In our world of electronic communication, your business needs to be prepared to handle a major risk of litigation in which you could be responsible to produce records, reports and data from your computer network and systems. Electronic discovery could cost your business tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you are sued.
Find Out What Your Business Owns and Where It Is Stored
To begin with, knowing who uses your company assets can make dealing with electronic discovery issues much simpler. Create and maintain a list of the equipment and devices each employee uses, as well as the hardware and software used to do business. Make sure you know what data your business owns, where it is located, and what backup procedures are in place. Gathering this information is the first, critical step in preparing for electronic document production.
Create a Litigation Plan
litigation is reasonably anticipated (because a complaint is filed or you receive a demand letter), you have a duty to preserve relevant documentation. To meet this duty, your business will need a plan to identify potentially relevant documents; to preserve those documents; and to suspend any routine destruction of documents. This is typically accomplished through a litigation hold, which is issued by your lawyer to those employees who are likely to have relevant information. Email can be particularly cumbersome due to its sheer volume, its routine destruction, and the fluidity and informality with which it is used.
Create or Revise Your Document-Related Policies
Ensure that your document-related policies are not stale. Work with your information technology staff or a consultant, as well as legal counsel, to incorporate electronic documents into these policies. Your policies should detail who owns the data and lay out rules relating to the creation, communication, and storage of data. They should also address employer expectations regarding social media, as well as the use of personal devices and accounts for business purposes. We can help ensure these policies are legally compliant.
Educate Your Employees
Once your litigation plan and policies are set, it’s time to educate your employees. Most employees are conscientious and don’t want to do anything to harm their employers’ interests. However, lawsuits can be intimidating, and often, employees feel that their expectations are unclear.
Provide a question-and-answer session or a presentation for your employees to talk about your new document-related policies. Discuss the potential adverse consequences to the company of failing to preserve documents or of failing to suspend automatic destruction. Wecan advise you regarding the most critical points to include.
Discuss Potential Litigation and Planning with Your Lawyer
Many of the items above can best be achieved working with a lawyer who understands and cares about your business. As a Creative Business Lawyer®firm, we develop proactive relationships with our clients, which means working with us is like having General Counsel on your team. If you have not had a comprehensive review of your legal, insurance, financial and tax systems recently, give us a call to schedule a LIFT Foundation Audit. During your audit, we’ll identify any holes in your systems and design a plan to fill them so you can focus on growing your business at the maximum of impact and income with minimal risk to you and your family.