eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: Is Email Still the Most Common Form of Requested ESI?


Email has historically been the most common form of requested electronically stored information (ESI), but that has changed, according to a survey performed by Symantec and reported in Law Technology News.

According to the article, Symantec’s survey, conducted this past June and July, included lawyers and technologists at 2,000 enterprises worldwide.  However, the article doesn’t indicate the total number of respondents or whether that’s the number of organizations receiving the survey or the number actually responding.

Regarding how frequently (percentage of situations requested) various types of ESI are requested during legal and regulatory processes, the survey yielded some surprising answers:

  • Files and Documents: 67 percent
  • Application and Database Records: 61 percent
  • Email: 58 percent
  • Microsoft SharePoint records: 51 percent
  • Messaging Formats (e.g., instant messaging, texts, and BlackBerry PIN messages): 44 percent
  • Social Media Data: 41 percent

Email requested in legal and regulatory processes just over half the time?  That’s more than surprising, that’s shocking!

Symantec’s survey also asked about implementation of a formal data retention policy, with 30 percent of responding companies indicating that they have discussed but have not implemented a policy and 14 percent indicating that they have no plans to implement a policy (44 percent total that have not implemented a policy).  Reasons for not doing so were as follows (respondents were allowed to pick multiple reasons):

  • No Need Identified: 41 percent
  • Cost: 38 percent
  • No Designated Employee (to implement the policy): 27 percent
  • Too Time Consuming: 26 percent
  • Lack of Expertise: 21 percent

Many of these companies may not feel compelled to implement a policy because they are not frequently in litigation nor are they in regulated industries.

So, what do you think?  Do the percentages above reflect your experience as to how frequently the different types of ESI are requested?  Does the email percentage seem significantly low?  In my experience, it does.  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.