E-discovery: How to draft and implement an effective document retention policy

Save your company from mountains of data and crippling discovery costs

The Library of Congress might talk about its 235 terabytes of data, but some U.S. companies already have it beat—try petabytes, literally thousands of terabytes of data. If your company has more than 1,000 employees, you’re no doubt in the petabyte world. As the cost of servers and digital memory decreases, the amount of data created and stored by businesses increases at staggering rates.

Lots of data can mean only one thing when it comes to litigation: crippling discovery costs. One of the leading document review tools had a 100 percent increase in the number of documents hosted from 2010 to 2011, from fewer than 5 billion to nearly 10 billion. When faced with this explosion of electronic data, your first and best line of defense in limiting discovery costs is having a well-drafted document retention policy and following it to the letter.

Setting retention periods requires extensive discussions with senior management and employees of all levels to understand how and why certain records are used in the company. The policy must allow employees to keep the documents necessary to do their everyday jobs, while getting rid of superfluous documents and data. 

The hard part: Following through

Contributing Author

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Brian Esser

Brian Esser, associate at BakerHostetler LLP, focuses his practice on complex and general civil litigation and corporate investigations. He primarily works in the area of...

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Contributing Author

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Judy Selby

Judy Selby has more than 20 years of experience in large scale first- and third-party complex insurance coverage matters, providing a full range of services...

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