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Unstructured Data: 3 Tips for Mitigating Legal Risk

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We can hear you now: "What the hell is unstructured data?" Basically, it's any data that's not in a database. Think email, documents on a shared drive, social media, info on mobile devices -- you know, just 90% of the data out in the universe according to IDC.

Even scarier, according to IDC, unstructured data is growing at a rate of 50% per year. Yikes.

Why should you care? You're a hot shot attorney. Here's why: If your company, or a company you represent, is involved in litigation, guess who gets to go through all those files and pay for discovery? Not so cocky anymore, huh?

Like much of what you already do, whether it's negotiating deals, or developing litigation strategy, you must analyze the risk involved and determine what amount of risk is acceptable for your company, client or your own firm. The best way to minimize risk, is to develop a risk management approach that uses analytics, according to Image & Data Manager.

There are three ways to help minimize your company's, or firm's, risk as it relates to its unstructured data.

1. Categorize Data

Learn to spot the different value propositions different types of data will hold for your company, or client. Some value propositions include archival/historical, business, litigation, and compliance, according to Image & Data Manager.

2. Use Software (and Experts)

Don't think you'll find an intern somewhere to go through each file one-by-one. Consider purchasing "multidimensional modeling software to develop risk models that enable companies to manage this complex process with a high degree of confidence," suggests IDM.

3. Develop and Review Company Policies

To guard against future litigation, and possible claims by opposing counsel alleging "spoliation," develop and review company policies regarding data retention and data deletion.

The amount of data that your company, or firm, may potentially have to review in the event of litigation is staggering. While a project like harnessing unstructured data seems overwhelming now, imagine how challenging that will be amidst the specter of impending litigation. Take the Boy Scouts' advice and "be prepared."

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