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E-Discovery for Small Businesses

Your Business Computer Records are an Important Part of a Lawsuit Electronic Discovery in any Lawsuit Could be Very Expensive for all Parties

Paperless is now the norm. 99% of all information is now created and stored electronically. Everything we do in business and in personal life creates data – lots of data. And this data resides in places like your email servers, your laptop, your mobile phones, the cloud, in apps, on social media, in your watch or fitness tracker. All of this data creates problems for business owners, particularly when the business is involved in a lawsuit.

Most business owners never see the inside of a court room, but when it happens - and it could happen for any number of reasons – preparation is necessary to avoid pitfalls and running afoul of the complicated rules regarding evidence preservation and production of information. A good business lawyer understands these rules and help navigate the complex rules in business lawsuits.

George Bellas co-authors paper on "Proportionality" in Discovery

Most correspondence is now by e-mail, IM or texting. The most important information in the digital age are the records and files in the business computers and your personal computers. Emails, financials records, and other data could prove to be pivotal to your case. Customer lists are stored in your contact manager or somewhere else on your computers. So practically all of the business’s records and information are stored and retrieved electronically. Any or all of this information may need to be preserved in its original format - that is electronically - for use in a lawsuit as evidence to either prove your claim or to defend a lawsuit. The sheer volume of emails alone may account for a significant increase in the costs of a lawsuit since a company’s emails may be required to be produced and searched.

Larger businesses have document retention policies or document management policies which dictate when information should be retained and for how long. These policies outline the process for deleting or destroying certain information regularly. But the important part of these document management policies is that the destruction process must be suspended once it is suspected that the business may be involved in a lawsuit.

Small Business Owners are Vulnerable to E-Discovery Issues

Business owners, regardless of the size of the business, must take proactive measures to preserve all information about the subject matter of the lawsuit once they become aware of their involvement in a lawsuit. This is the role of a good Chicago Business Lawyer. The preservation of evidence – or the destruction or spoliation of evidence – could play a significant role in any lawsuit. Judges regularly punish parties who failed to take the necessary steps to preserve evidence.

George Bellas has been recognized nationally for his creative use of technology in lawsuits and has lectured extensively on what lawyers now refer to as “e-discovery.” George has served as a panelist at the prestigious Sedona Conference, lectured on the use of technology in the courtroom, lectured extensively to other lawyers about e-discovery, and currently serves on the Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program.

Lawyers Have Been Slow to Adapt to the New Technologies Required in Complex Litigation

Technology has changed the way lawyers deal with complex cases. Paper copies are no longer exchanged and the old ways of searching vast amounts of data has been replaced by Technology Assisted Review (“TAR”). When the federal rules were amended in 2006 to include specific provisions for dealing with e-discovery and ESI (“Electronically Stored Information”), George quickly recognized the importance of these changes to litigation and has been lecturing lawyers throughout the country on how to adapt their litigation strategies to these new rules and new technologies.

How to Survive E-Discovery

George has also lectured nationally to lawyers on the use of electronic discovery (e-discovery) and has also published a number of articles on e-discovery:

  • The Amendments to the Federal Rules: E-Discovery is the Focus,” Illinois State Bar Association, Trial Briefs, vol 61, no. 6, January 2016.
  • "Proportionality and E-Discovery Rules"
  • " The Illinois Duty to Preserve Evidence ", Illinois State Bar Association, Trial Briefs, vol. 58, no. 9, March 2013.
  • "Electronic Discovery: Maneuvering the New Federal Rules", December, 2010.
  • "Internet evidence: How to authenticate evidence from the Internet under the new Illinois Rules of Evidence," Illinois State Bar Association, Trial Briefs, January, 2011.
  • "Electronic Discovery: Maneuvering the New Federal Rules", December, 2010.
  • "Culling Data For Your Case. " American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Technology for the Litigation, Fall, 2010.
  • "A New Frontier: The Amended Rules of e-Discovery," Utah Trial Lawyers, December, 2006.
  • "Electronic Discovery: Wave Goodbye to Paper," Trial Journal, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Summer 2008.
  • "The New Frontier: The Amended Rules of e-Discovery," Trial Talk, Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, p. 13, December 2006.
  • "Using Electronic Discovery as a Weapon in an Auto Products Liability Case," Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Annual Meeting, 2006, Montreal, Canada.
  • "Boost your case with litigation support software", Trial Magazine, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, p. 18, January 2005.

George has applied his knowledge of the new rules of electronic discovery and technology to craft innovative solutions for Chicago business owners who are involved in litigation. George also applies his knowledge to obtain critical information from the other party in a lawsuit and find the facts in a case. George has consulted with other lawyers to assist them in obtaining information from the opponent’s computer records that can be used effectively in a lawsuit.

If your business becomes engaged in a lawsuit, consult with an experienced, savvy and knowledgeable Chicago Business Lawyer to help your deal with litigation effectively and to find innovative solutions to complex problems.

If you are a business owner and concerned about the cost of litigation and protecting your company’s records, call (847.823.9030 Ext: 219) or email (george@bellas-wachowski.com) George Bellas for a consultation.

Bellas and Wachowski
Experienced & Trusted Chicago Business Lawyers

15 North Northwest Highway
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068