Let’s talk about Data Mapping.
More often than not I find that while a company can be extraordinarily successful and well run, it really isn’t ready for Litigation from a data management standpoint. I mean seriously, show me a traditional Information Technology training course that deals with legal hold and archival indexing. 🙂 It just isn’t part of the plan for most companies who aren’t experienced in Litigation.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world as a trusted consultant. Over the last 20 years I helped put the pieces together to make production deadlines in high stakes Litigation through every circuit court system in the United States. We’ve worked with companies like GM, Intel, DELL, Samsung and Apple just to shamelessly name drop a few..
As any successful organization will tell you, an eventual casualty of success is Litigation. Litigation will happen, and you can almost guarantee that when it does opposing counsels’ requests for information will be overly broad and as far-reaching as the law will allow. Some organizations are more litigious than others; that will always be the case. But even with a great Information Technology Group, legal teams can still run into some pretty substantial challenges when it’s time to respond to these requests for information.
Do you remember that time when the company decided to upgrade their email server and for a couple of days old emails were in the process of being migrated from one server to another? Do you remember that time when the company decided to upgrade from an older version of Windows to a new one? These upgrades and migrations often result in known, or unknown, data loss… And these are just the events that you’ve personally been exposed to.
What about the backup tape system? There are a lot of options on the market for this challenge. Backup sounds pretty straightforward, right? Sometimes in the migration the company will even choose a different backup medium, either electing for a more efficient larger storage tape device or even considering cloud as a long-term storage medium for archives.
The process of switching to a new interface and back-end system very rarely happens without some type of data loss. If the IT department decides to make this migration in February of 2019, there could be a radical difference between the scope of archival before that date or after, and exactly what archives are held in legacy systems versus new. Sometimes data is catastrophically lost for technical reasons, or even due to vandalism of some sort. In the end, the company rebounds and life goes on.
All of this happens behind the scenes and there’s really no reason to involve counsel or C-Level company leadership. Email still works, servers are still online, the website is up and we’re probably not leaking information to malicious actors. The ultimate goals of IT are met and no one bats an eye.
Then one day, Litigation happens.
IT is generally an afterthought when it comes to Litigation. No offense, that’s just how it goes. CEOs, shareholders and executive level leadership work with Counsel to either develop a complaint or start pulling together a strategy to respond to one. Often weeks or even months after that, IT is brought in to recover content from email, shared libraries and network storage devices to be used as evidence supporting the claims made by the company, or to counter claims made by opposing parties.
It’s at this point that things can get weird.
Since counsel wasn’t aware of a data loss two years ago, or that half the content in scope is stored on legacy tapes stored at Iron Mountain in another state, or that Steve (the old IT manager) was the only one who had the password to those encrypted archives and the company doesn’t even own a tape drive that works with that archived media any longer… People get nervous. For good reason.
So, let’s talk about Data Mapping, and why it’s critical for modern Business Litigation.
Data Mapping is the process of documenting a company’s information systems, where data is stored across the organization, how people communicate and how old content is archived. While working through the process, potential gaps in data are exposed and data is graded to determine ultimate cost and complexity if it becomes necessary to harvest for the purpose of Litigation.
The process takes about 10-15 hours from start to finish, requiring about half of that time in deep, thorough interviews with IT and management staff. The deliverable work product is a full report of where the company’s data is located and a timeline indicating data volume and level of confidence around it.
The data map serves the legal team’s needs immediately, providing reliable answers to questions about user generated content, databases, financial systems, and communication systems within the company like email or instant messaging platforms. Furthermore, it serves as a starting point for counsel and IT managers to start building long term improvements to data storage and archival strategies to improve response to Litigation / eDiscovery events in the future. The process delivers immediate value to existing Litigation and provides a catalyst for improvement of organizational data strategies going forward.
Finally, we data map with our clients absolutely free of charge. It’s included with our all inclusive Cost Confidence programs. A consultant could charge you $30K or more for a proper data map. Instead we include it as an extraordinary value-add for your clients in their time of need.
Consider data mapping and get Platinum involved on your next matter. Your clients will thank you.