Legal Holds: Hold Notices

Table of Contents

Introduction to hold notices

Everlaw's hold notice functionality allows you to create and send hold notifications, track custodian acknowledgement, schedule automatic renotification and escalation notices, and send periodic reminders. You can send as many hold notices as you like to as many custodians as you like with no limits.

Hold notices are displayed on the main legal holds page alongside data preservations.


Creating your first hold notice

Creating a hold notice and selecting custodians

There are a few different ways to create a new legal hold notice. From the Legal Holds tab, users can click the “New” button at the top right, then select "New hold notice".


You will then see a dialog where you can enter the name of the hold notice. If any other hold notices exist in the database, you can choose to copy all settings, including custodians, hold notice text, and renotification and escalation settings, from that hold, or start with a blank hold.


You can also create new hold notices from the Directory tab of the legal holds page. To do so, select the people that need to receive hold notices, then click “Issue hold notice” at the top of the directory table. Selecting “Existing hold notice” will add the custodians to an existing hold notice on the database, even if hold notices have already been sent out. Selecting “New hold notice” will bring up the same naming dialog as shown above.

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After clicking Create in the naming dialog, you will be taken to the hold notice creation wizard. The first step in the hold notice creation wizard asks users to select relevant custodians from the custodian list. If the hold notice was created from the Directory tab, the custodians will already be selected here. If you haven’t added any custodians yet, you can skip this step for now, or add custodians directly from this page. 

The process for adding custodians from this page is exactly the same as the process for adding custodians from the Directory tab. However, once you’ve finished adding the custodians here, you’ll automatically be taken back to the hold notice creation wizard.

Hold notice

The next step in the wizard asks you to draft the hold notice email. You must enter a subject, hold issuer name, and hold issuer email address. The issuer email address will be used as the reply-to email if custodians try to reply to the hold notification email.

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To edit the hold notice text, click on the body of the email. A dialog box containing an email editor will appear. From here, you can copy the text of the hold notice from another hold in the database using the “Copy from” button at the top of the dialog, or create the hold notice text from scratch. A variety of formatting options are available. 

You can also include merge fields such as #CustodianName and #CustodianEmail, which will personalize the hold notices for each custodian. Merge fields can be added into the hold notice text or the email subject line. The available merge fields are #CustodianName, #CustodianEmail, #IssuerName, #IssuerEmail, #ManagerName, #ManagerEmail, #HoldNoticeName, and #IssueDate. You can add merge fields by clicking on the merge field or by typing in the merge field name. You can also see this list and add merge fields to the email subject line by clicking on the green plus sign at the right of the subject entry line.

Attachments can be added to the hold notice. Click on the paperclip icon to attach files from your computer or drag and drop the files you wish to attach onto the hold notice dialog. Files currently attached can be downloaded by clicking on the filename of each attachment and removed from the hold notice by clicking on the red X button. The total email size limit is 7 MB, including the message text body and encoding. If files are too large, a dialog will pop up explaining that the attachments are over the size limit. Attachments are not included in a database’s billable size and there is no limit to the number of attachments that can be added to a hold notice. All file types are generally supported for attachments except for the list of file types not allowed by Amazon SES.


Files currently attached can be downloaded by clicking on the file name of each attachment. To remove an attachment, click on the red X button next to the file name.

Finally, the “Go to acknowledgement portal” button will automatically be attached to the hold notice email and cannot be deleted.


Once you are done editing your hold notice and have returned to the wizard, you can see what the email looks like in an email inbox by clicking on the “Send test email” button at the bottom of the page. Because emails may include merge fields and may therefore be slightly different for each custodian, you can choose to view the hold notice as a particular custodian. Of course, test emails will be sent only to the selected recipients, not to any actual custodians or any cc/bcc recipients.

send_test_emails_-_new.pngNote that the acknowledgement portal link on test emails is not a functional acknowledgement portal and does not contain the test email hold notification or any attachments to the hold notice.

Auto-renotification settings

The next step in the wizard defines automatic renotification settings. Renotification emails are emails that remind custodians they have not yet acknowledged their hold notice. If you turn on auto-renotification, these notices will be sent automatically to unresponsive custodians after the selected interval (the default is one week). You can edit the message attached to the renotification emails, as well as include additional cc and bcc recipients. 



Auto-escalation settings

The next step in the wizard defines automatic escalation settings. Escalation emails are emails informing the custodian’s manager that the custodian has not yet acknowledged their hold notice. If you turn on auto-escalation, these notices will be sent automatically to the managers of unresponsive custodians, with the custodians cc’d, after the selected interval (the default is two weeks). You can edit the message attached to the escalation emails, as well as include additional cc and bcc recipients.


If any selected custodian does not have an associated manager email, escalation emails cannot be sent for that custodian, so you will see the following warning dialog.


You can add the missing emails by clicking the “Add managers” button in the warning dialog, without ever navigating away from the wizard.


Reminder settings

Some legal holds last for months or even years, and legal hold administrators have a duty to ensure that all custodians on those holds are periodically reminded that they are still under hold. Everlaw allows you to set up these reminder notices upon creation of the hold, so you don’t have to remember to send these notices months after the initial setup.

Reminders are different from automatic renotifications. While renotifications are sent shortly after the initial hold notice to custodians who have not yet acknowledged their legal hold, reminders are sent to all custodians regardless of acknowledgement status. Reminders are generally sent quarterly or half-yearly.


Reminders will be sent every 3 months by default, but you can change the interval at which reminders are sent or choose not to send reminders at all. If desired, you can also choose to require custodian acknowledgement for every reminder.

Summary page and emails

The final step in the wizard displays a summary of all chosen settings. From here, you can view a list of all custodians selected for the hold; send test emails for the initial hold notice, renotification notice, and escalation notice; and make any necessary changes. You can send your hold notice by selecting “Issue & send emails” at the bottom of the wizard. Please note that once emails have been sent, they cannot be unsent.


If you select the box to send summary emails, anyone in the Recipients box will receive a summary email including all the settings displayed on the summary page of the wizard, the text of the hold notice and any auto-renotification and auto-escalation notices, the date and time that the hold was sent, and the name of the associated database.


Custodian portals

Once the hold notice has been issued, custodians will receive the notifications in their email inboxes. When custodians click “Go to acknowledgement portal”, they will be taken to their personal custodian acknowledgement portal. Custodians do not need to have Everlaw accounts to access this portal. If custodians do have Everlaw accounts, this portal will not be associated with their existing Everlaw account in any way.


After checking the box and clicking “Confirm acknowledgement”, custodians will see the following confirmation page, and will receive a confirmation email including the date and time of their acknowledgement. If custodians try to access the portal again, they will simply see a notice informing them that they have already acknowledged their hold.

Tracking custodian responses

The legal holds tab contains a list of all hold notices in the database. Hold notices can have the status Draft, meaning that the hold has not yet been sent out; Issued, meaning that the hold notice has been issued and is active; and Released, meaning that the hold notice was previously issued but now custodians have been released from their holds. Draft hold notices display the date last edited; issued hold notices display the date issued; and released holds display the date that all custodians were released from their holds. 

Issued and released hold notices also display the number of custodians under the hold. For issued hold notices, this number is broken down into the number of custodians who have acknowledged the hold, the number of custodians who have not yet acknowledged the hold, and the number of custodians who have been released from the hold (if any).


Clicking View will take you to a dashboard where you can view information about all the custodians who have ever been issued this hold notice. As you can see in the image below, the Custodians subtab contains a custodian table with information broken down by custodian.


The “Hold status” column indicates whether that custodian is under an active hold. The custodians who are under active holds will have their hold status marked as Issued. If any custodians have been released from the hold, their status will be marked as Released. 

Custodians who are under active holds will also have the “Acknowledgement status” column filled out, indicating their current acknowledgement status on the active hold. If holds have been reissued to these custodians, the acknowledgement status will reset. (More information on how to edit and reissue holds can be found in section Editing hold notices and settings.)

If you have chosen to send reminders and require custodian acknowledgement for those reminders, you will see the additional column "Reminder status" in your table. The reminder status column displays the current state of acknowledgement for the most recent reminder.


The “Communication history” column contains a record of every single event involving that custodian. Events are generated whenever a hold notice, auto-renotification, auto-escalation, manual renotification, manual escalation, or reminder email is sent; whenever a custodian acknowledges their hold; and whenever a custodian is released from the hold. You can download the information in this table by selecting custodians, clicking the 3-dot menu that appears at the top of the table, then clicking “Export report”.


From this same table, if you select only custodians who have not yet acknowledged their hold notices, the buttons Renotify and Escalate will become active. Selecting these buttons will send a manual renotification notice to the selected custodian or manual escalation notice to the selected custodian’s manager. You will be able to edit the renotification or escalation message before sending the emails. 


Please note that sending a manual renotification or escalation message will reset the automatic renotification or escalation cadence. This means that if automatic renotification messages are sent every 7 days, and a manual renotification message was sent 4 days after an automatic renotification, then it will be an additional 7 days before another automatic renotification message is sent.

If you want to view a chronological list of all events on the hold, not broken down by custodian, click on the Activity subtab.


From here, you can filter by event date and export a record of chronological events by clicking on the Export button at the upper right of the table. Within the table, clicking the blue text (“5 custodians”) will pop out a list of custodians involved in the event. Clicking on the preview icon under “View emails” will bring up an exact record of the email(s) sent, including email text, email issuer, date/time sent, and To/From/Cc/Bcc/Subject fields.

Editing hold notices and settings

If you need to make changes to your hold after it has already been issued, click on the 3-dot menu at the top right of the page. From here, you will see options to add more custodians to the hold, and view or edit the hold notice email, issuer contact, auto-renotification settings, auto-escalation settings, and reminder settings. 


If you choose to add a reminder after creating the hold, the length of time before the reminder is sent will be calculated based on the initial send date of the hold, not the date that the reminder was created.

Editing and reissuing a hold notice email will reset all custodians’ acknowledgement statuses to Not Acknowledged, although old acknowledgement events will still be recorded in the Communication History column and on the Activity tab. All custodians on the hold will be required to acknowledge the updated and reissued notice.

Editing the hold notice or modifying the attachments on the hold (including adding new attachments, removing attachments or changing attachments) will also require reissuing the hold notice to all custodians to ensure that the custodians will receive any changes to the legal hold.

Releasing holds

To release some but not all custodians from the hold, select the custodians you want to release, then select the Release button at the top of the table, next to the Renotify and Escalate buttons. To release all custodians from the hold, select the “Release hold” button in the upper right. Holds will only receive the status “Released” when all custodians have been released from the hold.

Whenever any custodians are released, you will be asked to select whether you want to send release notice emails to custodians or silently release the custodians from the hold without notifying them. 


If you choose to send release notice emails, you will be taken to an email editing screen where you can write a release notice. Please note that if you choose not to notify custodians, you won’t be able to send release notice emails to custodians later. However, release events will be recorded in the platform whether or not custodians receive release emails.

Deleting holds

In order to delete an active hold notice, the hold must first be released. Once the hold has been released, users can click on the three-dot menu in the upper right to access the "Delete hold notice" action. This will kick off a deletion flow that will remove all history and events associated with that hold notice.


Before deleting, users will be given the option to receive a summary email containing the complete custodian table export for that hold notice.

Although a record of the hold creation and deletion will be preserved in the Historic User Activity page, all acknowledgement events will be completely deleted. We do not recommend deleting any holds unless the hold was created as a test or mistake, and records are never needed again.


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