eDiscovery – The Carrot or the Stick?

So I must admit, the more I learn about eDiscovery the more confused I get.  No it’s not the technology the leaves me in a quandary. It’s why companies are still thinking about how they might resolve the problem then actually deploying solutions.  On one side you have millions in costs searching for documents.  On the other side you have the potential to loose millions in a lawsuit.  These are two opposite sides of a coin but either way you look at it you’ll be spending more than pennies to resolve this.  Yet still company sit around contemplating if it’s in this years budget or next.

I got an opportunity to hear attorney Ralph Losey speak on the topic, at the Content Management and Archiving Writer’s Summit, and he drop some interesting facts.  So I thought, maybe I’d try one more time.  We get accused of using “the stick” to often so maybe some soft talk with “the carrot” is what’s needed.

The Carrot
Unfortunately litigation is a common situation in business.  Some are saying that in this new economic climate, companies need to expect more lawsuits.  And with the proliferation of electronic information, plaintiffs are setting their sites on corporate content, especially email.  Of course the defense can look to corporate content to protect themselves but that means they’d need to find it.

eDiscovery costs can an American company millions.  Microsoft themselves admits to paying $20M per litigation.  Yes, I said $20,000,000 for each case.  This is more money for one case then the US Department of Justice spent to prosecute them.

This costs comes from the need to collect and analyze often several gigabytes of content, one by one.  And think it’s not costing your business?  Then simply look at what your legal department’s costs are.  Imagine being able to cut that number by half or even just a quarter.  We’re talking of millions of dollars or, another way to look at it, hundreds of jobs.

The Stick
We’ve all heard the horror stories, but do we listen?  Obviously not.  While the quick question is, why not throw everything away?  You can’t.  And the naive statement is, do nothing wrong.  You can’t get away from litigation, either right or wrong.  And in some cases it may seem that courts are no longer about the slickest attorney but the one that can create the most complex eDiscovery subpoena.  The innocent do loose cases.

And what can loosing a case in court cost?  Your really don’t want to know

So What Motivates You
These days the battle happens way before your high powered attorney walks into the courtroom.  It starts, and often ends, in your IT department and won by the one with the biggest hardware . 

Still need more food for thought?  Then visit attorney Ralph Losey’s blog and read more for yourself.  Or maybe John Cleese has it right …


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