Faced with growing amounts of data and spiraling litigation costs, companies must develop a proactive and efficient approach to responding to anticipated or threatened litigation. Although companies still embrace the use of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which may vary by department or business unit, the business arena is moving towards adopting specific enterprise-wide procedures in response to corporate legal matters. Litigation Response Protocol (LRP) is the term that refers to the internal practices used to respond to legal matters in a comprehensive, timely fashion in order to reduce costs and mitigate risks throughout the organization.

The Consequences of Poor Planning

Typically when a legal matter arises, the business, legal and IT segments of a company operate separately to respond. The high volume of electronically stored information in most organizations means that counsel must typically locate and assess large amounts of complex data from a number of diverse repositories such as file shares, e-mail, databases, and the like. In this scenario, a lack of coordination can lead to a number of unwanted results. Information can get lost in the shuffle, data can be inadvertently destroyed and if mistakes are made anywhere in the process, re-collecting data can be expensive (particularly if the review team needs to take a second pass). When the internal business units aren’t working together to coordinate efforts and create a united front throughout the discovery process, this can do more than simply look bad for the company—it can drive up legal costs or lead to sanctions.

In almost every company I consult with, I find both procedural and technical gaps along with a lack of coordination whereby business, IT and legal segments are not working together to address discovery requests. Outside counsel may have SOPs, but there is no platform internally to guide business units so that they can function together. The question that I get asked a lot is: How do we bring business, legal and IT together to have an in-house practice that works?

Developing a Workflow-Driven LRP

To fuse these corporate units and deliver a smooth, proactive response to legal matters, I use assessments and models to show businesses how they are performing and what needs to be done when it comes to proper eDiscovery and records management.

The proprietary software and customized consulting expertise I deploy gives companies the internal process to properly classify types of legal matters, determine risks and ensure that representatives from all three segments are on the same page so they can respond proactively and in a timely fashion—and comply with the law.

Essentially, instead of developing a SOP for one business unit, I create a single LRP that unites all three segments. In doing so, companies save money because they don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time a legal matter comes up. It’s a cost reduction on many fronts.

A solid LRP supports businesses in court and demonstrates corporate responsibility. When a company can show it has completed due diligence, it generally stands a much stronger chance of quickly and effectively resolving legal matters.

Does your company have an effective Litigation Response Protocol in place?

A Field Guide to Enterprise Records Management