Date Established: 12/21/2022
Date Last Updated:
Information Technology, Administration and Governance
Vice President and Chief Information Officer,
Vice President for Finance and Administration
This policy provides guidance to prepare for and comply with E-Discovery requirements in accordance with State University of New York Legal Proceeding Preparation (E-Discovery) Procedure, Document Number 6610.
The University at Buffalo (UB, university) is committed to operating to the highest ethical and legal standards. Complying with federal and state laws regarding preservation of documents, whether electronic or in any other form, in connection with a legal dispute is an important aspect of this commitment. Upon notice that a lawsuit has commenced against the university, or upon reasonable anticipation that a lawsuit may be brought, the university and its relevant personnel are under a legal duty to preserve all Electronically Stored Information (ESI) related to the legal dispute.
University officers, employees, agents, and authorized users who use electronic storage systems and programs must:
Counsel will determine what constitutes a Triggering Event. When appropriate, Counsel’s Office will issue a Legal Preservation Notice, direct the Legal Hold process, and notify the E-Discovery Response Team (Team). The Team will oversee the preservation, review, and production of ESI including communication, oversight, and management of the process.
All university systems, programs, and devices must allow for UB Information Technology (IT) administrative access. Employees do not have a privacy interest in university records and ESI, regardless of where they are stored.
Back-up systems are for the purpose of disaster recovery only. Time frames and cycles of such systems should adhere to university policies including the Record Retention and Disposition Policy and Central Email Policy.
Failure by any university officer, employee, agent, or authorized user to adhere to this policy may result in discipline and expose them to legal sanctions.
The university is responsible for complying with information demands made by the public, oversight agencies, parties in litigation, and the courts. Such demands may arise in the context of litigation, administrative proceedings, audits, investigations, and Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. With the proliferation of electronic information storage capabilities and systems, the task of complying with these requests has become more complicated and challenging.
This policy applies to all university officers, employees, agents, and authorized users who use electronic storage systems and programs.
Attorney of the SUNY OGC, including attorneys designated as campus counsel or outside legal counsel involved at the request of OGC.
Officer, employee, or agent of the university who possesses, controls, or maintains any record, information, or data of the university.
Distributed IT Director
Head of a departmental IT staff unit. Also referred to as Node Director.
E-Discovery (Electronic Discovery)
Process of preserving, securing, reviewing, and exchanging ESI in the context of modern litigation or other legal processes.'=
E-Discovery Response Team
Manages overall compliance by assessing, implementing, and monitoring the university’s E-Discovery processes. The E-Discovery Team includes Counsel, UBIT Personnel, and the Records Management Officer (RMO); other individuals may be asked to participate as needed.
Electronically Stored Information (ESI)
Any information, record, document, file, or data that is stored electronically. ESI may reside on a university system, device, or server of any kind; on an employee’s personal device or account if such device or account is used for conducting university business; or on cloud technologies or services. ESI may include but is not limited to audio recordings, video, voice mail, email, instant messages and chats, text messages, documents, spreadsheets, databases, calendars, telephone logs, contact information, internet usage files, metadata, portable electronic media, social media, and all other electronic information created, received, and/or maintained on computer systems.
University officer, employee, or agent who possesses, controls, or maintains any record, information, or ESI that is subject to a Legal Hold. A Key Person may also be someone who is in a position of leadership or someone who has been designated as a campus liaison to Counsel.
Process by which UBIT Personnel preserve certain records and ESI pursuant to a Legal Preservation Notice issued by Counsel’s Office. The Legal Hold remains in effect until advised by OGC.
The basic steps to implementing a Legal Hold are:
Legal Preservation Notice
Set of written instructions that is sent from Counsel’s Office to Key Persons and their supervisors, with notice to the E-Discovery Response Team in order to initiate a Legal Hold when an event gives rise to a reasonable anticipation of litigation.
A Legal Preservation Notice may be issued by Counsel’s Office electronically; however, it should follow with an appropriate acknowledgment of receipt. At a minimum, a Legal Preservation Notice should include information related to:
Records Management Officer (RMO)
Individual responsible for developing and administering a records management program for systematic control of records at the university. The RMO ensures proper retention and disposition of records at the campus level.
Any event or set of circumstances that causes Counsel to reasonably anticipate litigation or another legal process that gives rise to a preservation obligation. Factors to consider in determining whether a Triggering Event has occurred include, but are not limited to:
University at Buffalo Information Technology (UBIT) Personnel
Chief Information Officer or designee.
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