By Carl Weise posted 12-08-2011 16:54


Discovery is the term used for the initial phase of litigation.  The parties in a dispute are required to provide each other relevant information and records, along with all other evidence, on the matter.  This effort was often time-consuming and expensive but was also limited because this information was retained on paper.  In this age, where computers sit on almost every employee’s desks, greater quantities of information and records are stored in electronic form.

There has been an important change in the perspective of attorneys and executives over the past five years.  Previously, discovery was treated as a one-time crisis exercise with little thought of the costs involved.  It was considered an unmanaged expense of doing business.  With so much of the relevant evidence found now in electronic form, and through the use of electronic records management, email management and discovery computer systems, a systematic approach to handling e-discovery can be developed and these costs can be managed.

In the 2006 amendments to the US Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the requirement to provide electronic information and records was codified, being referred to as electronically stored information (ESI).  There were major requirements and practices identified in these amendments.  With so much of an organization’s information and records stored in electronic form, we now refer to discovery as e-discovery.  With the new appreciation that discovery can be managed, and with computer applications being available to manage information and records and address the e-discovery efforts, a systematic, and cost-effective, approach can be used in dealing with e-discovery.

A major theme of this effort is to be proactive in the handling of potential e-discovery requests.  It is recognized that records management professionals must work with the legal staff and IT to develop a records management program that will support the later discovery efforts.  Records management policies need to be developed stating the need for more records management discipline among employees in managing their information and records.  Information that has no value to the organization must be got rid of quickly, according to policy and in the normal course of business.

Records that have value to the organization must be stored properly so that it is under the control of the organization, can be properly managed and retrieved when required for discovery. A management control structure, called a classification scheme, needs to be approved and followed so that the information and records can be managed.  Records which have served their purpose for the organization and are no longer needed must be destroyed in a systematic and documented way.

 E-discovery software applications are available to enable organizations to pull from the total population of electronic records, including emails, the information and records that are relevant for the discovery request.  Technology is available to eliminate exact copies, as well as near copies, of information and records to reduce the effort and cost of reviewing the remaining content.

The costs of e-discovery can be managed effectively, through a sound records management program and the use of e-discovery system applications.  An excellent reference source is:

Tell us about your success in reducing costs in the e-discovery process at your organization?

What enabled you to be successful at becoming more efficient at handling this process?


I will be speaking at the following events:

  • January 31st - February 3rd, 2012 AIIM ECM Masters in Silver Spring, MD
  • February 7th - 10th, 2012 AIIM ERM Masters in Dallas, TX


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