In this installment of our continuing series on e-discovery basics, we compare discovery strategy for internal investigations with traditional e-discovery. Given the need to quickly determine whether laws, regulations, or internal company policies may have been violated in an internal investigation, we will discuss the importance of successfully leveraging technology to identify any potential wrongdoing to help mitigate criminal prosecution, civil fines, restitution, or reputational risk in a quick and efficient manner. In our last article, we discussed the importance of developing a thorough understanding of client data and drafting a comprehensive discovery playbook in advance of litigation. Although concepts and practices relevant in e-discovery are useful in conducting an internal investigation and there are similarities between both processes, discovery for litigation and “discovery” for internal investigations are markedly different and should be treated that way. This article will explore the process by which a skilled eData attorney can carry out an internal investigation to completion.

Internal allegations are conducted when an organization becomes aware of allegations of potential wrongdoing either from outside the organization (e.g., regulatory request, media) or from inside the organization (e.g., whistleblower, company “hotline,” audit). Whether the allegations involve insider trading, fraud, misappropriation of funds, sexual harassment, or any other type of malfeasance, the risk to the organization can be immense and should be thoroughly investigated.