Organizations are increasingly seeing the benefits of automating their litigation hold processes. According to software provider Zapproved’s “2014 Legal Hold and Data Preservation Benchmark Survey,” 44% of organizations have automated their legal hold process, compared to the 34% who reported they had last year.
Survey respondents also reported higher confidence their ability to defend their data preservation processes. In fact, 70% of automated users were “satisfied” to “very satisfied” with their litigation hold processes, while only 35% of manual users selected those same categories.
Zapproved predicts that at this rate, the majority of all legal data preservation will be automated by 2015. This is especially relevant given that it has become common practice in commercial litigation for opposing sides to challenge each other’s preservation efforts, noted Brad Harris, vice president of legal products for Zapproved. Almost one-third (31%) of the survey respondents had to defend their preservation practices this year, up from 22% last year.
The number of litigation holds issued per month is also on the rise. The “Power Preservers” category identified by the survey – those organizations that issue six or more holds a month – jumped 30% from last year. Predictably, this group is more likely to be using an automated system given the benefits of streamlined processes and higher return on investment. Still, only 60% of power preservers are automated.
One area that continues to be of concern is employee training. While 64% of the respondents reported they train employees, fewer than half said employees are “tuned into their obligations.”
Harris concluded the report by offering four steps organizations can take to improve their processes:
- Audit current preservation processes to measure their effectiveness and whether they meet the threshold of current legal standards.
- Prepare to defend preservation. The goals should include process consistency, maintaining a detailed audit trail, and identifying potential points of failure.
- Emphasize training and a culture of compliance.
- Educate yourself continuously – this is a fast-moving area of the law.
ARMA International would further point out that these steps assume you have an effective legal hold policy and process already in place. Whether you are auditing an existing process or putting a new policy and process in place, you will find the following resources of use: