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Businesses are ill-prepared for e-discovery, warn lawyers

Cliff Saran

In-house lawyers are concerned that their businesses are unable to respond to legal demands to retrieve electronic documents, a survey of lawyers at 200 global companies reveals.

The KPMG Forensic and Harris Interactive survey found that 38% of lawyers surveyed said that it would be difficult to retrieve data in their organisation, potentially exposing their firms to high costs or reputational damage in the event of a legal dispute.

"Companies have to deal with a mind-bogglingly large amount of data being generated every day, which not only has to be stored but made searchable and retrievable in the future," said Paul Tombleson, head of forensic technology at KPMG Forensic in the UK.

"Storing and searching large volumes of data, often across borders and across different legacy IT systems, continues to be a major challenge for many companies. Whilst this might seem like an IT issue, when an investigation arises, it can become an urgent reputational and financial one," he said.

Half of the lawyers surveyed said they were concerned about the legal department's ability to find data, and nearly 40% admit it would be difficult to retrieve relevant data in the event of a regulatory investigation or major litigation.

Some 21% of legal departments had never been consulted by their IT departments about changes in storage capabilities within the organisation and 25% were "rarely or never" consulted about the adoption of new technologies for dealing with electronic evidence for e-discovery.

Many said that software to manage data and e-discovery was hard to find.

The lawyers said they faced future challenges with electronic information management due to the growth in data, data security, increased computerisation and data access.

Nineteen per cent said they were unsure that IT could help, and a further 10% did not see any improvements or opportunities for the future.


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