Email slips as ediscovery target says Symantec

What is the first that your opposing party will target in an ediscovery request? If you answered email, that is wrong according respondents to to a new survey from Symantec who selected files and documents (67 percent), and database or application data (61 percent) ahead of email (58 percent).

Symantec's 2011 Information Retention and eDiscovery Survey contacted  2000 Enterprises from 28 countries with over 1000 employees. It examinined how they manage their ever-growing volumes of electronically stored information and prepare for the eventuality of an eDiscovery request.

"The fact that email is no longer the primary source of information for an eDiscovery request is a significant change from what has been the norm over the past several years," said Dean Gonsowski, eDiscovery Counsel at Symantec.

"With the wide variety of sources in play, including loose documents, structured data, SharePoint content and even social media, it is not enough for legal and IT to simply focus upon email alone. It's critical for the two departments to work together to develop and implement an effective information retention policy."

More than half indicated SharePoint files (51 percent), and nearly half cited instant messages and text messages (44 percent) and social media (41 percent).

The survey found wide variations in information retention practices among enterprises. Companies that employ best practices, such as automating the placement of legal holds and leveraging an archiving tool instead of relying on backups, fare dramatically better when it comes to responding to an eDiscovery request. These top- tier companies are 81 percent more likely to have a formal retention plan in place; 63 percent more likely to automate legal holds; and 50 percent more likely to use a formal archiving tool.

Despite the risks, the survey found nearly half of respondents do not have an information retention plan in place. Thirty percent are only discussing how to do so, and 14 percent have no plan to do so. When asked why, respondents indicated lack of need (41 percent); too costly (38 percent); nobody has been chartered with that responsibility (27 percent); don't have time (26 percent); and lack of expertise (21 percent) are top reasons.