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What Would Your Employee Do If Served a Subpoena?

May 9, 2023

Courtesy of Warner Norcross + Judd

We get it. “It won’t happen to us,” is a common thought when businesses consider planning for a search warrant or subpoena request. And truthfully, clients have told us that it wasn’t top of mind until it landed on top of their desks. So here we are, writing about something that’s just about as exciting as a root canal. But, it is exciting – just not in the way you’d hope.

The excitement that ensues from a search warrant can be gut wrenching. Perhaps the target is an employee or a rogue manager, not the company itself. But, no matter the reason, execution of a search warrant can spark media attention that you won’t want to post on your Instagram page. That’s why having a plan in place and a crisis team identified – before law enforcement arrives – is crucial. And the time to plan is now.

Many of our clients also routinely receive subpoenas. Perhaps it is a third-party subpoena in a personal injury case seeking information about an employee. Or a subpoena from a prosecutor asking for bank account records for a criminal defendant. Or, an investigatory subpoena from a government agency seeking information from the company or its officers. Whatever the type of subpoena issued, it is important to know what you can do to reduce your discovery costs, and how to protect privileged and sensitive documents. It’s not a matter of if but when you could be a party to a request, and preparing ahead of time can save you significant time, expense and concern.

But don’t take it from us. Here’s what one of our clients, a frequent user of our eDiscovery services, has to say:

“If you are facing the challenge of collecting, reviewing or managing electronic data, your company will be grateful to have Warner on your team. Over the last two decades, we have partnered with the innovative practitioners at Warner on bet-the-company litigation, due diligence reviews, subpoena responses and eDiscovery projects. As data volumes and emerging, complex data types continue to proliferate, the cost of eDiscovery continues to rise, and with it, the difficulty and risk for a company increases. Warner attorneys recognize this problem and will be with you every step of the way — reducing your eDiscovery spend in a defensible manner. Their attorneys are on the cutting edge of blending both legal strategy and eDiscovery expertise to embrace early case assessment and proactive discovery scoping and budgeting. Using a combination of established best practices, cutting-edge technologies and strategic partnerships, they are aligned with the client’s objective of efficient and cost-effective discovery. I cannot recommend them highly enough.” – Mandi Ross, Insight Optix

At the ground level, we are seeing an increase in the U.S. Department of Justice’s focus on combatting corporate crime. They want individual accountability – including employees at all levels of a corporation – and civil/criminal enforcement when necessary. Read more about this growing enforcement in Madelaine Lane’s Grand Rapids Business Journal article titled, “Preparation is key to corporate compliance.”

To help you prepare for search warrant and subpoena requests, we are offering the following affordable and comprehensive solutions:

  • Review of your current search warrant and subpoena in-house protocol and forms to ensure you’re ready for whatever lies ahead.
  • Search Warrant and Subpoena Protocol Forms with customizable fields and step-by-step instructions. Easy to use, easy to implement.
  • Subpoena Response Data Map and IT Inventory Form to help you identify key personnel and data within your various company departments. Think “sitemap” for your data.
  • eDiscovery Subpoena Baseline Risk Assessment that helps you evaluate your risk exposure and identify potential issues before they become issues.
  • Training in person to get your teams up-to-speed on protocol and planning that works for your organization.
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