Clearwell (news, site) continued to build its e-Discovery platform this week with the release of a legal hold module that adds an automated hold processes to the platform, giving enterprises scalable, repeatable workflows that will track and manage all legal hold notices.

This new module will have considerable reach across even legacy systems other than Clearwell’s software after its recent extension of the e-Discovery platform to most enterprise content management systems using EntropySoft (news, site) connectors.

Now that is something that is really going to be useful given that since beginning of 2010 of the 230 court  cases where enterprises were fined for not complying with legal hold obligations, the most frequent problem was failure to preserve data.

Legal Hold Regulations

For the companies that were fined at the lower end of the scale the US$ 250 slap on wrist probably wasn’t too bad, but at the upper end of the fines-scale where one company was fined nearly US$ 9 million, it probably hurt quite a lot. Ouch!

However, there is no real need for this to happen as US law appears to be quite clear on this matter. Without getting legal about it, in the Zubulake v. UBS Warburg case as early as 2003 the courts say that you have to keep data.

The Duke Law Journal has interpreted this as meaning that when “litigation is reasonably anticipated,” companies must institute a legal hold, which includes notifying employees of their duty to preserve data.

Clearwell’s Legal Hold

And this is where Clearwell is hoping to place this new module. While the process of legal hold has to a large extent been done manually using emails and spreadsheets, it is not always 100% accurate and can end up with errors and those hefty fines again.

The legal hold module, however, automates that process by implementing scalable workflows that enable users to track the legal hold notices. Used in conjunction with the e-Discovery platform, Clearwell is offering enterprises an end-to-end e-Discovery solution with all the bells and whistles. Amongst the new capabilities are:

  • Hold Notices: Notices can be sent to system administrators automatically or scheduled for delivery in certain circumstances.
  • Notice Library: Notices can be held as templates for reuse.
  • Auto-reminders: Automatic reminder document administrator.
  • Auto-escalations: Escalation email notices can be scheduled for delivery to a custodian’s manager if a custodian is not responsive, simplifying the legal hold process while maximizing compliance.
  • Custodian Portal: Enterprises have access to individual portals that summarize their active, pending and released holds in a single view.
  • Audit Report: Every legal hold action, such as hold notice, response, confirmation, escalation and release, is tracked.

In-House e-Discovery

With many companies looking at the possibility of moving their e-Discovery in-house, modules like this one, and other similar modules from vendors like Autonomy or Recommind are going to make the whole idea a lot more attractive.

However, regulations around e-Discovery and legal hold will in the future become increasingly stringent and it still has to be seen how many companies do finally go the in-house route.

That said, with a market that is bursting with e-Discovery contenders it is unlikely that this is the last visit we’ll be taking to Clearwell’s e-Discovery platform.