Checklist for Litigation Hold Compliance


Here's a quick checklist on how to get custodians to be more cooperative based on the advice provided by Claira Hart and Lindsey Tsai of ZApproved on the ACEDS webinar, How Lean Teams Can Increase Custodian Compliance With 5 Easy Tips .


  1. Simplify the language of the litigation hold -

  2. Don't use a lot of legal language.

  3. Don't force the potential custodian to review a long set of instructions. Consider cutting any unnecessary language. This is given as an example of a notice which is too short:

This is an example of a notice which is too long:



This is just right:



2. There should be a clear 'call to action'

a. The custodians shouldn't be confused by the notice.

b. A notice shouldn't prompt the custodians to ask a lot of questions.

c. Litigation hold software should prompt the custodian to accept the notice.

d. Compliance should not be difficult.

e. Give contact information for a real person to answer any questions.


3. Make sure the notice has good formatting.

a. Put custodians' obligations in a bulleted list.

b. Highlight particularly important instructions.


4. The litigation hold notice should be clear.

a. Provide detail on the data sources which should preserved

b. Use an eye-catching subject line with a phrase such as 'ACTION REQUIRED'.

c. Specify a date range for the data to be collected.

d. Prepare a log of where data has been collected from.


5. Make clear who the legal hold notice is from, whether it's the general counsel or someone else.


6. Give a deadline by which a response is required.


7. Provide suggestions on where data can be found.


8. Provide automated reminders to the custodians reminding them of response deadlines.


9. If there is no response, escalate the effort to collect data to a custodian's manager, or the system admin.


10. Use a single message consolidating multiple holds for more than one litigation matter.


11. Track custodian compliance with metrics showing the percentage of employees who have responded.


12. Make sure that you are focusing on active employees, and are aware of who has been terminated.


13. Provide training on litigation holds which are tailored to specific departments.


14. Be sure the hold notice is not misinterpreted as spam or a phishing exploit.


15. Work with IT to confirm that the email with the hold notice is not flagged as an external notice.


16. Prepare a defensible, easy to replicate template for your legal hold.


17. Make sure that hold notices follow a consistent format and 'cadence' with standardized intervals for reminders.


18. Identify someone who will draft the hold notices, and someone who will give them final approval.


19. Not closing out holds in a timely fashion can create risk for a business.


20. Provide contact information for a subject matter expert.


21. Ask about data stored on devices not provided by the company.


22. Ask each potential custodian if they know of anyone else who should be a custodian.