February 28, 2009

Industry Blurb Follow Up: Symantec Discovery Attorney Annie Goranson

by Cary J. Calderone, Esquire

Last summer I commended the move by Symantec Corporation to create a Discovery Attorney position in their Enterprise Vault applications group (See, Smart Move by Symantec). From my own personal experience, the often used phrase, “bridging the gap” does not adequately describe the lack of understanding between the Legal and Information Technology departments. In many organizations, the “gap” looks more like the Grand Canyon. After applauding the fact that Symantec recognized that someone with a legal perspective, Annie Goranson, could be a useful addition to a technology team, I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss some real world experiences with her. After all, she has now served in the position of Discovery Attorney for approximately eight months and indicated she was ready to describe some of her findings, both good and bad, learned from her attempts to help bridge the gap between Legal and IT.

Calderone: Why was the position of Discovery Attorney created? Goranson: It was determined that there was a need to add an electronic discovery educational resource on the sales side to better explain general legal issues around email archiving and the e-discovery process. In the past, before e-discovery was the driving force, sales was driven by IT and Legal was out of the loop. Now that has changed. Legal may be the driving force for the sale, and legal compliance is a critical component to satisfying the customer with their implementation of Enterprise Vault.

Calderone: What interested you in the position? Goranson: I thought it would be fun to help customers understand the bigger issues and the different ways they might accomplish their goals with Enterprise Vault. I also wanted to help the sales team understand some of the bigger legal issues as well.

Calderone: Any general comments on what you learned working with customers? Goranson: While they often ask about “Best Practices” around legal compliance, in reality there is a huge range of sophistication in the way technology is used and employed from customer to customer. This depends on how the legal department is structured and the frequency with which it is involved in litigation or investigatory matters.

Calderone: What surprised you the most in dealing with customers? Goranson: Many customers just think it is a good idea to keep everything forever. They are really afraid to delete something they may want to look at in the future.

Calderone: What retention or electronic discovery issue was present most often? Goranson: Customers really struggle with retention requirements questions. They would like a simple Best Practices answer but I cannot answer that for them. We try to raise issues that should be considered, but at the end of the day, every organization will have unique considerations, so we refer them to their own Legal Departments or outside counsel or e-discovery consultants to develop their processes.

Calderone: Any other issues you noticed frequently? Goranson: Having good Legal Hold processes is a big driver for email archiving, due, in large part, to the many court cases in the news recently where there were big discovery sanctions awarded. But, similarly to retention practices, customers may not realize that good Legal Hold strategy is about the tools, the processes, and the training, and not simply having a written Legal Hold policy.

I wish to thank Annie Goranson, for taking time to answer some interesting questions and to provide her perspective as a Discovery Attorney, to this Document Retention and Electronic Discovery blog. Her opinions are a welcome addition to the insights of others (not just my own) that have been published here.

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