Of all the electronic discovery stories, those involving e-mail are the most captivating, prompting head scratching and questions such as, “I can’t believe they deleted those e-mails,” and “Why didn’t they keyword search for that message?” But those questions become less amusing if the stories involve a lawyer or his own clients. Protecting clients’ interests means ensuring that they have a coherent e-mail retention policy in place.

E-mail has become indispensible in virtually all organizations, businesses and government. E-discovery exposes how people manage these records, and lawyers commonly discover their clients retain costly and useless e-mail while failing to identify or preserve essential messages, the absence of which can lead to sanctions. All the while the volume of e-mail grows. Based on its business-user survey, technology market research firm Radicati Group Inc. estimates that the average user in 2008 processed 140 e-mails per day, up from 75 e-mails per day for the average 2005 user.