Demystifying Data Forensics

Companies to evaluate their data storage in preparation of court appearances

Storage managers struggling to please industry regulators have another wolf approaching the door -- corporate lawyers. Increased litigation and the deadline for amendments to the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) set to go into effect December 1, are forcing companies to take a look at how they store data that could wind up in court.

By the end of this year, storage managers must be sure they can prove, among other things, that data required for any judicial purpose comes from a "good-faith operation of an electronic information system." They must take steps to ensure that data that may be needed in court -- emails, database entries, whatever -- is preserved without change from the moment that litigation is anticipated. (See Lawyers Urge Doc Management, Retention Rules Set to Change, and Storage Goes to Law School.)

The problem has several aspects. First, IT managers need to be sure they know where their data is in case it is required in court. "I'm sure some people are running around thinking of the December 1 date as a catastrophic problem," says Lori Wagner, a partner in the Minneapolis firm of Redgrave Daley Ragan & Wagner, which specializes in helping companies handle their data legally. "A lot of organizations don't really know what they have. They have to make some time to see that records management has an important connection with the legal department."

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