How the Texas A&M University System Uses Its E-Discovery Software Platform to Drive Greater Efficiencies Across Its Legal Operations

Barbara Winckler

Aug 21 2019

The Texas A&M University System was officially established in 1948 and has grown into one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. The university system is actually a statewide network of 11 universities and 7 agencies, including the flagship university in College Station that is nationally recognized, Texas A&M University.

At the Texas A&M University System, our previous approach to managing e-discovery was effective for a long time, but the volume and scale of these demands continued to escalate. We needed a technology solution to help us stay on top of things. With AD eDiscovery®, AccessData delivered a solution with important benefits to help us manage preservation hold matters. The platform has helped the Office of General Counsel maintain better control and improve efficiency in the preservation hold and e-discovery process. We estimate that it takes one-fourth the amount of time to respond to specific e-discovery requests as it did in the past.

These are all benefits that one would expect a comprehensive e-discovery solution to deliver. What we were not expecting were the additional benefits gained from alternative uses for the platform that have helped the University system make significant improvements across other legal operations tasks. Beyond e-discovery, we’ve been able to use the platform to help:

  • Simplify Legal Holds — Right now at A&M, we have more than 100 automated legal holds in our AD eDiscovery platform (referred to as preservation holds in the A&M System) related to dozens of different matters and over a thousand individual custodians. This would have been extremely difficult to manage under our previous manual workflow, but using AD eDiscovery has greatly simplified how we manage legal holds. For example, we now have the capability to quickly determine the preservation holds that a custodian is on and whether the holds are still pending. Trying to determine this manually was extremely time-consuming.

    Additionally, we have incorporated e-discovery questions into the AD eDiscovery legal hold workflow enabling us to more efficiently identify custodians and email accounts to add to the preservation hold. Using template interview questions within AD eDiscovery helps us keep track of where electronically stored information is located by custodian. This has proved a useful tool for our IT department when custodians leave, to ensure we are preserving electronically stored information. An added benefit is the reports that we can generate from the AD platform provide an audit trail of the actions taken in the preservation hold.

    Every time we find a new way to improve our preservation hold process, we have been able to implement the changes in the AD eDiscovery platform.

  • Assist with internal investigations and regulatory requests for information — Our AD eDiscovery platform allows our in-house attorneys and legal assistants to sift through large volumes of data to locate relevant information during an investigation or in response to a request for information. The resulting data can be easily exported in a variety of formats including native, PDF or TIFF. The ability to quickly locate relevant information in an investigation is especially important when dealing with regulatory agencies and tight deadlines to respond to requests for information.

  • Manage subpoenas — We leverage the easy-to-use web platform to review large volumes of data for responses to subpoenas, prepare a privilege log, and track our responses as well as to produce comprehensive reports for our clients.

While the A&M System initially invested in AD eDiscovery to help get more control over our e-discovery workflow and help speed our response time for e-discovery requests, by identifying other ways to leverage AD eDiscovery to manage subpoenas, regulatory requests and preservation holds, we have more than justified our investment in the solution.

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