Autonomy to offer first remote legal hold application

Desktop Legal Hold finds documents relevant to a litigation whether or not they have been deleted

On Monday, December 3, the first anniversary of changes to the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure (FRCP), Autonomy, an archiving and e-discovery company, announced Desktop Legal Hold, calling it an industry first.

The compliance and e-discovery application remotely enforces legal holds on documents stored on local, desktop, or laptop hard drives.

To date, almost all legal hold solutions focus on e-mail servers and network enterprise systems. Instead, Desktop Legal Hold addresses a number of major issues IT has with locating and preserving documents stored locally that are relevant to litigation.

Two of the foremost risks for any corporate legal department trying to recover relevant data from a desktop or laptop are spoliation and the protection of privacy rights of an individual.

Of the 105 cases heard this year that addressed e-discovery issues, in 24 percent of those cases, there was a sanction for some sort of bad act of document or data destruction, otherwise known as spoliation, according Kroll Ontrack, a computer forensics services company.

Typically, the only way to retrieve relevant data from a local hard drive would be for the legal department to send out a request to employees to hold and not delete or destroy certain documents in e-mail or other folders.

In a case heard this summer over a liability issue stemming from the September 11, 2003 attack on the World Trade Center, the court held Zurich American Insurance Company and its counsel liable for $1.25 million, finding that Zurich deleted an electronic version of an essential document.

The Autonomy software adds a small piece of code to a desktop or laptop that is administered from a central console. When a notification is sent to employees requesting a legal hold, the program searches laptops and desktops for all keyword and relevant concepts and words, and when it finds relevant data, it locks down the file in place. As soon as the user connects back to the network, the relevant data is uploaded.

Even if personal emails are deleted by the user, the program searches all empty spaces on a hard disk.

"If any documents have been deleted, Desktop Legal Hold applies the same search and hold to the empty spaces as it does to retrievable files," said Nicole Eagan, chief marketing officer at Autonomy.

At the same time, because it does not require imaging of hard drives, snapshots of folders, and remote spidering of desktops, nor does it require IT to look through hundreds of Microsoft PST (Personal Storage) files created in Outlook, in its search for relevant information, an employee’s privacy rights are protected, said Egan.

Desktop Legal Hold is part of Zantaz, an Autonomy company, and is shipping now.

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