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MS Teams: Where is All the Data Stored for eDiscovery

By Torie Carrillo posted 10-17-2023 10:25


When implementing Microsoft Teams, it is vital to understand the undercarriage of this tool and where your data lives due to client matter retention policies and eDiscovery within the legal environment. Microsoft Teams puts items in various places within your environment depending on how and where the user is working.  For example, do not confuse a direct chat within Microsoft Teams and a post to a team within Microsoft Teams.  The direct chat will be part of the individual users’ mailbox that participated in the chat, but the team posts are in the group mailbox for the Microsoft Team in which it was posted.   

Additionally, if your users conduct a meeting within a Microsoft Team or a channel within a team that data is also stored in different places.  Meeting recordings within the Microsoft Team are stored in the OneDrive location of the user that started the recording, but channel recordings are stored in the SharePoint site for the team in which it was held. 

Here is a reference to Microsoft Team data storage locations:

I have mentioned four places already.  This is why it can get complicated quickly in locating data that you have to provide either in eDiscovery or retention situations.  There are also policies for each environment that can be implemented due to your law firm’s needs.  Direct chat may be considered “water cooler” conversion and not be meant for long term retention.  If that’s the case, then you also need to understand the policies that may affect these locations as well. 

Here is a reference to Microsoft Purview:

It is strongly recommended to control the Microsoft Teams environment by requiring the initial creation of a Microsoft Team by a context that you as a Firm Administrator can track such a client matter number and name.  There are various third-party products available to help with the creation and overall management of Microsoft Teams.  These products will integrate with your authoritative source for client matter information and allow users to self-create the team.  Fortunately, once the Microsoft Team is created, any Team Owners can rename the team to a more friendly name for their use, and it will leave the undercarriage of the team in the context that you can easily identify. 

As a Firm Administrator, it is important to be familiar with the tools needed to identify and gather information in Microsoft Teams, Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive.  One of the most versatile tools is leveraging PowerShell, with the proper module and cmdlets to list and extract your data. 

Below is a useful link on PowerShell:

Remember, you will need to be an Administrator of the specific Microsoft application or a Global Admin in your environment to execute and retrieve information.  If you are getting started with PowerShell, it is recommended to start with a class such as the free one listed below:

It is complicated in the world of Microsoft Teams and there are many interlaced areas to be familiar with.  In law firms of substantial size, these areas of knowledge may be in varying departments.   

If you are getting started, first work with Microsoft Teams in a pilot group and navigate the intricacies of the data before a full rollout.  You want to be comfortable with how your Firm Leaders want the environment to work. It is suggested to gain insightful information from either a committee or your General Counsel office but be ready to educate them on the possibilities.   

As Microsoft continues to change this landscape and builds on the modern environment, it is also important to watch for new updates and features released monthly.   
It takes a village to manage and maintain Microsoft Teams in a law firm, especially when thinking through the ramifications of eDiscovery and retention needs.