“Pillsbury Winthrop Faces E-Mail Pileup”

Why am I not surprised to read this: "[T]he challenge was getting lawyers to adapt."

"The exponential growth of e-mail for client-related exchanges has increased the potential for knowledge management and records management breakdowns. Today’s information is spread out in personal inboxes that can’t be easily accessed, leveraged, protected and properly stored. When e-mail that should be part of the client/matter file sits in an e-mail inbox — an unmanaged repository — chances are that the knowledge contained in the e-mail may never be harnessed or, worse yet, could be lost or deleted. Content that constitutes a record may never be properly declared as a record.

"Allowing e-mail to reside in attorney inboxes is a huge client service and risk management issue. E-mail systems are not storage tools; they were not designed as large capacity repositories. There are significant costs associated with maintaining large collections of e-mail data live, as well as resource expenditures spent searching through volumes of uncoded data (e.g., in response to a discovery request).

"At Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman our biggest hotspot is ensuring complete documentation and preservation for each matter. Indeed, two of the biggest risk culprits we faced were e-mail inboxes, and inbound and outbound lateral attorneys. PW has 900 lawyers in 15 locations, and we have particular expertise in capital markets, energy and technology. In June 2004, our 26-member professional responsibility committee, lead by Ronald Van Buskirk, recognized the importance of getting e-mail out of inboxes and into a managed system. So we established an electronic file subcommittee, comprised of five partners and three executives from the operations group, the IT group and the records department."

Very helpful description of the new email system & training are provided in the body of this article by Tanya Garig, conflicts, new business, & firmwide records manager at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, based in San Francisco.