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Bridging the gap between IT and Legal

According to Gartner “most organizations are ill equipped to deal with eDiscovery. And the reason is that the records management policies are misaligned with IT processes.” Thus, resulting in the disruptive nature of eDiscovery.

Who cares? You should. 

Why should IT and Legal teams care if their policies and processes don’t align? The main reason is the legal risks and unbudgeted expenses incurred for finding the information you need when you need it. The costs associated for collecting data, implementing legal hold and attorney fees for legal review are often overlooked and the reason is that many organizations are in reactive mode when it comes to eDiscovery. Usually a discovery process is caused by some trigger…pending litigation. When this happens, everything is done in a hurry and the expenses incurred are weighed against the downfall of not doing it. Everything is more urgent, therefore, the costs are not as heavily scrutinized.

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Being proactive pays off

Moving more towards a proactive approach towards discovery requires developing processes to deal with problems as they arise. To do this properly, it will involve a closer connection with the people who own the data and those that develop the policies to manage that data. And this is where the problems and differences arise. Legal wants to remove and delete data that is not viewed as necessary in order to minimize legal risks. However, throwing data away is contrary to what IT believes. If there is more data, they can always purchase more storage space. In addition, the IT team is not concerned with the content of the data, but more bandwidth, security and storage of the data. They do not understand what is needed for litigation or what constraints the Legal Team is subjected to.

To bridge the gap between IT and Legal, there needs to be a shared responsibility for data disposition. As issues like privacy and data protection land on IT’s plate, there will soon be a realization that those same issues are also common in a discovery process. Both IT and Legal are then working towards a common goal -- to mitigate legal risks and costs for the overall business. While the mission may have started with reducing the risks and costs associated with a discovery, the same processes can be leverage for compliance checks, internal audits, and records management.