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Lack of Collaboration Between IT & Legal Hinders E-Discovery

The average company in the United States faces more than 300 lawsuits, and companies with more than $1 billion in revenue face 556 lawsuits. That has increased demands for an automated way to collect, sort, cull, analyze, and present company emails, documents, and other materials to reduce the cost of manually complying with legal and regulatory discovery requirements. Despite that, legal departments and IT departments are not collaborating as much as they should, according to a survey of 250 senior IT managers sponsored by Recommind.

The survey results show that only 21 percent of IT managers who work for companies that average more than 17,000 employees said e-discovery was a "very high" priority. And only 37 percent said their legal and IT are doing a better job of working together than they did a year ago.

Part of the problem, according to Recommind, is who is accountable for these issues. The legal department "owns" e-discovery, according to 73 percent of the surveyed IT managers, as well as records management (47 percent of respondents) and data retention (50 percent of respondents). Yet, 72 percent of the time, it is the IT department that makes the decision on what technology to buy to implement those policies and procedures.

These conflicts are complicated because there aren't clear technical specifications for e-discovery projects, survey respondents say. Only 29 percent said the IT department clearly understands the technical requirements of e-discovery while only 12 percent felt the legal department understands the requirements. This leads to a lack of confidence that e-discovery will be implemented properly, and a lot of finger pointing when things go wrong. Only 27 percent said IT is "very helpful" during e-discovery projects, and only 16 percent said the same about the legal department.

"This data should serve as a wake-up call to enterprises and industry alike that we have a lot of work ahead of us if we are to create repeatable, accurate and cost-effective e-discovery response systems," Craig Carpenter, Recommind vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. "If enterprises are to minimize information risk and sustain growth during the economic downturn, IT and legal must communicate regularly, have a complete understanding of their respective roles and collaborate through each step of the e-discovery process, from project scoping to vendor selection to implementation to the actual mechanics of an event."

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