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Data mapping helps you answer “How long do I have to keep my data, really?”

Synopsis Part 1: Data mapping helps you answer “How long do I have to keep my data, really?”
Synopsis Part 2: Mary Mack talks legal, technology and risk management through education

data discovery interview –  Mary Mack, Corporate Technology Counsel, Fios, Inc, (Part 1 of 3)

As Corporate Technology Counsel for Fios, she has more than 20 years
experience delivering enterprise-wide electronic discovery, managed
services and software projects with legal and IT departments in
publicly held companies. Mary is a hands-on strategic advisor to
counsel for some of the largest products liability class actions,
government investigations and intellectual property disputes. Clients
include the largest law firms, pharmaceutical companies and insurance
companies in the world.

A member of the Illinois Bar, ACCA and the ABA’s Section on Litigation,
Mary received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law
(1982) and a B.A. from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY. She holds
certifications in Computer Forensics and Computer Telephony. (more)

By Joshua Konkle writing for

Joshua Konkle: One of the most frequently asked questions by CIOs and others worried about the cost of data management is “how long do I have to keep my data, really?”  What do you say when you get asked that question?

Mary Mack: Unfortunately, the best answer is “it depends.”  Each company’s business challenges are unique, but the challenge of policy required by the courts or government regulatory agencies is not. Data retention and disposition are workflows designed around business processes. The process of identifying what groups, people, documents and issues are at most at risk and tracking that through a formal data mapping process is something that Fios helps clients with on a regular basis, proactively or for a particular 26(f).

This process enables IT and legal to put boundaries on documents created by groups, but stored outside of content management or traditional document management and workflow products. After data is mapped and under management control, companies can institute (and lift) defensible legal holds according to their litigation portfolio.

Joshua Konkle: There appears to be some gap between what legal teams require to support eDiscovery and the capabilities available today in data management technology. What advice do you have as a vendor trying to assist their clients in addressing litigation readiness and review costs challenges?

Mary Mack: You must address people, process and technology as a whole, like a project triangle. If you take away from one, you must give to the other. Customers want predictability in their processes and technology.

In terms of people and process, electronic discovery presents an unusual challenge in that IT is constantly trying to narrow the focus for predictable actions and operations. Legal is traditionally trying to widen the scope or expand it to ensure nothing is missed. For example, an attorney will ask multiple questions to get to a single point:

  • What is your first name?
  • What is your last name?
  • What year were you born?
  • What month were you born?
  • How old are you?

When these two groups meet, the language and focus is decidedly different. Fios consultants use skills of communication and collaboration to bridge this gap. This has been the focus of Fios since our inception nearly a decade ago. We pioneered the concept of litigation readiness in 2003, well before the amendments to the Federal Rules were in place, and have built an entire portfolio of discovery planning services to help both IT and legal prepare for discovery challenges. For example, in the data mapping process, we help them focus on eDiscovery as a business process that incorporates:

  • Physical & digital data
  • Business use of the data
  • Physical locations where the data is stored
  • Litigation portfolio and high-risk issues
  • Retention policies and data governance practices

Our goal is to support our clients’ legal business process management challenges. And yes, there are too many gaps in the eDiscovery process for technology today to deliver the “easy” button solution. But technology advancements have made great strides, and so have the people using it. It’s the process that’s the hidden secret to success.

you would like to communicate with Mary directly, she can be reached at
info(at) or by calling Fios at 1 877 700 3467. publishes interviews with legal professionals; click here for more eDiscovery interviews, grab the news feed and new for April 2008 we are offering updates via email, including a monthly electronic discovery newsletter starting in May.


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