Attorneys have a legal duty to preserve evidence, both physical and digital, and electronic documents present a new set of opportunities when it comes to avoiding the spoliation of evidence.
Spoliation of evidence occurs any time there is reckless or intentional destruction, alteration, or withholding of evidence. However, it can also be the result of negligence. Attorneys need to keep documents organized, secure, and accessible to avoid this happening. It is important that attorneys are not struggling to find documents during legal discovery, losing valuable time that could be spent working on a case.
Consequences for evidence spoliation can be substantial, and result in penalties and sanctions on the offender. Depending on circumstances, spoliation can result in what is called “spoliation inference,” when courts instruct the jury to assume the lost evidence would have been unfavorable to the spoliator. Some courts require showing intent before they employ “spoliation inference” but some find negligence sufficient. This presents a problem when convoluted and confusing electronic filing systems result in missing documents. Courts may also stop a spoliator from calling an expert or other testimony that is related to the missing documents or inflict monetary sanctions against the spoliator.
In the most egregious cases, spoliation can even lead to a default judgment or the dismissal of a case. That is why attorneys cannot leave their legal duty to preserve up to confusing and limited software systems. Evidence of reasonable attempts to comply with the law can result in less-harmful penalties even when spoliation occurs. According to InsideCounsel.com, Cloud service providers and software providers can help prove that good faith attempts were made to preserve files.
A party can receive a spoliation letter instructing them to preserve documents at any time, and attorneys cannot risk losing track of files. In the age of computers, preserving documents can be more difficult than ever due to there being so many formats, programs, and file types to loose information in. Modern spoliation letters may call for the preservation of all text files, presentation files, financial data, spreadsheets, internet history records, databases, calendars, and more. With modern computers, it can be difficult to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks when updating software or transferring files.
Computers have helped streamline many tasks, but with the options provided by computers, it is difficult to create a streamlined, controlled file system. This may result in documents getting lost in the shuffle, which can be the difference between winning or losing a case. Programs like Google Drive and Dropbox can only do so much when it comes to helping organize and save your documents. That is why a file management system can be a huge asset when it comes to organizing and backing up files and data.
To fulfill the legal duty to preserve documents, attorneys need to use a platform they can trust. eFileCabinet has been in business for more than a decade, aiding professionals in industries that range from human resources and healthcare to transportation and property management. eFileCabinet makes sure that documents are tucked away safely and are easily accessible. With full text search, eFileCabinet allows users to search for keywords inside documents. That way documents are easily retrievable even if users forget file names and locations.
Scanning and Storing
Moving to a paperless office can seem like a daunting task, but eFileCabinet tries to make it as easy as possible with its ScanSnap feature, which helps users easily scan and store files electronically to avoid the spoliation of physical documents, making them more accessible and easier to find.
A file system’s search capabilities are important during legal discovery, when each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party by requesting the production of documents. eFileCabinet uses a system called Zonal OCR (optical character recognition) to automatically convert the important fields of scanned documents into searchable metadata. This helps avoid the need to go through dozens of documents to the find the exact one you need. eFileCabinet does the searching for you.
Software Integrations with eFileCabinet
eFileCabinet is also built to work with the applications you already use, such as Word and Quickbooks. It manages your files, so that you can focus on your work. While you are working, eFileCabinet’s CloudView backup stores your files in the Cloud, which you can easily access in the case of a hard drive crash. This is the ultimate enemy of spoliation, because it makes sure that there is a copy of each file in at least two locations at all times.
eFileCabinet allows users to access their files through desktop and mobile applications. It also stores documents online through its Cloud document management system, which allows users to access their files from anywhere. Each of these applications is secured and encrypted to keep files safe. eFileCabinet was built to help users comply with federal regulations and regulators, such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).
One of the most central features that will help law firms avoid problems that come from handling and storing evidence is eFileCabinet’s automated document retention
Spoliation of evidence can be the difference between a jury deciding a case in your favor and losing a case. Why risk it? eFileCabinet organizes and indexes your documents to keep your files searchable, backed up and safely indexed. To see how eFileCabinet can benefit you, fill out the form on this page for a 15-minute demo.