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Leaving Las Vegas: An Attorney’s Reflections on eDiscovery after Gartner Data Center

Created: 12 Dec 2011
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A common perception about IT professionals and lawyers is that they do not work together cooperatively.  Ask an IT professional about lawyers and you may get a puzzled or even a dirty look.  Indeed, you may not even get an answer as the IT professional silently walks away.

That in fact happened to me a few times while attending Gartner Data Center in Las Vegas this past week.  My colleagues invited me – a lawyer – to attend this IT-focused event.  The purpose for doing so was to better understand the most pressing demands IT professionals face with respect to eDiscovery.

Happily, most of the attendees I spoke with did not walk away silently once they understood that I was an attorney.  Many were intrigued that I would attend the conference and opened up to discuss their eDiscovery concerns.  I was fascinated by what they shared.  Two of the most common concerns were:

  1. Legal’s refusal to involve IT on critical information governance issues such as document retention and backup; and
  2. Organizations’ reluctance to spend money on the right data archiving and eDiscovery tools.

The first issue is, unfortunately, all too common in corporate America.  In order to have effective information governance, uncomfortable corporate bedfellows – the legal and IT departments – will need to cooperate.  This means they are working together in a collaborative fashion.  Both parties are essential for developing effective document retention policies, timely and proper litigation holds and a comprehensive data collection process.  By working together in such a top-down fashion, organizations can better ensure that their eDiscovery process is defensible and not fatally flawed.

The second concern usually arises from ignorance about the dangers of eDiscovery.  Why acquire expensive data archiving and eDiscovery tools when the enterprise has been successful to date without them?  Simply put, an organization needs to prepare for legal and regulatory actions.  For in today’s economic climate, they will almost certainly occur.  And with more than a decade of eDiscovery lessons from courts and regulatory bodies, history teaches that proactive governance – empowered by the right technology – leads to success in eDiscovery.  Such technology includes archiving software as well as eDiscovery search and analysis tools.

By getting legal and IT on the same page and empowering their efforts with effective technologies, organizations will address IT’s concerns and better position themselves to prevail in eDiscovery.