Information Governance

O365 Webinar: eDiscovery for the Large Enterprise

Are the built-in eDiscovery features of O365 robust enough for a large enterprise? Why or why not?

Are the built-in eDiscovery features of O365 robust enough for a large enterprise? Why or why not?

As a follow-up to the recent Microsoft Office 365 governance webinar we hosted with PwC, we’re answering some of the audience questions we got during the live event. For more question and answers about Office 365, click here for our other posts.

The size of the organization can be a factor for O365 efficacy, but not necessarily. There are several variables that need to be examined:

  • The volume of data that may be subject to the eDiscovery process
  • The number of matters that are on-going at any time
  • The number of repetitive/serial custodians whose data is sought on a regular basis

Generally, the higher the answer for each question, the more likely it is that conducting eDiscovery natively with O365 might not be sufficient. The discovery abilities in O365 were not originally designed to be extremely granular. Hence, an organization facing a lot of litigation – especially multiple cases at once – will find the following problems:

  • It is impossible to assign items to multiple existing cases. Legal hold is binary: the data is either on hold or not. There is no annotation or classification based on what case an item is associated with.
  • Legal functions are essentially limited to identification and preservation stages of the EDRM. All other steps, such as review and analysis (and search of non-Exchange data) is often conducted elsewhere, with other tools -- thus creating silos.
  • Limited search scope and speeds hinder early case assessment (ECA), causing downstream processing to suffer in quality, with a “garbage in, garbage out” effect for analysis and review.
  • Review functionality for large volumes is minimal: third-party tools are common.
  • Limited capabilities for hold notifications, tracking, custodian acknowledgement, and other data collection.
  • Issues surrounding former employee data and potential costs associated with the closing of the mailbox account.
  • Legal holds are based on date of creation not date of execution of the hold. This may cause confusion and data subject to hold inadvertently being purged.
  • Search functionality is limited in scope and detail, with few options beyond keywords and Boolean operators. Large lists (>5000 characters) may error out.

So, to make a really long answer really short: organization size isn’t the only reason that Office 365 might not be practical for eDiscovery. However, larger organizations typically do tend to have more frequent litigation, larger volumes of data, and more custodians. This, in turn, usually necessitates more advanced eDiscovery functionality.

To evaluate whether O365 is right for your eDiscovery needs, you need to first have a deep understanding of your own data environment. Before you ask questions of a vendor, be sure to ask questions about yourself!

Linda G. Sharp, Esq., MBA, is the Associate General Counsel for ZL Technologies. Her responsibilities include corporate legal matters and related legal product initiatives. Prior to joining ZL, Linda consulted with Fortune 500 companies and Top 200 law firms on federal investigations and large litigation matters. Linda writes and speaks regularly on the subjects of eDiscovery, records management and information governance. Linda is an expert in her field, with membership in the OLP Advisory Board, and Chair position with the AC C New to In-House Committee.