The occasional dispute is fairly common when it comes to large-scale construction projects. While not every disagreement between construction companies and other entities ends in litigation, it’s a definite possibility.
If you do find yourself working alongside your legal team preparing for mediation or heading to court, having to produce electronic documentation, which must then be carefully sifted through for relevant details, can be costly.
Advances in technology and eDiscovery solutions providers like CloudNine can help construction litigants cut down on these costs, maximize efficiency, and help ensure a more favorable outcome.
However, there is only so much an eDiscovery solution provider can do if organization and data retention policies are absent or poorly implemented.
Construction Litigants Can Reduce Costs on eDiscovery. Here’s How:
Designate a Single Individual to Take Ownership of the Process
Most project communications are seen by multiple people throughout the design and construction process, and if no one person takes responsibility for collecting and producing documents in the event of litigation, document review can be frustrating, complicated, and expensive.
Designate a single individual to have the primary responsibility for interactions with your lawyer. They should understand exactly how your company’s information technology system works, and be able to assist with the locale of electronically-stored information (or ESI) and its collection if needed.
In many larger companies, the IT manager takes on this role, but sometimes smaller companies may need to designate a different individual.
Prioritize Organization Before Implementation
Without proper organization, everything else will essentially be moot. Even one single project could result in thousands of pages of relevant documentation in electronic information alone.
All documents relating to a single project should be stored in a single location on a protected server (either an internal server, or with a company who provides data document storage services). It should be accessible as needed for those involved with the project, but with measures in place to prevent unauthorized deletion or modifications.
All paper documentation should be scanned and organized within this project server to ensure that nothing is missing. In case of litigation, any missing documentation could negatively impact your ability to defend your case, or potentially result in spoliation accusations.
Separate folders should be created for each category of project documentation:
- change orders
- transcripts of phone calls or online meetings
- anything else relevant to the project
With this organization in place, documents needed for litigation can generally be collected by copying the project file. Otherwise, you’ll end up bogged down in searching out individual documents in a thousand different places.
Be Sure to Focus on Email Organization
Too many construction companies think of email as simply personal communication, too casual to require saving. The truth, however, is quite the opposite. In the event of litigation, email could be of serious significance, and you may find yourself needing to crawl through thousands of emails to find relevant information!
eDiscovery service providers like CloudNine, a company Legal Eagle is proud to partner with, can help mitigate this problem by culling or filtering the data. In some cases, a review load of 400,000 documents could be cut down by more than 100,000 documents nearly instantly.
That’s 100,000 documents your lawyer will not be forced to sift through during the review process, and 100,000 documents you won’t find yourself wasting time trying to go through on your own.
We recommend maintaining email folders in your inbox that segment project-related emails to keep them organized. This way, even before filtering takes place, you’ll be in a good position to know exactly what emails need to be considered during potential litigation.
What’s Your Retention Policy?
Does your company have a document retention policy in place? If not, it’s essential to establish one immediately! The upside to modern storage capabilities is that companies generally aren’t required to maintain any specific documents or files indefinitely, keeping storage costs lower than they would be otherwise.
You’ll need a policy that is specifically designed for your company’s needs, maintaining different policies for different types of documentation under one umbrella.
When drafting a company-wide retention policy, you’ll likely want to consult with legal counsel, as they can advise from a position of experience on legal requirements for record preservation.
Make Sure Every Employee Follows the Policy Consistently
This is more of an internal personnel matter, but it is definitely essential to successfully maintaining your policies and procedures!
All employees should be knowledgeable about your retention policy, and following that policy should be absolutely mandatory for everyone from interns up through the CEO.
If any member of your team is not consistently following your policies, it could lead to serious hikes in cost later (or even legal problems) if their documents are not well-organized.
Have the earlier-mentioned “point” person speak with all employees if possible, fully informing them of what exactly their responsibilities are when it comes to document organization. If your company is too large for this, empower a team of informed individuals to make sure every employee is fully informed.
eDiscovery Can Be Time-Consuming and Overwhelming… But It Doesn’t Have To Be.
One of the most costly aspects of construction law can be the time spent laboriously reviewing each and every project document to locate details relevant to a case, especially when that information is a mix of electronically-stored and paper or is poorly organized.
With eDiscovery solution providers like CloudNine, you can cut costs and time through processing and indexing. Working with a local litigation support specialist like Legal Eagle means you’ll receive local support tailored to your situation.
Learn more about what the process entails and how Legal Eagle can help you with eDiscovery in Greenville, South Carolina, and throughout our local communities by giving us a call at (864) 467-1373 or contacting us online at any time.