Management observations from an award-winning litigation-hold dashboard

Kraft Foods Global won the 2008 Legal Technology News award for the most innovative in-house use of technology. As described in Legal Tech. News, March 2008 at 31, a senior litigation lawyer teamed up with a director of records management as well as the company’s IT department. That was a sensible trio, as many times a multi-disciplinary team, with a lawyer on it, is necessary to accomplish a company-wide task (See my post of Jan. 4, 2006: virtual teams; Jan. 30, 2006: Blue Cross’s teams; Aug. 28, 2006: an attack on project teams; and Aug. 16, 2006: end-to-end process for contract management.).

The team turned its attention to litigation hold orders (See my posts of Feb. 6, 2007: PSS Systems for litigation hold management; and March 19, 2006: nuts and bolts of hold requests.). Having decided that the software available from commercial vendors for that purpose focuses too much on the in-house lawyer, not the employee or record owner, Kraft decided to build its own system (See my posts of Jan. 30, 2006: customized patent software; Feb. 12, 2006: US Army Claims Services’ bespoke package; Sept. 5, 2005: a Lotus Notes application; Dec. 5, 2005: Thomas Miller & Co. and its OASIS customized software; and May 23, 2007: disadvantages of customized software.). “It was a huge undertaking, and required approximately three months to fully develop, and many additional months of testing.”

The team thoughtfully and deliberately concentrated on creating a system that would be based on the employees as record owners. As part of the application, its Legal Hold Dashboard sends targeted hold notices to employees and requests that they verify receipt. Lawyers generate hold notices from templates and receive alerts if they haven’t received a response from the custodian. The dashboard notifies employees when the hold is lifted and sends quarterly automatic reminders on all holds.

Part of the rollout was that the team created instruction materials and training. All new technology in law departments deserves sufficient training and support (See my post of Aug. 5, 2007: technology training delivered as needed.). The Legal Hold Dashboard complements to other Kraft resources: the Retention Guideline Dashboard and the Compliance Dashboard.

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