April 15, 2009

"Reasonable" is graded on a scale

by Cary J. Calderone, Esquire

The Silicon Valley chapter of ARMA International held an ITRIM (Trim your data) one-day conference recently and I was fortunate to attend the lunch panel discussion. The panel members, Grant Law, Esquire of Shook Hardy & Bacon, Nathan Walker, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer of NetApp Corporation, Lisa Ripley, CISSP, Electronic Discovery Manager of Sun Microsystems, Inc., and Greg Lipptez, Esquire of the Jones Day law firm, gave brief presentations covering many familiar data retention and electronic discovery ("DRED") themes: 1) You will get sued therefore having a Data Map that explains what you have and where you have it is critical.. 2) Legal needs to be able to listen to IT and vice versa.
3) There is a constant struggle between lawyers who prefer to keep very little data and IT personnel who keep as much as possible. 4) Too many organizations have too many employees who are “surprised” to learn they actually have a record retention policy (and this is especially bad when their legal team learns of this fact during sworn testimony). And finally, 5) the law requiring what you need to keep, is not static, it changes. While it is nice to know that concepts that I have previously covered in this blog are out there being discussed and adopted by more data managers and professionals, I would almost have declined to write about the discussion but for one really great quote from Nathan Walker. Answering a question on "how best to avoid getting into trouble" with the production of Electronic Discovery for Meet and Confer conferences and motions to compel hearings, Nathan said: “The more you appear to know what you have and where you have it, the more your threshold for “reasonable” goes down.” This comment was cheered by the audience and maybe the best simple explanation for why Records and Information Managers, IT, Compliance and Legal departments need to make retention schedules, train people to follow them, and continually monitor them. To paraphrase the famous Billy Crystal character Nando, on Saturday Night Live, when it comes to electronic discovery, it is more important to appear to “look absolutely marvelous” than actually "feel absolutely marvelous." Bottom line-it is always best to know what you have and where you have it.

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