The Legal Hold

May 3, 2018

By Dennis Amorosano, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Canon Information & Imaging Solutions

It’s lurking in the hallowed halls and hidden corridors of your organization just waiting to rear its ugly head. At first glance it’s often innocuous; unassuming. Disguised as a simple request, most don’t give it a thought. However, its tentacles run deep and it can suck the life out of its victims before they realize they are entrapped in its snare. For those of you who have survived its wrath (there are few) you know it’s the Legal Hold.

Before I knew of the monster we now call the Legal Hold I was quite content with the manner in which I and my organization managed information. I was initially introduced to this heathen by my legal department. We need your assistance they said. Always happy to oblige I responded with an enthusiastic “sure, what can I do”! Word of advice, when asked by your legal team for assistance the answer is always “sorry, I’d like to help but I’m headed to Mars and won’t be back for a few years”.

Our legal team was so happy to hear I was willing to assist. I guess I wasn’t the first one asked but was the one with “sucker” stamped clearly on my forehead. This then led to an explanation of the Legal Hold. What is a Legal Hold you ask? For those of you not familiar with the monster it is basically a request to hold and maintain all documents and information, regardless of their form (paper or electronic) related to a legal case.

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? I didn’t think so either, which is why I happily indicated to my legal colleagues that they could contact me as needed. I then began the task of compiling the information they requested.

This is when you meet the monster for the first time!

Every Legal Hold, no matter how small, is a monster that has the potential to terrorize an organization. This is especially true for organizations that have limited controls on how information is stored and managed, which includes most companies. While the requirement to identify and maintain information from destruction at face value is not difficult, try finding and policing the information when it sits on individual hard disks, thumb drives, network shares, cloud services, filing cabinets, cell phones, network storage arrays, and in long term file storage.

Getting the picture?

The first time you actually go through a Legal Hold you come to the realization that the monster is going to eat your lunch followed by eating you! The monster known as the Legal Hold is a time and resource eating machine.

Have some things you needed to get done in your day job? Forget that! You and the 80 other people in your organization are now going to spend your time finding, organizing and managing all the content you need to feed the monster. So much for productivity.

The statistics are daunting. Based upon information from Rand and FTI Consulting, it is estimated that the average cost to companies during an e-discovery case is $1.8 million and $18,000 to review 10GB of data, much of it trapped in email. And with the continued increase in litigation, if you haven’t yet met the monster, you probably will.

As indicated, finding content that is the subject of a Legal Hold can be daunting. In most companies, information is siloed and scattered across the enterprise. Most information is also unstructured, especially email, which can account for as much as 40% of all corporate information, 80+ percent of which is not structured.

So how can you avoid being consumed by the beast?

Start with a plan. It likely took you a while to achieve your current state of being, so don’t expect you’re going to fix it overnight. By working with a trusted partner you can develop a plan that can address your current scattered content, bring it into an organized structure, establish the right policies based on content types and set appropriate access rights. Beginning with one or more departments is typically a good way to start. Once these groups are operating effectively then you can scale.

Not sure what technology to use? There are many to choose from, however, Box is generally a good fit. As a Cloud Content Management platform, it doesn’t require any infrastructure on your end to install or manage, it’s simple to use and in addition to storing and managing content, it’s a great collaboration tool; even for collaborating and sharing content outside your company. Since it’s licensed by the user, it’s easy to scale when you’re ready.

So now you’ve organized your content, have policies for content tagging and expiration, and have set sharing rules and access controls. Congratulations, you’re done!

Not so fast, what about email? As I said, it’s about 40% of all your content. It’s also a mess, taking up so much storage, difficult to search, replicating the same attachment every time you send something to multiple people and giving you no security once leaving your server. You can’t ignore email, can you?

You can, of course, but the monster will certainly laugh as it devours your time. So what to do?

One of the best solutions for managing email is mxHero. With the capability to sit in the background and automatically capture email messages and their attachments and directly save to appropriate storage locations within Box and other Cloud Content Management systems, mxHero is one of the more elegant solutions available. And with its combined capabilities with Box, it offers customers an easy way to drive compliance and slay (I mean tame – you can’t kill this monster) the monster known as the Legal Hold.

The combination of Box and mxHero is a great antidote for the ravenous monster. Implemented correctly, the combination can take the process of complying with a Legal Hold from days, weeks or months to minutes. This benefit alone is worth the price of admission, but when you consider the other benefits including reducing storage costs, lessening email management, securing information and a more efficient workforce you won’t be too frightened when your legal team asks for help.

To learn more about improving information governance and managing email content in Legal, watch our on-demand webinar – register at http://reach.ciis.canon.com/mxHero.