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IT and General Counsel Together At Last - Or Not

General counsel and IT need one another. The GCO needs IT to provide guidance on technology choices near the beginning of the eDiscovery cycle, and IT needs GCO for guidance on legal and business considerations.

Corporate culture often rebels against interdisciplinary teams formed from the IT and General Counsel's Office (GCO). Stereotypes rule: the GCO thinks that IT is a bunch of geeks who open their mouths and babble some language other than English. To IT's mind, the GCO is a bunch of technology dinosaurs whose egos won't fit through the door.

Neither image is true but when did that ever stop a stereotype? Meanwhile, interdisciplinary teams stay a pipe dream for way too many corporations, And as Scott Whitney of Mimosa Systems noted to me, very real cost savings go begging.

Let's look at what working together can actually accomplish in terms of lowering risk and gaining cold, hard cash savings.

  1. The further left you move on the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) - i.e., to collection, identification and preservation - the more that GCO needs IT's help. Traditionally, GCO hasn't much cared about this, but it's this stage that is proving so costly in modern eDiscovery wars.
  2. True ECA happens on the left-hand side of the EDRM. Early Case Assessment (ECA) needs the ability to search through relevant information early and fast. GCO needs IT to prepare potential data ahead of time, so that said data is ready and waiting in indexes and catalogs.
  3. A lot of early eDiscovery technology benefits IT, records managers and compliance officers as well as GCO. A single investment in this type of technology can bring real advances and savings to multiple business units.
  4. IT saves GCO from falling for snazzy presentations and buying the wrong product. Even if the product is a good fit, IT knows how long they'll need to deploy it and what will happen when they do.
  5. GCO helps IT to understand the reasons behind search and preservation, the very real risk of spoliation and the need for speed with meet-and-confer timing.   

The upshot is that GCO and IT need one another. GCO needs IT to guide it on technology choices near the beginning of the eDiscovery cycle and IT needs GCO to guide it on legal needs and considerations.

Christine Taylor, an analyst with The Taneja Group, has more than a decade of experience in covering the IT and communications industries. She has written extensively on the role of technology in e-discovery, compliance and governance, and information management. View Full Bio
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