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O365 Webinar: Legal Hold Limitations

Are there any potential risks to using the native litigation hold and/or place hold features in Office 365?

Are there any potential risks to using the native litigation hold and/or place hold features in Office 365?

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.

There are many issues to consider when deciding whether O365 will meet your legal hold obligations.  The volume of matters that you have in any given year, the average number of custodians per matter, the average volume of data per matter to be placed on hold and the overall amount generally in controversy.  If you have pretty basic, very limited requirements, O365 may meet your needs.  You might want to consider…It has been generally recommended that a legal hold in O365 be created at the custodian level (it’s also easier to do). The custodian’s entire box is placed on hold for the duration of the matter. This inherently results in non-responsive data being held for the life of the matter. In turn, this increases risk of being required to produce such data in future matters as well as increasing costs associated with storage. O365 does, however, now offer a “query-based” preservation process which enables specific documents to be put on hold; however, they are still limited to pre-selected custodian mailboxes, making global ECA and enterprise scalability nearly impossible.

This, in turn, leads to the following issues:

  • Legal holds have a limited integration with rudimentary records management policies.
  • Litigation holds on mailboxes must be managed by IT, using a command line interface or the Exchange Administration Center. Non-IT legal users require assistance in implementing holds.

These alone may not seem like particularly dire issues; however, for an organization facing litigation regularly, these can add up to be major impediments.

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.