We’ve spoken a lot about how important it is for companies to have records policies and eDiscovery tools in place. With the rising number of legal matters companies face today, fighting back can be costly in many ways. Instead, you have to have a litigation-ready organization.

Of course, organizations can’t be completely proactive because they cannot predict when or what types of legal matters will arise. The fact is, however, that these situations do come up. According to the 2011 ECM State of the Industry Report, 20% of respondents managed more than 50 discovery cases a year; 13% handled more than 120 cases per year.

How can your organization respond to litigation appropriately and cost-effectively? The company must incorporate measures to limit its liability and ensure a timely response.

Becoming “litigation-ready”

A few steps can help your company become prepared in the event that you need to respond to a legal issue.

  1. Prepare with policies. According to a recent study from UC Berkeley, more than 96% of all information in an enterprise is in the digital format, and 70% of all paper documents are copies of electronic documents. If you have not already, draft a records management policy that governs electronically stored information (ESI) including instructions on records retention and destruction. You must have the policy in place along with supportive processes to enforce it. I see many organizations that have solid policies but don’t emphasize data destruction, which is imperative to protect the privacy of partners, customers, employees and comply with applicable regulations.
  2. Develop and deploy an early case assessment solution. This application and process will pinpoint the liabilities during early phases of a case so your company knows exactly what it is dealing with. The tool will help you get the most out of an initial meeting by defining the issues at hand and specifying what actions your company must take in order to respond to legislation and comply with any governing regulations.
  3. Designate a Rule 30(b)(6) witness. Organizations should identify an individual that is well-educated on the company’s records management policy and the eDiscovery process. After litigation is filed, this person attends meetings and confers with the outside and inside counsel. This person will be instrumental if the organization needs to testify about the ESI produced during the discovery because he or she has all knowledge to best represent the company’s interests.

The whole idea behind being a litigation-ready organization is to be prepared in the event of a legal matter. Companies cannot stop these situations from coming up, but they can choose to deal with them responsively in a way that puts the organization in the best position possible.

Is your company litigation-ready?

A Field Guide to Enterprise Records Management