Interview

Retention policy implementation best practices

Editorial staff
The law firm I currently work at has asked me to implement a retention policy for our records department. This project will also include email retention. Do you have any suggestions on questions to ask when I meet with consultants?
Since you work for a law firm, I assume that you already have the policy in place and you are responsible for implementing products to enforce the policy. That may be a bad assumption, so let's review what that policy should look like. Now I'm not a lawyer, so any mission-critical policy (like record retention) should be jointly developed with either your internal or external legal counsel to make sure it adheres to all industry guidelines and/or regulatory requirements.

In your policy, you should define what type of data needs to be retained and for how long. You need to specifically illustrate how the data will be retained -- what kind of media, off-site storage, with what data protection – especially for sensitive data. Discussing specific technologies isn't necessary since technology changes often, but you need to be as distinct as possible. Specifying how and when data will be destroyed is also important.

Relative to questions for consultants, you want to focus on a few critical areas relative to retention:

  • Data sources – How easy is it to pump data into an archiving system? Can it take information from all of your data sources automatically, or is it a manual process?
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