In-house Legal Teams struggle with collab tools: Report

Despite increasing reliance on online platforms like Slack, Teams, Facebook, Zoom, and WhatsApp for both internal and external communications, many companies are slow to implement formal practices for the retention and preservation of online data. In fact, 71.6% rated their organization as “immature” or “intermediate,” according to a new report from the US Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Pagefreezer.

The Collecting Online Data for eDiscovery & Litigation Readiness Report, which surveyed 211 in-house counsels across 23 industries and 22 countries, examines how legal teams are dealing with new data sources like team collaboration tools (like Slack and MS Teams) and video conferencing platforms (like Zoom) and identifies the key challenges. The results reveal important quantitative insights into the current maturity level of information governance (IG) programs and the extent to which legal departments are adequately prepared for the eDiscovery processes involved in potential litigation.

“Combining the impacts of the exigencies of COVID-19 and the already frantic pace of adoption of new technology, information governance is undergoing a revolution,” said Catherine J. Moynihan, AVP of legal management services at ACC. 

“The information in this report is critical to the in-house community – especially to discovery professionals involved in litigation, data privacy, and information security – because it provides an actionable look at where they are now, and where they need to go, in IG maturity. A safe, compliant, competitive law department requires this level of nuanced benchmark.”

“With the explosive volume of ESI being created through team collaboration tools like Slack and MS Teams, websites, social media, and text messages, legal teams need to preserve and produce this ESI in the same manner as they currently handle email. Yet, the results of the survey shows the IG practices for these types of data are not nearly as mature as that of email and cloud-based documents. Many legal teams would not only struggle to respond to a sudden request for production of online data, but would struggle to even identify and access this ESI,” said Peter Callaghan, Chief Revenue Officer of Pagefreezer. 

“Fortunately, solutions exist and we’ve helped organizations cut down ESI identification work from weeks to minutes.”

Key findings from the report include:

  1. 71.6% of the participating organizations have IG programs that are in an early or intermediate stage of development and are still evolving.
  2. Content management is decentralized across business units in most organizations with only 3.3% boasting automated data retention processes.
  3. Requests for production are most often handled by turning the data over to third parties. However, large organizations are more likely to use custom-built tools for production requests across data sources.
  4. There is high reliance on the IT department to produce records. Very few legal departments are able to produce records themselves quickly and easily.
  5. Most organizations plan to invest in IG improvements in the next year or have recently made an investment.
  6. Records retention is a high priority, but lack of time, available workforce, and necessary funds are the biggest barriers to more mature data retention and preservation processes.

The data for the report was compiled in March 2021. The full report is available here (