U.S. companies already must comply with an astronomical number of regulations, but it will only get worse as the new administration works to correct problems that created the current recession. And as the regulations increase in number, the technology we use to meet their requirements will undoubtedly grow in complexity.
As such, IT and legal must increasingly work together to ensure that policies are correctly crafted and requirements are met. The more they work together, the more the lines are blurred, say several observers with whom I've spoken recently. Marie-Charlotte Patterson, VP of marketing for e-mail archiving software provider AXS-One, says the company's sales calls have llustrated the change in the past few years. In 2004, she says, the company sold solely into IT. Now, more often than not, those who are making decisions about archiving and e-discovery technology come from the legal department.
Guidance Software's deputy general counsel agrees. Increasingly, Patrick Zeller says, companies have compliance teams, or e-discovery teams made up of IT folks and people from legal. That's the only way they can ensure that both IT needs and legal needs are met when it comes to complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, e-discovery or HIPAA requirements, among others.
The trend is not limited to large corporations, Zeller says, and it's not going to decline soon. After all, technology is always evolving, and the law is constantly changing to "catch up." As Patterson put it, "There's no going back." Legal and IT will continue to collaborate.