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November 10, 2009

Hosted E-mail Archiving: Meeting Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Part 4 of 10)

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor


Editor’s Note: In its 10-part series highlighting governmental rules and regulations associated with the management and storage of electronic communications, TMCnet recently featured a story on the “Freedom of Information Act and state “Sunshine Laws,”which govern public access to governmental records. This week, TMCnet explores the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a law revised in 2006 that now shift the rules of discovery in legal proceeding to focus on procedures that will streamline evidence presentation. The article below highlights how 123Together.com, a leading provider of hosted business services, can help organizations comply with new the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requirements with its GuardDoc Hosted E-mail Archiving Solution.
 
E-mail archiving isn’t just being used as an alternative means of data storage or a way for companies to maintain a central knowledge base any longer. 
 
The practice has taken on even greater importance since the federal governments modifications to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in December 2006. This law made changes to the discovery process during court proceedings, making it easier for courts and litigating parties to manage electronic records.
 
With the updated law, IT administrators and legal departments have a greater responsibility than ever before to quickly search for requested data and provide it to the court in its original format.
 
The challenges in meeting a courts demand for electronic data within a specific timeframe can be overwhelming for a company that does not have a dedicated IT staff as well as for those who do, but 123Together.com (News - Alert), a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of hosted business services, said its GuardDoc Hosted E-mail Archiving Service can help. The company’s service can help businesses of all sizes with or without a technical staff to quickly and painlessly meet Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
 
The primary requirements of the law are:
 
Native File Format
All e-mails must be submitted to the court in their original format and must be unaltered in any way. Printed copies of e-mails are unacceptable. 
 
Litigation Hold
Companies are required to prevent their employees from deleting e-mails when they are put on "litigation hold." The court may request that your company provide proof that your litigation hold policy is in place and meets the federal regulations. A litigation hold should be put in place by a company as soon as they are aware - either formally or informally - that a lawsuit is imminent. 
 
Exhaustive Search
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that an exhaustive search of all electronically stored information must be done without specifically waiting for a “discovery request” from the court. A search of all employee-to-employee communication and communication with contractors employed by the company must be conducted quickly and handed over as soon as the request for information is received.
 
Deadlines Must Be Met
The search of all electronic data must be performed at the beginning of a lawsuit but no later than the first pre-trial discovery-related meeting which must occur within 99 days. However, these 99 days are not just for data retrieval but also for legal review and preparation of materials to present to the court. As a result, there are actually less than 99 days for an IT or legal department to retrieve information. All electronic data including e-mails and attachments found on employees’ laptops, office PCs and Smartphones must be searched. 
 
123Together.com’s hosted GuardDoc archiving service securely captures and indexes an unlimited amount of electronic data giving each e-mail a unique sequential identification number and multiple copies are stored in off-site compliant storage. In the case of a court’s request for electronic data, 123Together.com’s GuardDoc hosted archiving service enables the business to implement a litigation hold on the information requested. The business'slegal counsel can then quickly search for all data associated with the case via any web-enabled computer and can easily copy all e-mails and attachments to a “hold” folder where they will remain for as long as the litigation hold is in place. 
 
The GuardDoc service offers unlimited e-mail storage for a nominal, monthly fee. The service can be set up within minutes from an easy to use web-based control panel. All users also have access to around-the-clock technical support. 123Together.com is offering GuardDoc hosted archiving service for just $3 per user per month for customers who enable its hosted archiving service before the end of November. 
 
Companies can try out GuardDoc e-mail archiving under no obligation for 30-days on the 123Together.com Web site.
 

Check back for next week’s segment on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.


Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney




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