The Comprehensive Guide to Preservation Plans
By Meg McLaughlin, Sr. Manager of Product and Content Marketing, Zapproved
Using Best Practices to Improve Outcomes
We get that recommended “best practices” can sound great in theory, but corporate legal teams are busy, and carving out time to implement these frameworks can feel out of reach. That’s why we try to focus on key processes and plans that are truly additive – things that will streamline your work to help you save time, reduce costs, or reduce risk.
For example, we’ve recently provided recommended steps for matter resolution, responding to third-party subpoenas, and conducting an ediscovery security audit, because these are areas where legal teams can experience high impact from formal processes. The time it takes to implement a process can be recouped through the huge benefits it yields across current and future work.
Why Implement a Preservation Plan?
We believe a strong preservation plan is a critical cornerstone for corporate legal teams, even though it isn’t required by any governing body. A formalized plan ensures a timely response by identifying how decisions will be made and what processes will be necessary when a preservation obligation arises.
Your organization has to ensure that your preservation efforts are reasonable and in good faith – core tenets of defensibility. And a preservation plan provides a blueprint for your defensible process, from initial awareness of a trigger event through the release of legal holds at the close of a matter. Most legal teams are going to have some sort of standard preservation workflows in place, but a preservation plan helps you gather all those tasks into one standard, repeatable process.
How to Get Started
We have consolidated our preservation plan recommendations into a comprehensive ebook that is designed for corporate legal teams, whether you are starting from scratch or looking for ways to refine your current plan. Essential Elements Of A Preservation Plan is meant to be a practical guide to creating or updating your plan, including tips, checklists, and actionable steps. Here are the basics to get started, and be sure to check out the ebook for in-depth discuss of these topics:
Essential Elements of a Preservation Plan
- Recognizing the Trigger Event
Evaluating a trigger event should be a fact-based inquiry, based on what is known at the time – focus on how you will identify and evaluate trigger events.
- Defining the Scope of Preservation
Once the organization is subject to a duty to preserve, you must determine a reasonable scope for those preservation efforts.
- Taking Action to Preserve
Legal holds must be timely, with clear instructions on the actions that need to be taken, and include mechanisms to ensure that data custodians receive the notice and comply.
- Monitoring the Hold
Legal hold obligations don’t end once you hit “send.” You need a mechanism to track acknowledgments, send past-due notices, and issue periodic reminders over the life of the hold.
- Releasing the Hold
Avoid the urge to preserve data indefinitely. An effective preservation plan ends with releasing holds and resuming normal operations, including any scheduled data destruction.