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Teamwork is key

Developing a legally defensible and technically sound Document Retention / Destruction Policy solution requires a team approach.  Akin to a "barn raising" the coordinated work of various skilled and talented specialists is required.  Every business and institution has a unique mix of needs and in-house expertise.  What is clear is that every document retention / destruction policy solution requires addressing 3 main areas: Legal, RIM and IT.

Graphic showing multidisciplinary team approach to document retention policy consulting used by Attorney O'Neill 

 

Business Drivers / ROI

Just as teenagers are not motivated to keep their rooms clean, business organizations and government agencies do not typically view the creation of legally defensible document retention / destruction policies as critical tasks.  With the advent of Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements and the recent changes to the discovery sections of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, concern with investigations and litigation combined with the growing volume of electronically stored information are becoming common business drivers.  Organizations need to recognize that this activity, if done properly, will reduce risk and produce ROI results.  Budgeting priorities need to reflect the new realities as all businesses move from a paper-centric model toward email and electronic documents.

Confidentiality

Because many issues related to potential investigations or litigation should be kept confidential, it is vitally important that the proliferation of such information be tightly controlled.  Unlike typical technology and records providers, our team approach initially creates the highest possible safeguards for confidential information through the use of the attorney-client communications privilege.  Compared with a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement, which can be pierced by third parties with relative ease, the privilege accorded to clients seeking and receiving legal advice can provide additional protection.  At the beginning of an engagement our clients are free to discuss all of the reasons for needing to implement, supplement or revamp their document retention / destruction policies.  Whether records were inappropriately destroyed or whether laws with criminal penalties were violated, communications regarding the problems and solutions can be freely and openly discussed.

If any of the reasons for requiring technical document retention / destruction policy solutions could cause embarrassment or increase legal risk, you should consider engaging an attorney first in order to create and maintain the critical communications privilege and work-product protections.  Under the law of agency an attorney may be able to create an umbrella of privilege and other confidential protections over agents (e.g., RIM, and IT specialists) where the subject matter of the engagement relates to issues with a legal component.  Because of the vast regulatory environment and the substantial number of civil and even criminal penalties for records management errors, nearly every records management question has a legal component.  We have the knowledge and experience to communicate on a technical level with RIM and IT professionals.  If there are any questions about legal liability, get a competent lawyer out in front of your technical team.

Graphic showing confidentiality created by attorney-client privilege in multidisciplinary team approach 

For more information about our Document Retention Policy Consulting Practice please contact Steve O’Neill at soneill@attorneyoneill.com or toll-free 888-766-3455.

 

Document Retention Policy Consulting Services Available

  • Fully Confidential Advice

  • Development of Legally Defensible Document Retention Policies

  • Litigation Readiness Plans

  • Litigation Hold Procedures

  • Records & Information Management (RIM)

  • Electronic Records Management (ERM)

  • Email Management

  • Mapping Network and Storage Systems Architecture

  • Electronic Document Storage Solutions

  • Computer Forensics

  • Written Information Security Programs (WISP)

  • Mass. 201 CMR 17.00 Compliant Employment Policies


Professional Partners

  • Electronic Storage Systems Consultants

  • Professional Records Managers

  • Computer Forensics Consultants

  • Network Systems Consultants

 

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