Legal, IT Should Both Treat E-Discovery as 'Mission-Critical'

Lora Bentley
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5 Ways to Improve E-Mail Archiving

E-discovery requirements are just one of the things a good e-mail archiving system will address.

Since amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2006 brought discovery of electronically stored information to the forefront for many legal and IT departments, experts have said the best approach is for legal and IT to work together to solve the information-management problems that too much data and e-discovery requirements create. Companies were creating inter-departmental teams, creating new hybrid positions and engaging in a variety of collaboration experiments.


But a new survey from information-management software specialist Recommind indicates the connections made must have been few.


The survey of senior IT professionals in companies averaging 13,000 employees revealed that legal and IT departments were more disconnected in 2009 than they were a year prior. Take these findings, for example:

In 2009, 82 percent of respondents said that IT was "very involved" in e-discovery technology purchasing decisions, with legal being "very involved" 48 percent of the time. In 2010, IT's involvement has remained largely the same, dropping from 82 percent to 78 percent. The involvement of the legal department, however, has dropped dramatically, decreasing from 48 percent to 33 percent.

When I spoke with Recommind VP Craig Carpenter a few days ago, I asked him what he thought has caused or is causing the widening gap between the two departments on e-discovery issues. He pointed to three things. First, the economy. He said:

IT teams specifically weren't able to hire more people and the budgets were still locked down, so the same number of people had to do more things with the same budget, or in some cases even less budget.

And this was happening at the same time regulatory scrutiny was ramping up.


Second, the stopgap approach to compliance that IT departments used for 2007 and 2008 essentially backfired last year. Carpenter described the stopgap projects this way:

[A] lot of these were "bandaids," so to speak. They would roll out a box that would do a lot of culling...It would be a really helpful short-term solution, but it doesn't really address the underlying issues of too much data, stored in too many places, that isn't categorized or organized.

Finally, he noted that the novelty of e-discovery as a whole has faded after four years and many people don't see that it should be treated as a mission-ciritcal system. And that's the only way the problem is going to be corrected, he said.

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