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Information governance

Technology for Lawyers

Published: June 27, 2014

There’s a phrase for you. It’s about a year old, and fits right in with the now-popular “big data” meme.

Not that long ago, many lawyers’ offices were filled from floor to ceiling with file boxes. Go into someone’s office to negotiate, and some of the boxes would open, spilling out thousands of printed pages. Then the lawyers would sit around a conference table stacked high with paperwork, and get to work.

Not any more, to quote Inspector Clouseau. Now, it is all invisible, stored in the form of digital bits and bytes. And nobody knows how much there is.


There is so much data out there that no one can track it all. Even in a small office, it adds up and adds up, and you don’t know what it is because you can’t see it. It isn’t stacked on the floor or in a file room.

But, in order to function as a business, somebody is going to have to, at least, track all of your data before it gets even more out of control. Enter “information governance.”

Information governance is, to quote one commentator, “the rules and framework for managing all of a law firm's electronic data and documents, including material produced in discovery, as well as legal files and correspondence.”

IG, as it shall henceforth be known, now has its own professional association—the Information Governance Initiative (www.iginitiative.com), a consortium of organizations/ providers dedicated to advancing IG.

Here are some tips on IG, but you should start doing your own footwork on this right about now.

First, you can bring in the pros. Some IG vendors include Recall, Nuix, IBM, and HP. There are more resources on the IGI site.

There are four main tasks to accomplish through the IG process. These are:

1. Map where the data is stored;

2. Determine how the data is being managed;

3. Determine data preservation methodology; and

4. Create forensically sound data collection methods.

This is the fundamental warning inherent in the new world of IG: Don’t think that your data is being managed professionally, properly, intelligently, or even ethically, just because you’re capable of creating and printing the documents that you need. You really need to take a long, close look at how all that data is being managed.