Legal Risks and Rules
E-Mail Creates Discoverable Evidence
Where does your organization stand on the matter of electronic evi- dence? Do you know the difference between business-critical e-mail that must be retained for legal or regulatory purposes versus insignificant messages that may be deleted in the ordinary course of business? Is your e-mail archive a dangerous mix of professional correspondence and personal conversations that could potentially embarrass your employees and sabotage your firm2019s legal position? Would you be able to locate and produce legally compliant e-mail messages and attachments quickly and responsively if ordered to do so by a court or regulatory body?
You Are Not Alone
In 2006, 24 percent of employers had e-mail subpoenaed by courts or regulators, up from 9 percent just five years earlier. And 15 percent of organizations went to court in 2006 to battle lawsuits specifically trig- gered by employees2019 smoking-gun e-mails, according to American Man- agement Association/ePolicy Institute research.1
In spite of e-mail2019s growing evidentiary role, however, only 34 per- cent of U.S. companies have implemented written e-mail record reten- tion policies and deletion schedules .2 Of the 66 percent of businesses that do not formally preserve and systematically dispose of e-mail records according to written rules and schedules, some save all their messages, others purge everything, and still others approach record retention and deletion as hit-or-miss propositions.