New ACC Survey Report Shines a Light on Corporate Litigation Readiness for eDiscovery Collection: eDiscovery Trends

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Pagefreezer recently released a Collecting Online Data for eDiscovery & Litigation Readiness Report. The ACC survey report presents the results of a survey conducted in March 2021 of 211 in-house counsel with expertise in data retention and preservation, discovery, and litigation across 23 industries and 22 countries.  Here are a few highlights from the report.

The 32-page ACC survey report includes an assessment of IG maturity from the perspective of the legal department based on policies and practices related to data retention and preservation, discovery, and data record production. The ACC inquired specifically about data records resulting from seven diverse data sources, as follows:

  • Online Meetings (which include Zoom, Slack, Google Meet, Teams, Voice Recordings) and are present within 96.2% of responding organizations.
  • Cloud-based Documents (which include Office 365, G Suite, PDFs, etc.) and are present within 89.6% of responding organizations.
  • Internal Messaging (which include (Slack, Teams, etc.) and are present within 86.7% of responding organizations.
  • Website Content, which is present within 86.3% of responding organizations.
  • Cloud-Based Email Clients (which include Office 365, Gmail, etc.) and are present within 85.3% of responding organizations.
  • Social Media Content (which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and are present within 74.4% of responding organizations.
  • Text and Instant Messaging Apps (which include iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat, Signal, etc.) and are present within 40.3% of responding organizations.

Results are presented throughout the report for each specific data source and segmented by company size.  In response to the question “How mature is your organization’s information governance and retention strategies by the following data sources?”, cloud-based email clients was the source with the highest percentage of respondents that deployed tools to facilitate automated data retention at 19.8%.  That number grows to 35.1% when including the second highest level of information governance maturity (Enterprise-wide retention strategy documented, published and communicated).  Less than one-third of respondents considered themselves in the top two levels of maturity for all other data sources.  Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to do.

Based on responses like those, the ACC survey report identifies five key findings, as follows:

  1. Overall, most organizations’ IG programs are in the early or intermediate stage of development and are clearly still evolving. Content management is decentralized across business units in most organizations and very few have automated data retention processes.
  2. Requests for production are most often handled by turning the data over to third parties. However, built-in discovery capabilities are often used for cloud-based documents and email clients. Large organizations are more likely to use custom-built tools for production requests across data sources.
  3. There is high reliance on the IT department to produce records. Very few departments are able to produce records themselves quickly and easily. Even IT’s involvement is not without challenges.
  4. Most organizations plan on investing in IG improvements in the next year or have recently made an investment.
  5. Record retention is a high priority but there is a lack of budget and resources. The lack of time, available workforce, and budgetary constraints are the biggest barriers to more mature data retention and preservation processes.

The 32-page ACC survey report is available for download here.  The ACC is also conducting a webinar on Wednesday, July 21 at 2:00pm ET (right after our July EDRM monthly case law webinar, so no worries!).  😉

So, what do you think?  Are you surprised by the results of the ACC survey result?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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