Lawsuits against businesses are increasingly common, with companies facing rising scrutiny from consumers, regulators, and government agencies. Companies are at risk for charges of discrimination, harassment, wage violations, contract breaches, and many other liabilities.
Since lawsuits can come at any time, it’s necessary to form a robust litigation readiness strategy in order to be ready for any type of legal investigation or accusation you may face. Having a plan in place can make all the difference when trying to defend your organization in court.
Keep reading to learn what litigation readiness is, what it entails, and what you can do to build an effective and comprehensive plan that protects your business.
What Is Litigation Readiness?
Litigation readiness is a business strategy that prepares an organization to handle legal requests like lawsuits, audits, and investigations.
It’s important to keep in mind that litigation readiness varies from company to company. As such, it’s necessary to build a strategy that matches your organization’s unique needs.
Why Do You Need a Plan?
Businesses of all sizes are at risk for litigation. And for this reason, litigation readiness is important for organizations whether large and small. The more you prepare ahead of time, the easier it is to respond efficiently to litigation inquiries.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why companies need litigation readiness.
Companies face countless requests on a daily basis from customers, shareholders, employees, partners, and media agencies. With so much activity taking place, legal matters can often get lost in the shuffle.
Litigation readiness helps teams ensure that incoming legal matters receive the proper care and attention they deserve and move forward without delay. This also prevents work from piling up and gives companies the time they need to strategize and execute.
Litigation requests can be complex and overwhelming, especially for smaller organizations that lack the resources and experience to handle them.
By forming a comprehensive litigation readiness plan, you can train team members on how to respond to incoming requests. This reduces risk and ensures that team members respond appropriately at every step.
Identify Resource Constraints
Legal investigations and audits can place a tremendous burden on an organization. For example, they require time and attention from workers. They are also expensive and may require extra computing resources and security needs.
Through ongoing legal preparation and analysis, legal teams are able to keep tabs on their available resources and make accommodations when necessary—like hiring team members or obtaining computing support.
Legal matters can be very costly, as they involve countless hours of data extraction and analysis as well as communication and collaboration.
Planning ahead helps to avoid unnecessary errors. This, in turn, reduces rework and keeps costs low. At the same time, it also enables you to identify opportunities to cut costs and save additional money.
Improve Over Time
Another benefit of litigation readiness is it lets legal teams to step back and analyze their processes to identify opportunities for improvement.
Over time, this enables legal teams to operate with greater speed, efficiency, and accuracy—which results in getting better legal outcomes.
What Does a Litigation Readiness Plan Entail?
It helps to approach litigation readiness from a project management perspective. In other words, you’ll want to establish leadership for the initiative, identify goals, and implement project tracking and communication mechanisms to ensure optimal results.
With this in mind, here are some of the core aspects of litigation readiness.
Legal custodians are responsible for aggregating, storing, and managing data. There are often many different data custodians within a company, with varying roles and responsibilities. For example, a system administrator may have exclusive access to an application or dataset, or an IT member may control access to company emails.
When preparing for litigation, it’s necessary to keep tabs on evolving data custodian roles. This way, legal teams always know who to go to for information requests, which saves considerable time.
Discover, Gather, and Preserve ESI
In addition to identifying data custodians, you also want to get a sense of where data lives across the organization. In other words, this requires mapping data in various servers, clouds, and workstations.
What's more, it’s a good idea to work with IT to agree on proper data extraction and preservation strategies to ensure electronically stored information (ESI) remains legally defensible in court.
Form Legal Hold Procedures
A legal hold is a notification that a legal team sends to employees informing them to preserve information for an upcoming trial. For example, a legal team may issue a hold instructing employees not to delete emails or social media posts.
When building a litigation readiness plan, it’s a good idea to set policies that outline when legal teams should issue holds and how they should execute them. By establishing best practices, you can ensure legal holds move forward properly and reach the right individuals.
Best Practices for Litigation Readiness
When forming litigation readiness strategies, keep these things in mind to guarantee optimal results.
Plan in Advance
It can take months to build and execute a proper litigation readiness strategy. That being the case, you’ll want to plan accordingly and carve out the appropriate time that your organization needs to build a plan.
Create a Task Force
You should also consider forming a task force to identify emerging litigation needs, develop a strategy, and test overall litigation readiness. The task force should contain employees from the legal team and potentially other departments.
Communicate With Different Departments
Litigation impacts an entire organization—not just legal. As such, it’s necessary to work with other departments and stakeholders like IT, HR, and communications, among others.
It’s a good idea to round up department heads early on in the process to explain why you’re forming a litigation readiness plan in the first place and discover potential opportunities and barriers. This reduces risk, increases buy-in, and expedites the entire legal process.
Track the eDiscovery Providers You Are Using
Legal teams often work with various eDiscovery providers who assist with ESI management tasks. With so many different in-house solutions, it’s easy to lose track of which vendors you are using.
To avoid complications, consider keeping a running list of vendors or solutions along with a detailed description of what each provider handles and who they communicate with.
Consider eDiscovery Training
When engaging in litigation readiness, you should try to get a sense of your team’s overall knowledge and abilities regarding eDiscovery. You’ll want to determine their ability to locate, manage, extract, and produce information for use in court.
This is a good opportunity to engage in eDiscovery training and bring your team up to date with shifting trends, policies, and requirements.
Venio Can Help Get Your Firm Up to Speed
As you go through the litigation readiness process, this is the time to do a gut check and make sure you have the right software and supporting legal services in place to handle legal matters from end to end.
To this end, Venio Systems offers a purpose-built eDiscovery platform that centralizes data management and expedites production. This platform saves time, reduces risk, and improves communication during eDiscovery.
In addition, Venio also connects businesses to partnering legal service providers who specialize in helping businesses form litigation readiness plans.
To experience Venio Systems in action and learn more about how it can transform your legal operations, schedule a demo today.
About the Author
Justin Reynolds & Akshita Singhal
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling. This post was reviewed and published by Akshita, Sr. Marketing Manager at Venio.