Professor William H.J. Hubbard from the University of Chicago Law School recently concluded his Preservation Costs Survey and the results are now available. The survey “is the first, and to date only, systematic effort to measure the extent and costs of preservation activity across a broad sample of companies,” and collected data from 128 companies, “including companies of all sizes and from a broad range of industries.” The results are both fascinating and timely, in light of proposed amendments to the Federal Rules which may affect preservation obligations in future litigation.
Notable findings include that “[o]ver 79 percent of respondents reported a ‘great extent’ or ‘moderate extent’ of preservation burdens”; that “[a]mong the largest companies in the sample, the estimated costs exceed $40 million per company per year”; and that “[o]n average across all survey respondents, slightly less than half of all preserved data is ever collected, processed, and reviewed” and “[e]ven less is produced or eventually used in litigation.” Also notable was the conclusion that “[r]ule changes with even modest effects would generate meaningful cost savings” and that “[f]or the largest companies in the sample, a 3 percent reduction only in employee time spent on litigation holds would equate to savings of over $1 million per company per year.”
The Summary of Findings and Final Report were submitted to the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules by Professor Hubbard during the public comment period for the currently proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (which has now closed).