Many companies have embraced social media as an effective marketing and communication channel, but when you think of social media and eDiscovery together, the enthusiasm can turn to fear and dread – just as it has for a growing number of corporations.
True, social media does have an ugly side (employers spying on employees, trade secrets being carelessly shared, and corporate gossip that can tarnish even the most solid, clean cut image that companies like to project). But talking social media in terms of eDiscovery is downright uglier. An the reason is obvious enough: eDiscovery is all about litigation, and most would agree (even honest lawyers), litigation is something most folks compare to the Bubonic plague
No Management Policy for Electronic Information? Create it – PRONTO!
Eliminating fear and dread from the social media/eDiscovery equation is possible, provided that companies establish and strictly enforce a management policy. Roumiania Deltcheva cites statistics from Hafez Daraee, who writes for Oregon’s Daily Journal of Commerce. Daraee’s observations:
2/3 of surveyed companies said that they worry about eDiscovery requests;
25% said they were not adequately prepared to fulfill eDiscovery requests;
33% said they were only partially prepared
And how many companies questioned on the survey were fully prepared? Only 9%!
That’s like saying 9% of pilots are fully prepared to fly, or 9% of surgeons are fully prepared to operate, or that 9% of politicians are competent enough to hold office.
(Er. Maybe scratch that last one.)
9% is a staggeringly tiny percentage, considering that most companies either have a full service legal department or else retain the services of a law firm. What’s even more remarkable is that companies, in the last 10 years, have resorted to using e-mail when communicating with customers, suppliers and providers. So why haven’t they gotten around the conference table to draft such a critical electronic information policy?
Is it lack of time? Lack of resources? Lack of expertise? Possibly. But these aren’t reasons; they’re excuses. Time, resources and expertise may be rare commodities in the corporate world, but they exist. And that means corporations need to do some soul searching, pull up their socks (or any other piece of clothing that helps), and prepare well for the tsunami of social media eDiscovery issues that are going to become a big – if not the biggest – part of their legal future. Because really, it’s just a matter of time.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some Tweeting to do.