E-Discovery: The stormy nature of the cloud

Working with IT departments to prepare for cloud-based e-discovery

There is little argument that cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms have created a paradigm shift in enterprise technology and IT as a whole. Companies of all sizes—public and private—seeking to reduce storage costs and improve overall efficiency and integration with partners are increasingly turning to the cloud to house information and run essential business functions remotely.

Accordingly for legal professionals, these questions loom:

Outsourcing to SaaS-based technology in the cloud typically begins with a directive in the IT department to cut software license fees, storage costs and management overhead, but rarely includes the input of legal or consideration of legal e-discovery. This is when the volume of data being stored in the cloud becomes an extreme burden. Downloading hundreds upon hundreds of gigabytes of data from remote servers can be very time consuming. Depending on the litigation, you may have to perform multiple collections to ensure a complete collection due to timing issues.

The ideal solution would be to place select data on hold and only collect the data being held. The next best solution would be to conservatively hold broader categories of data and only collect data imminently needed for e-discovery. However, placing a legal hold on data stored in the cloud is challenging as there are no turn-key solutions to implement and manage this process. Some providers are working on integrating these features into their hosted solutions for email, but the execution and management is extremely cumbersome and an all or nothing solution implemented on an entire mailbox. Additionally, collecting data from the cloud can present new technology challenges. The IT department that used to be able to run scripts or other backend processes to collect data may find no such options are available with data stored in the cloud. Many times this process is developed during the heat of litigation, which increases the likelihood of mistakes and potential sanctions or adverse inference instructions.

Managing Director

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David Meadows

David W. Meadows is managing director for Kroll Ontrack Discovery Consulting. He directs and oversees teams of consultants who advise corporate and law firm clients...

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