No matter the size, no matter how many or few offices a corporation may have, in these times of cloud storage, wide area networking and immense and very portable information, it is more important than ever that our clients understand where their data is being stored. We’ve just recently completed collection on a case where data turned up in locations top management wasn’t even aware existed…resulting in costs that the GC was unhappy about and unprepared for. Even in the best of cases, changes occur frequently regarding the management of data and with proper documentation and planning, companies can exercise additional control over costs by knowing where their data is to be found.
The best tool for a company to keep track of its data is a living, breathing document called a data map.
What is a Data Map?
A data map is an index of a company’s records and information systems. A data map can provide an easily accessible reference to determine where and how data is stored—particularly data that a company considers most valuable or most risky. For instance, when a company wishes to quickly locate information related to a customer, a data map offers a simple and comprehensive method to identify the multiple business units and information systems where such data may reside.
Understanding How Data is Used
It is important to understand where a company’s data is actually used and stored on a day-to-day basis. For instance, if employees regularly copy email or other documents to their local hard drives, that can be reflected on the data map. Similarly, employees may create ad hoc backups or secondary data systems that should be mapped as well. This information can be gathered through questionnaires, surveys, and face-to-face interviews with employees.
Benefits of Data Mapping
In addition to helping it better manage its records and information, data mapping can benefit a company in a variety of ways:
- More efficient document collection and review in litigation (and reduced risk of inadvertent noncompliance or underproduction);
- Faster and more accurate litigation holds;
- Stronger evidence that certain discovery requests are unduly burdensome or duplicative;
- Greater accuracy and consistency in discovery disclosures and responses;
- Enhanced management of data security, backup, and record retention policies;
- Improved compliance with legal and regulatory obligations;
- Improved communication and data-sharing between business units and with external service providers; and
- Greater efficiency in business operations.
Data Mapping and Litigation
Data maps can simplify a company’s compliance with discovery obligations imposed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and similar state procedural rules.
Initial Disclosures. A company with sound data mapping policies will have an easier time describing, by category and location, potentially responsive documents, electronically stored information, and tangible materials.
Meet-and-confer. A company with a data map will be better prepared to meet and confer about discovery issues. A data map can also help to limit discovery to relevant sources and counter an opponent’s demands for information that is not reasonably accessible.
Avoiding sanctions for information loss. A data map showing data retention policies will aid a company with preserving and maintaining potentially responsive data.
Maintaining the Data Map
The company should have a plan for updating the data map to reflect changes in the underlying information. Updates should be automated to the extent possible—a data map can become ineffective if updating it relies too heavily on manual effort.
A comprehensive data map can be a valuable asset, particularly with regard to high-value or high-risk data sources. Generating a data map may require substantial time and resources in the long term, but by focusing initially on high-priority data sources, progress can be made in the short term to help reduce legal risks, decrease discovery costs, and enhance records management and data security policies.
Thought for the Day
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Thank you to FindLaw for this story
An Ohio magistrate gave Mark Byron a difficult choice: Go to jail, or post a long-winded public Facebook apologyto his estranged wife — every day, for the next 30 days.
“It’s outlandish,” Byron told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m afraid to do anything. People are even fearful that Facebook can be regulated by a judge.”
But a judge affirmed the magistrate’s ruling, and found the Facebook apology fitting in Byron’s case. Byron had blasted his wife in an earlier rant on Facebook, which violated a restraining order, the judge ruled.
Continue reading Man Ordered to Post Facebook Apologies to Wife to Avoid Jail.