Risk Update

IG Week (Part 3) — The Elephant in the Room (The Hidden Costs of Electronic Records Retention)

Next up from the recent ILTA IG white paper comes: “The Elephant in the Room: The Hidden Costs and Risks of Electronic Records Retention” —

  • “As of August 2019, NetDocuments was managing over 9.1 billion files across more than 2,500 organizations globally, while iManage was serving more than 2,000 law firms. And that’s just one piece of the puzzle. A typical law firm may have client matter information stored in as many as 30 different types of repositories, and the volume of data continues to grow every day.”
  • “Given the industry trend to embrace more “paper- lite” approaches, it’s understandable that most records management and information governance teams have focused on reducing the volume of physical records in offsite storage, rather than worrying about the impact of cumulative growth in electronic records over time.”
  • “However, the reality is that most law firms today are now storing virtual mountains of digital records they no longer need—including matter files from ex-clients which have been inactive for more than a decade. The costs and risks of this “keep everything just in case” approach are significant and pose looming threats for law firms that fail to act.”
  • “Identifying which electronic records to dispose of can be a mammoth task initially, particularly if your firm has not disposed of electronic records previously. Technology can help. An advanced records management system will be able to provide you with an integrated view of all repositories across your firm—indexing all items within the DMS, file shares, e-discovery archives and even your physical archives. Legal holds related to specific client matters should be applied consistently regardless of where the information resides.”
  • “Just inches from the finish line, some firms find that the biggest challenge for them is getting final sign-off on destroying the massive backlog of aging electronic records that should be destroyed… Lawyers are also trained to be cautious, and in a culture where “having a memory like an elephant” is prized, it can be difficult to let go of the “keep everything” mindset, even if they accept that the status quo is untenable.”
  • “One thing is certain: Left unchecked, the information elephant will continue to grow. For most firms, the volume of digital information received and produced on a daily basis is staggering. Data growth is likely
    to continue at an accelerated pace, and the strain on firm resources could soon reach the breaking point for many.”
  • “Taking a more proactive approach to electronic disposition is a critical step toward more effective information governance, risk management and client service delivery and more cost-efficient use of your digital infrastructure. By eliminating the backlog of electronic records that are no longer needed and automating retention and disposition moving forward, firms can take control and finally start to realize the full rewards of transitioning to “paperless” and ‘paper-lite’ environments.”