Email is Exhibit A

According to a recent article by Darrell Dunn, “more emails are used as evidence in legal suits now, making new tools to better monitor and manage email usage crucial”.

Despite so many highly publicized legal cases involving email, only 35% of companies have email retention policies, and 37% of employees say they don’t know which messages should be retained and which purged, according to surveys conducted by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute, a training and consulting firm.

Most companies don’t realize that failure to get a handle on email–and soon instant messages and blogs and other forms of business communications–can cost them a lot of money and their reputation.

“The first thing my clients want to see now is email and email attachments,” says Eric Blank, managing attorney of law firm Blank Law & Technology, which specializes in electronic evidence detection. “Sometimes that’s the only thing they search.” Legal battles involving email can be costly. A good paralegal or attorney can review about four documents per minute looking for evidence, Blank says. If a company has to review millions of pages of email, legal fees of US$300 an hour can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“A few years ago, many businesses said they should delete [old E-mail], but today the conventional wisdom is to keep it,” says Aaref Hilaly, chief executive of Clearwell Systems. “Once an email is out there, it’s out there, and you can’t guarantee an email has been obliterated. It could always be lurking on some user’s machine or be in the hands of a competitor. Deleting email is like playing poker without knowing what all your cards are. Do we fight or settle?”

The companies may employ specific software to search for particular pieces of data or individual messages. In this case, the ability to dive down into the data, index it, and retrieve it radically simplifies the processing of getting particular content.

Speed is good when hit with a lawsuit or subpoena. But advance planning is better. Businesses are expected to start spending substantially more money on email archiving applications, with sales predicted to jump from US$796 million this year to US$7.8 billion in 2010, according to consulting firm the Radicati Group.

Even companies not facing legal threats need to consider better ways of managing and monitoring email, and they also should review their policies on message retention and archiving. It’s better to deal with these issues in advance than have to confront them on the witness stand.

This blog is run by the authors of FindProtected.
FindProtected is a security program that allows you to search your network for password protected and evidential files. FindProtected makes it easier to discover electronic evidence that may be used in litigation.

Comments are closed.