Key Employee Departures and Trade Secret Risk Assessment

30 12 2017

As a special feature of our blog—special guest postings by experts, clients, and other professionals—please enjoy this blog entry from Charlie Platt, a director at iDiscovery Solutions.

It’s Friday afternoon and the conversation goes a little like this, “Wait, what? They’re leaving? Where are they going? Is there any opportunity to help them reconsider?”

When a key employee departs an organization, it can take a toll on clients and colleagues, productivity, and morale. What follows is a rush of activity: current projects are reviewed, transition plans are quickly drawn up and put in place, and decisions are made about how to replace the departing employee and how to communicate the departure to the rest of the firm and clients.

Unfortunately, this can also raise questions of concern for the organization, such as, “Did they take any electronic documents with them and, if they did, how can we tell?” Today, employees have easy access to more information than ever before and even greater opportunity to walk away with company data. While most don’t, too many make the choice to take something. Despite best efforts and safeguards, the prevalence of mobile devices, cloud storage, USB devices, etc. provide several possible avenues for a misguided employee to take sensitive company data with them when they depart.

Assessing a single avenue (e.g., USB devices) is not very complicated and can be very insightful. One of my iDS colleagues, Arnold Garcia, recently wrote about USB devices and how we can determine the history of their usage on a computer. This can be a big help in understanding if an employee took electronic documents upon departing an organization. Along with USB issues, some other questions to consider are:


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