Tools You Can Use for Legal Holds – Hold On Series, Part 6

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A multi-part series on achieving effective legal holds, including relevant case law, content to include, processes to employ, best practices to follow, available tools to leverage, and more

In the first Part of this series, we reviewed an assortment of recent cases illustrating the potential dangers associated with ineffective or nonexistent legal holds.  In the second Part, we reviewed the duty of preservation and the triggers to that duty and hold issuance.  In the third Part, we reviewed the standard elements of an effective legal hold.  In the fourth Part and the fifth Part, we reviewed the importance of defined hold processes and policies for the five key legal hold activities.  In this Part, we will discuss the tools you can use for these activities.

Paper and Email

The first and simplest tool available for legal holds is, of course, paper.  Before the advent of the options discussed below, paper holds, signed paper confirmations, and paper reminders were the norm, and for smaller organizations (e.g., those in a single office location), paper may still be a good choice.  It is simple and inexpensive to create, distribute, and document holds in this fashion.  For larger or more geographically-distributed organizations, paper can quickly become logistically cumbersome and time consuming, however.

As consistent, universal email usage became typical, the same processes were executed using messages in the body of emails: holds distributed as emails, confirmation responses done as reply emails, etc.  This is also a suitable approach for small or medium organizations, and email lets you easily extend the simple approach of paper beyond a single office location.  For larger organizations, however, manually tracking the number of emails back and forth that will be required can become just as logistically cumbersome as distributing and collecting paper.

Electronic Forms

For medium or large organizations, it is now common to create and use electronic forms rather than just paper or emails.  These are forms with defined fields that allow recipients to electronically “sign” the forms and then fill out any other requested information (e.g., preliminary custodian survey information).  Standard field entries make the aggregation and tracking of the responses much easier than it is with loose paper or emails.  These types of forms are most often created as Adobe PDF files or as Microsoft Excel files.  Each has advantages and disadvantages, but the current trend seems to be toward PDF forms, which are arguably easier to build and which look more like traditional paper forms to recipients.

Legal Hold Software & Technology

Purpose-Built Tools

Today, there are also a variety of purpose-built tools specifically for creating, distributing, and managing legal holds.  There are more than a dozen offerings of this type in the marketplace, and more are sure to appear as the industry continues to grow.  Some of these are standalone applications, some are SaaS solutions, and some are modules integrated into larger litigation management or eDiscovery software suites.  All of them provide a measure of automation and standardization for the creation, distribution, tracking, and refreshing activities, allowing an organization to centrally manage the numerous simultaneous holds common to large organizations (the median number of active matters for large corporations is 20).

What follows are descriptions of five leading solutions to orient you to the range of options available.  These descriptions are not endorsements or recommendations, as the right tool for a particular organization is a very fact-specific question.  The information below is drawn from an independent Forrester research report on legal hold tools:

  • Zapproved Legal Hold Pro
    Legal Hold Pro is popular SaaS offering that is focused specifically on legal holds.  It has features for creation, distribution, response tracking, and reminders.  The tool allows for the involvement of outside counsel or legal services providers in the process.  It can also be integrated with a separate collection tracking tool from Zapproved to track held materials through to collection.
  • kCura Relativity Legal Hold
    Relativity Legal Hold is an offering from the makers of the most popular document review platform for eDiscovery.  It is available as an on-premises installation or an SaaS offering from a legal services provider.  It includes features to identify custodians through integration with Active Directory, to send notifications, to track responses, to collect information from recipients, and to release holds, as well as “[r]eminders, escalations, and rules to generate digest versions of reminders for C-level executives.
  • Exterro Legal Hold
    Exterro Legal Hold is a robust solution offered as a component of an overall eDiscovery software suite, which is available as an SaaS solution or an on-premises installation.  It includes the ability to pre-create notice templates, survey forms, interview questions, and more.  Recipient information can be drawn from a variety of sources and historical recipient information can be searched.  APIs allow for connection to a variety of enterprise applications.
  • Thomson Reuters Concourse Legal Hold
    Thomson Reuters offers Concourse Legal Hold as a module of its overall Concourse legal management software suite.  The module enables the creation, distribution, and tracking of hold notices, as well as the automation of reminders.  “Workflow allows legal teams to create template processes or custom ones ad hoc.  Dashboards allow legal teams to monitor the progress of all pending activities, including holds.
  • Guidance Encase Legal Hold
    Encase Legal Hold is another robust solution offered as a module integrated into the end-to-end Encase eDiscovery platform.  The tool includes features for creating predefined templates and processes and for handling distribution, reminders, tracking, and reporting.  It also allows legal teams to monitor and manage, and it provides APIs for connection to a range of applications.

Upcoming in this Series

Next, in the final Part of this series, Privilege, Evolution, and Key Takeaways, we will review the question of privilege, a note on evolving technology, and key takeaways from this series.

About the Author

Matthew Verga

Director of Education

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible to diverse audiences. A fourteen-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design. He leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

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