A strong information management system is the most effective preventative measure a company can take to mitigate legal fees in litigation, yet it also the most overlooked. The lack of a formal discovery process in the Japanese legal system has left some Japanese companies uniquely vulnerable to the risks and expenses of U.S. legal proceedings. Our information management service assists companies in developing data governance controls designed to minimize the risk and expense of future litigation, while preserving key materials in a lawful and defensible manner.
The vast majority of information collected, reviewed, and produced in U.S. litigation is irrelevant to determining its outcome. The problem many Japanese companies face is the need to process and review excessively large amounts of materials that are technically related to a case, but are ultimately inconsequential. Tremendous amounts of money and resources are often squandered by the need to process, review, and produce materials that could have been eliminated with stronger information management practices. In addition to excess legal fees, superfluous data frequently provides opportunities for counter-parties to make additional claims, and can impact the size of settlements as parties must consider the cost of pursuing litigation against the cost of a settlement. All these problems can be mitigated through a practical approach to information management, but it must be undertaken before the litigation arises. By the time a lawsuit commences and legal holds are in place, US law prevents the deletion of materials possibly related to a case.
Key elements of a strong information governance system includes:
Creation of Information Management Team: Assemble a select group of individuals with control over information and risk management (e.g. IT, legal, compliance).
Comprehensive Analysis of Applicable Laws: Determine all federal, state, local, and regulatory laws applicable to stored information, what preservation requirements exist, and what the statute of limitations is for high-risk litigation areas.
Assessment of Relevant Data: Identify the type of information generated (emails, hard copies, spreadsheets, invoices, etc), the stored location, and existing storage, transfer, and destruction practices.
Draft Governance Policy: Assist in drafting an information governance policy with a clearly stated purpose, create a preservation and deletion schedule for each category of information based on applicable laws and risk considerations, and devise measures for routine revision plan and monitoring.
Maintenance and Monitoring: Alert all relevant parties and departments of deletion schedule in regular intervals, monitor destruction measures, and report on company-wide compliance of the governance policy.
Our discovery work for Japanese companies in multiple industries has provided us with unique insight on both the type of data that leads to increased costs and exposure, and the kind of information that impacts the outcome of a dispute. Through designing and implementing strong controls, we can help to drastically reduce legal expenses for every type of future litigation.