Magazine Article | June 22, 2006

E-Mail Management Solution Helps Lawyers Avoid E-Mail Overload

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By automating its e-mail management and archiving, a law firm reduced its

individual mailbox sizes by 90% and cut data backup times by more than 75%.

Integrated Solutions, July 2006

Walk into any attorney’s office, and you’ll likely run into a lot of paperwork — reams of it, in fact, on anything from taxes to real estate to business. So it’s little wonder that in today’s e-mail world, much of the information previously relegated to paper is now in electronic formats, giving lawyers more types of documents to keep track of.

One of the largest law firms in the United States has 600-plus attorneys on staff in 20 offices. The firm’s attorneys had generated enough e-mail that the firm’s computers were reaching their maximum storage capacities. In the summer of 2003, when the firm was making a transition to a new e-mail system, it recognized it needed a better way to manage its e-mail. The company had 10 years’ worth of e-mail and attachments that had grown to 650 GB, and another 365 GB of live, or new, e-mail.

According to the law firm’s application integrator, most of the firm’s attorneys receive an average of 150 e-mail messages daily. “Some reach more than 200 messages a day,” she says. A lot of that e-mail comes with attachments, in the form of just about anything from photographs to contracts to white papers on complicated issues. Deleting the e-mails and their attachments was not an option. Attorneys have to be especially careful when it comes to managing or deleting e-mail because of its potential relevance to ongoing litigation or research. The law firm contacted ZANTAZ, a provider of e-mail storage and archiving solutions, for help.  

After reviewing the full spectrum of e-mail archiving solutions offered by ZANTAZ, the law firm selected three to implement:

  • EAS (Enterprise Archiving Solution) for Exchange, which is the on-site e-mail management solution for Microsoft Exchange environments
  • EAS Storage Manager, which provides automatic, policy-driven archive management that optimizes the performance and function of EAS archives
  • EAS Search, which delivers scalability and flexibility for high-performance searching and retrieval of electronic files.

Just before contacting ZANTAZ, the firm had switched from a decentralized system of storing e-mail in which each of its 20 offices stored e-mail on its own Exchange servers. The firm centralized the system in 2003 so that all e-mail could be stored at its main hub. While centralization put an end to having its e-mail scattered across the country, it did nothing to address the volume of e-mail or how to access information within the huge silos of information that had been created.

The EAS archiving solutions addressed all of these problems. The new system immediately brought the size of individual mailboxes down from 3 to 4 GB to a few hundred MBs, the firm’s application integrator says. That’s about a 90% reduction in space. “It dramatically reduced the size of our message stores,” she notes. “EAS compressed everything, and our users still had all of their e-mail and could find it easily.”

Besides making files smaller and more efficient, EAS provided single-instance storage (SIS), which means 10 people might get the same e-mail, but only one version of it is saved. Everyone still has access to that one copy from within their own mailboxes. Also, small stub files are left in the place of all incoming e-mail. A stub file is a file that represents data that is stored in the archive. Users can access all information that comes via e-mail — including attachments — through a stub file. Most space is taken up in e-mail storage by attachments. Using stub files rather than an entire message can reduce that space.

A big benefit of the solution is the ease with which the company can now access information. Previously, if the firm needed to retrieve a specific message, it had to review a number of tapes from the period of time in which the message was thought to have been received. Now, specific messages can be identified and retrieved more quickly and at almost one-tenth the cost. Furthermore, EAS can capture and preserve all messages, whether or not a user has deleted a message. Once a message is archived, a user has no ability to purge that message from the archive. Only an administrator can do that. The most a user can do is to delete his or her own reference to the archived document.

Data backups are more efficient with the new system, as well. The law firm now makes three copies of its EAS archive on a daily basis, a process that takes between 15 minutes and 2 hours, compared with the 8 hours it took before installing ZANTAZ EAS, saving the firm both time and labor.