This past week, we held another highly successful Mini-Conference on Preservation Excellence on June 19 in Houston, Texas (PREX-TX).  The half-day session focused on industry trends and best practices when it comes to data preservation and legal holds, and was led by two outstanding CLE program moderators, the Hon. Ron Hedges (former U.S. Magistrate Judge from New Jersey) and Craig Ball (Craig D. Ball, PC).

Panelists featured industry veterans and ediscovery practitioners that included Dawn Radcliffe (TransCanada Pipelines), Mary Stich (Rackspace Hosting), Robert Levy (Exxon Mobil Corporation), Eric Sedwick (Frost Bank) and Greg Anderson (Norton Rose Fulbright, LLP).  The judicial panel featured the Hon. Xavier Rodriguez (US District Judge, W. D. of Texas) and Hon. Nancy Johnson (US Magistrate, S. D. of Texas).

The mini-conference began with a look at fostering a culture of compliance , discussing proactive approaches to better prepare an organization for responding to a preservation obligation.  Panelists shared their experiences with developing policies and playbooks, educating employees, and how records retention practices can help mitigate preservation risk.

The second panel again took up the challenges of emerging data sources and new communication technologies with “Preserving Wild Data.” This session honed in on why BYOD and social media must become a critical element of an organization’s ediscovery planning, techniques for preserving data on personal devices, and approaches for dealing with the blurring of personal and business communications.

The third session of the afternoon was all about “Defending Preservation ,” with panelists sharing their thoughts about preparing for and responding when things go wrong, the challenges of balancing client advocacy and the duty for candor, and the critical need for timely investigation and disclosure.

The conference concluded with the Judicial Panel, where Judges Rodriguez and Johnson reflected on the current trends in data preservation, preparing for and presenting motions to compel, dealing with uncooperative counsel and spoliation cases, and thoughts on the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules to harmonize expectations for reasonableness and good faith.

As with previous PREX conferences, the Houston event received high marks.  Attendees came away with a heightened awareness of evolving preservation challenges and practical approaches to minimizing their risk and cost.

These discussions illustrated some of the challenges facing in-house legal teams with regard to data preservation. We are working on incorporating these topics and developing them further when we next convene at the 2013 Conference on Preservation Excellence in Portland next September.




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