by Cary J. Calderone, Esquire
Let me start by hedging a bit. I am not recommending these products. I played with only demonstration versions. I do not test and review products unless I have been specifically hired by a client to help them decide what product they should purchase for their particular needs. However, at this past Legal Tech Show I was happy to demo two new products that smaller companies could afford to use. This is good news because in the DRED space, most of the initial products released targeted large clients and installations and had pretty large price tags. It is hard to imagine a smaller business working with a product that starts at 300k to solve a retention or eDiscovery problem. The two products I noticed: 1)Legal Hold Pro by Zapproved and 2) BitFlare by SunBlock Systems.
These are both products that may help many smaller businesses. Legal Hold Pro allows a customer to track Legal Holds, and more importantly, all the communications around the Legal Hold (LH). There are many challenges with issuing LHs. The obvious issues involve when the LH should be issued and what it should cover. However, it is also critical that the LH is adequately communicated to the correct custodians and that you can validate the communication for compliance with your LH policy. Legal Hold Pro is a SaaS product (in the Cloud) that helps users track not only the initial distribution of the LH but also, subsequent updates. I think the best feature may be that it helps users remove the LH when it is no longer necessary. This is an issue that has not been discussed as much. Even those who are proficient at the initial LH process will admit that they are much more disorganized when it comes to removing the LH. And, if you are holding data, whether you need to be or not, it now may be subject to a new discovery request and/or a new LH. So the product may help you legally "clean house" a little better.
Similarly, BitFlare gives smaller companies the ability to lock down computers for LH or data forensic purposes. There are other forensic tools, some of them more affordable than others, but the focus of BitFlare is that a non-techy can follow simple instructions and secure data on a computer, in a fashion that Bitflare claims (I do not know if it has been tested in court) will preserve the chain-of-custody and accordingly, preserve its use as evidence. BitFlare is not a Cloud or SaaS product, but rather is a software product that comes on a bootable CD disc and can be run on any laptop or desktop computer (not sure about Operating System limitations).
They have an interesting pricing schedule. You can download the software for free and use it (provided you know how to burn an ISO cd) but then if you want the spreadsheet that lists the content on the computer, it will cost you $250. My hunch is they use this approach so when you think you might need contents for a LH you can lock it down. Then, and only if and when you need to analyze the data, you can pay $250 to see what is actually on the computer.
Once again, I have not used either of these products other than the demo versions, so you will need to test and verify that they will work for you. Still, it is very nice to see a few products capable of helping smaller companies tackle issues around DRED law. Let's hope this is just the beginning and there will be more affordable products to help companies become and stay DRED ready.