A recent article by Inside Counsel, A Matter of Management, Part I, calls attention to a challenge being faced by legal teams around the world, especially those that do business in multiple jurisdictions: how do you balance the requirement to comply with disparate record retention policies, while minimizing risk related to e-discovery? Walking the balancing act between these competing requirements requires a sound strategy and a high degree of automation.
The article references the more than 20,000 regulations world-wide that impact record retention policies. Keeping these straight and applying them consistently in your organization requires two important capabilities:
First, you must understand all of the relevant obligations that are imposed on your business based on where it operates. Leading organizations have a robust library of such obligations, with well-defined translations to operational record-keeping requirements, as well as documentation of the controls which should be in place to ensure compliance. In addition, many companies are starting to invest in the ability to streamline the intake of regulatory changes impacting their record-retention policies, and the workflow around analyzing them, developing a legal recommendation (e.g. a change in the library of obligations), and ensuring its implementation.
Second, you must also be able to understand in which parts of your (potentially far-flung) operations each of these obligations applies. Obligations flow from national governments, state and local entities, and even from standards bodies and contracts. Keeping track of which obligations derive from which source is Step 1 in ensuring compliance. Step 2 revolves around making sure that each obligation is applied only to the part of the organization that it affects. Mapping obligations to your lines of business, your products, and even your processes can ensure that you can comply only where you must, and that you don’t inadvertently extend e-discovery risk beyond where it needs to be incurred.
Here at Mitratech, we are proud that many of our leading client legal departments are using our solutions to meet these challenges, helping to make their Office of the General Counsel the best-run function in their respective companies.