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Legal Holds for M365 Data: A Better Way to Preserve ESI

by Petra Pasternak

With litigation on the horizon, the last thing you want is to worry that key data in Microsoft 365 is not preserved. You also want to avoid toggling between multiple tools to track your preservations, custodian acknowledgements, and collected data. And you certainly don’t want to manage the litigation hold process – potentially for years – using emails and spreadsheets. 

Legacy methods and fragmented tools waste valuable time and increase the likelihood of mistakes – putting successful outcomes in jeopardy. Thankfully, with the right tools in place, those worries belong in the rear-view mirror. 

Today’s technology solutions let users handle the full legal holds process with much more ease, starting with M365 data preservation-in-place. What’s more, innovative teams are embracing new approaches to the entire litigation and investigation life cycle. Working from a single discovery platform, they’re able to automate key steps not just for legal holds, but for everything from collections to data culling, and from review to production, as a matter unfolds.


Leveraging Advanced Ediscovery Technology to Rationalize Litigation Holds Workflows

Preservation is where it all starts. Legal holds ensure that if electronically stored data is required for litigation or an investigation, it is not destroyed, deleted, or otherwise compromised. 

Many legal teams still use Microsoft Purview or other point solutions to create and manage legal holds, before moving into other tools for subsequent phases, such as review and trial prep. This is inefficient, and increases the likelihood of error. 

With modern discovery software, teams can manage the full legal holds process – from creation and tracking to release – directly from one unified platform. Rather than having to use a series of different tools for identifying custodians, notifying them of legal holds, preserving their data, releasing holds, and collecting data, today’s teams automate these key steps to scale the process. 

Everlaw’s integration with Microsoft Purview’s data repository, for instance, allows users to set up a Microsoft 365 data hold directly in Everlaw’s legal hold system. There is no need to move between M365 and other tools to manage holds from there.

Advanced legal technology enables today’s legal professionals to:

  • Securely preserve M365 data through Everlaw, without ever requiring users to visit Microsoft Purview

  • Set up and deploy legal hold notifications quickly and easily

  • Schedule automatic reminders and updates to custodians

  • Automatically renotify unresponsive custodians, and automatically alert managers when escalation is required 

  • Leverage robust tracking and reporting on holds and individual custodians

Through automated custodian acknowledgment tracking, reminders, and escalations to managers, legal teams avoid wasting time on manual work – and sidestep the human error that comes with using spreadsheets or email.

With the right technology, legal teams can establish a robust and defensible process to mitigate legal hold risks. And then some.

To ensure that data preservation is legally sound, forward-looking legal teams use a centralized platform that keeps information in one place and all stakeholders informed. The solution enables real-time updates, easy access for relevant parties, and seamless integration with the company’s existing systems. This lets all parties stay organized, efficiently tracking activities and ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.

What’s more, users can smoothly transition to data gathering, culling, analysis, review, and production as needed – all in one centralized place. The ability to invite internal teams and outside counsel, and any other third parties, into the platform to collaborate, in real time, increases efficiency and security. Data never has to leave the organization, yet the legal team retains visibility and insight into progress and quality.  

Put simply: modern tools allow legal professionals to maximize their control – over their company’s data, its security, and the costs associated with the discovery process – by handling all stages of litigation and investigations within a single unified platform.