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Create an E-mail Retention and Purge Policy

July 1, 1998
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Related Topics: Technology and the Law, Policies and Procedures, Retention, Featured Article, Technology
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As more litigants look to a company’s e-mail system as a source of discovery, a company must learn to monitor its e-mail system in a manner that will minimize the potential for exposing itself to liability.

One of the important safeguards is to implement a specific document-retention policy and consistently follow the policy. Companies must find a medium between the "save-everything" approach and the "save-as-little-as-possible" approach.

The former makes retrieval of messages time-consuming and increases the risk that an opponent will discover damaging evidence. The latter approach prevents the company from retrieving messages that may actually minimize liability if litigation ensues. Further, companies must recognize that destroying, or failing to preserve e-mail messages, may raise a problem of spoliation of evidence. The initial inquiry is then: Does the data that’s lying around in the first place have business value or is it being kept just for the sake of keeping it?

SOURCE: Heidi L. McNeil, a partner with Phoenix-based Snell & Wilmer LLP.

Workforce, July 1998, Vol. 77, No. 7, p. 38.

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