paper to unstructured electronic data. Rather, we wanted a program that integrated with our existing software (Hummingbird Enterprise, Captaris Inc.'s RightFax, Word and Outlook) and would improve our office efficiencies."
The full article is a must-read for those interested in expanding their roles into firm management...
Yay! Having several methods for cutting the costs of litigation is good news indeed:
"Smoking-gun documents and emails have been at the heart of the world's best known corporate legal battles, but the risks of information in litigation have suddenly grown with new U.S. Federal guidelines for e-discovery. How can companies get a handle on the exploding volume of online content to better address the costs and risks of litigation? Open Text Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), a leading provider of software that helps companies manage their growing stores of emails and documents, today released a list of five key technology strategies for litigation and e-discovery readiness that can help companies be as prepared in the courtroom as in the boardroom.
"Open Text Executive Vice President Bill Forquer [scroll down for bio] sees some advantages in the new rules. 'Certainly, there are new risks and new challenges but the amendments add clarity. They create a sense of urgency and a mandate for companies to have good information management practices in their organizations.'
"According to Forquer, these five key strategies can make all the difference:
"Define defensible policies: Map the governing regulations and internal requirements to the process of identifying what email or document constitutes a record. What is and isn't a record? How long should a record be kept or how long must it be kept? Does it need to be stored on a specific media? Kept in a specific location? Do your policies take into account metadata associated with records?"
Above is just one of the five outlined....
"While no one course of action is appropriate for all corporations, there are some basic steps to prepare for that first e-discovery challenge, none of which guarantee success. On the other hand, failure to recognize the challenges of complying with the e-discovery rules is more likely to lead to disaster.
"Here are a few thoughts on recommended survival tactics to maneuver through the e-discovery minefield.
1. Update and enforce your records management policy.
"Prudence and good corporate management dictate that every business should have a records management policy [PDF]. Such a policy informs employees about the documents they are required to keep as a matter of law or regulation or business necessity. It establishes procedures for the maintenance of records, and equally important, it outlines when records may permissibly be destroyed either because the legal retention period has expired or the business necessity no longer exists."
Authors Art Smith and Jeanine Bermel are members of the Dispute Resolution Practice Group at Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis and regularly advise their corporate clients on issues relating to electronic discovery.
Why am I not surprised to read this: "[T]he challenge was getting lawyers to adapt."
"The exponential growth of e-mail for client-related exchanges has increased the potential for knowledge management and records management breakdowns. Today's information is spread out in personal inboxes that can't be easily accessed, leveraged, protected and properly stored. When e-mail that should be part of the client/matter file sits in an e-mail inbox -- an unmanaged repository -- chances are that the knowledge contained in the e-mail may never be harnessed or, worse yet, could be lost or deleted. Content that constitutes a record may never be properly declared as a record.
"Allowing e-mail to reside in attorney inboxes is a huge client service and risk management issue. E-mail systems are not storage tools; they were not designed as large capacity repositories. There are significant costs associated with maintaining large collections of e-mail data live, as well as resource expenditures spent searching through volumes of uncoded data (e.g., in response to a discovery request).
"At Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman our biggest hotspot is ensuring complete documentation and preservation for each matter. Indeed, two of the biggest risk culprits we faced were e-mail inboxes, and inbound and outbound lateral attorneys. PW has 900 lawyers in 15 locations, and we have particular expertise in capital markets, energy and technology. In June 2004, our 26-member professional responsibility committee, lead by Ronald Van Buskirk, recognized the importance of getting e-mail out of inboxes and into a managed system. So we established an electronic file subcommittee, comprised of five partners and three executives from the operations group, the IT group and the records department."
Very helpful description of the new email system & training are provided in the body of this article by Tanya Garig, conflicts, new business, & firmwide records manager at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, based in San Francisco.