Legal Hold 101: Manual Hold vs. In-Place Preservation

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Note: This 2-minute guide to manual hold vs. in-place preservation (IPP) in the legal hold process is part of our larger Legal Hold Playbook. You can download the full guide here

Sending a legal hold notice is just one piece of a company’s obligation when litigation is reasonably anticipated – data needs to be held as well.

To set yourself up for success, it’s crucial to know:

  • Where your data sits, and
  • Your company’s retention schedules

Company data governance policies are notoriously complex, and different data may be subject to different retention schedules. For example, Slack data may be held for only 30 days by default, while email data may be retained indefinitely. 

Related: How to Prepare for a Legal Hold: 5-Min Guide + Templates 📚 

Get familiar with your company’s policy – you’ll need to factor these retention schedules into your legal holds. 

Then, you’ll preserve data one of these ways:

Manual hold through IT  

Your IT department should be able to hold the necessary data – or augment existing retention policies – to ensure the preservation of necessary data. 

Send the list of custodians subject to the hold to your IT team. For each, include:

  • The custodian’s name
  • The custodian’s email
  • Data sources required
  • Relevant dates
  • Caveat: For the purposes of legal hold, you should consider holding all data for each custodian rather than restricting by date

Once IT confirms that these holds have been placed, ask for a return report you can add to your matter file to support your audit trail. 

💡Pro tip: Don’t forget about physical assets! Coordinate with IT to learn how your company manages laptops and other physical assets, including asset management and inventory tools like  Teqtivity and Oomnitza. 

Pay particular attention and have a documented workflow in place for managing outgoing employees that are on active legal holds. 

Automatic, in-place data preservation 

In-place preservation (IPP) is the process of preserving data where it lives (as opposed to making a copy of it and storing it in an archive). 

IPP is a best practice to minimize storage costs and to limit copying data that may live in storage environments under the control of third party vendors, not to mention access controls. 

For legal hold, IPP is the fastest way to meet your preservation compliance requirements.  

Many enterprise applications have built-in legal hold applications, including Google Vault, Microsoft 365, Slack, Dropbox, Box, and Code42. (These applications also offer modern APIs that allow you to automate creating holds and preserving data with a single click.)

Related: How to Collect Slack Data for Ediscovery and Hold 💡

💡 Pro tip: Make friends in IT

Absent a connected legal hold tool, you will need to work with the IT owner of each enterprise application to help with creating holds. Note that dependency on IT can delay your coming into compliance – i.e., your compliance will move as fast as your IT team is willing to support you

To maximize speed and success, note all data sources that offer APIs and in-place preservation applications. Then, make note of the names and contact information for the IT owner of each application. 

Need a template? Here’s a free one you can download and print. 🗓️

Reporting and auditing 

We cannot overstate the importance of an audit trail.

Matters are rarely stagnant. Develop an evaluation cycle for your cases at the matter level and at the overview level. You’ll want to be able to show your work in case your legal hold management is ever called into question. 

💡Pro tip: Manual data tracking and auditing can be intensive and prone to error. Consider using a tool like DISCO Hold that will programmatically manage this data log for you. 

Make data preservation simple with DISCO

Tired of manually updating spreadsheets of legal hold stakeholders and information sources? DISCO’s got you covered.

DISCO Hold is an easy-to-use enterprise legal hold platform that automates the manual work necessary to comply with preservation requirements – empowering legal teams to preserve data, notify custodians, track holds with a defensible audit trail, and collect data, all from a single interface.

Check out our full Legal Hold Playbook – or request a demo to see how DISCO can make your hold process fast and simple.

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