This is Part 2 in a multi-part blog discussing various core requirements that can serve as the road map to allow a lawyer to fulfill his/her duty of technological competence. [Click here to read Part 1]
2. Implement Appropriate Preservation Procedures
ESI spoliation remains a real issue that lawyers must confront. The best way to prevent spoliation is to take deliberate and prompt preservation steps.
So, the first question to ask yourself is has my duty to preserve data arisen? While different jurisdictions have different rules, the federal standard, and the one New York subscribes to, was announced in Zubulake v. UBS Warburg LLC (“Zubulake IV”), 220 F.R.D. 212, 218 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). That case stands for the proposition that one’s duty to preserve potentially relevant information begins “once a party reasonably anticipates litigation.”
Assuming your duty to preserve has been triggered, now what?
A lawyer must issue an effective litigation hold notice. I have written previously on how to draft an effective hold [See Litigation Hold Notices Should Not Cloak the Recipient with Discretion Over What Documents to Preserve, Practical Tips For an Effective Litigation Hold Notice, and Your Litigation Hold Must Be Generally Broad and Specifically Tailored] and refer you to those posts, but note it is critically important that the Hold is clear, comprehensive and provides a resource for questions. Minimally it should provide custodians with detailed instructions on what they are expected to do upon receipt of the Hold; and ensure that the Hold sets forth the specifics of what information must be preserved, thus limiting any discretion vested in the recipients of the Hold. Additionally, prior to issuance, an attorney must identify which custodians/entities are receiving the Hold; what third-parties over whom the client has practical control, if any, should receive the Hold; and what procedures will you implement to audit compliance with the Hold.