Ricoh eDiscovery

Why is it Important to Track Custodians?

Posted by Laura Clewley |2 minute read

Jan 21, 2020 1:01:23 PM


Imagine you’re working with a file that has a collection of over twenty custodians. In the midst of processing and culling the data, further information is found. If the custodian information had been tracked up to this point, it’s a quick and easy job to include the new documents. If the custodian information hasn’t been tracked, segregating specific custodians could be a timely process – especially if the collection is actively being processed by a team. Today we're sharing why it’s important to track custodians, along with the secret to guaranteeing they're tracked with every document review. 

What are data custodians?

In short, a “custodian of data” is who created and/or held the data. This could be the person who sent an email or the company whose server is hosting information.

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Why is it important to track custodians?  

When your day-to-day operations tend to deal with the smaller files, it can be easy to miss the big picture. That’s why when a larger file with multiple custodians is thrown your way, it can be a challenge to track.  

Tracking the custodian of every data set may seem like a lot of mundane work with little payoff, but it could end up being very important later. During collection, you may cast a large net to ensure all the data is captured properly. During processing, the culling starts. Next, review discussions begin. Being able to focus on key custodians to utilize analytics and other tools to assist with review can make a huge difference with the time the process will take.

In addition, there’s always the chance that further information could come to light once the collection is finished. For this reason, it’s essential to always hold each file to the same standard by tracking its information. This not only removes the possibility of having to spend a lot of time isolating specific custodians’ data sets, but it also can assist with review and meeting production specifications, even when unknown.

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How do you track custodians? 

Creating a protocol to track custodians may not occur to everyone, especially at the beginning of a collection. Usually, it’s after the fact we realize we should have been doing it all along. If you request that custodian fields are to be tracked, your team will generally be happy to adhere to the instructions.  

The only way to ensure that custodians will be tracked is by making it a standard for your organization. By making “track custodian information” a standard practice, the information for every piece of data will automatically be retained. Not only will this avoid the potential disaster of having to update the information after the fact, but it safeguards your organization from an increased cost that might not be in your clients’ budget.

Email data is fairly simple: generally, the sender of an email is the custodian. Server data, on the other hand, can be more complicated. The nice thing with review platforms is that fields can be mass-updated easily. So, if it’s a shared server location, I’ve seen some track the main drive, or something of significance.

If you have any questions about tracking custodians, be sure to get in touch with us today. Our team is happy to help you navigate your unique collection needs.

Topics: Tuesday's Tip, Laura Clewley


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