IT and Legal: Why Can't We Be Friends?

In the eDiscovery sandbox playground, Legal Teams and IT are simply not playing well with each other – and that’s creating a big, expensive, risky and scary mess. And unless either side wants a “time out”or to be sent to bed without any Dora (though this is perhaps not a punishment), it’s essential that they learn to coexist and even collaborate when organizing for, and responding to, eDiscovery requests and tasks.

Or, in grown-up terms, everyone needs to know:

  • what to ask and who to ask when it comes to everything eDiscovery (requests, responses, and more)

  • what systems are in the IT landscape, what systems are in the legal landscape, and where they overlap

Sound like fun? No, of course not. But it doesn’t have to be dreadful either; not with a Data Map.

Data Map: Bringing IT and Legal Together in Harmony

A Data Map is the bridge between IT and legal. This little communication-enabler can deliver knowledge that resolves major headaches next time an eDiscovery “challenge” arises (and it will…oh yes…it will). A Data Map answer important questions like:

  • Where is your company’s electronically-stored information housed?

  • Is the data replicated? Where and in what form(s)?

  • Does your company cross-reference its application data with a list of active legal holds?

  • What about custodians who leave the company?

The Assignments

Now, relying on a Data Map is a good start – but there’s more to do. So here’s some homework for both legal and IT. (Yes, this will be on the exam.)

Legal:

1. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask IT why something won’t work or how something could be done better — it can only strengthen your position.

2. Be specific. In the IT world, everything needs to be specified, so try to frame your needs accordingly.

3. Communicate the big picture. Discussing the reason for a request could avoid a disaster (always a good goal), and open the door for the IT team to contribute information that makes your case.

IT:

1. Be flexible. A cool head is key. IT folks are legendary for figuring out what the problem is, and…less legendary at finding solutions. Be the solution; not the headache.

2. Don’t speak “geek.” Use familiar terms to help them understand what’s going on. Don’t add confusion by using jargon.

3. Answer questions and be helpful. A willingness to answer questions will build trust and facilitate realistic expectations. It’ll also increase your communication skills so you can be promoted to KING OR QUEEN OF THE IT-ITES, which is probably something you might enjoy (you get a parking spot, a bigger monitor, and a picture on your wall of somebody rowing or climbing something).

Staying Together

Alas, once you’ve created IT and legal bliss and everyone is holding hands, your next challenge is to keep things humming in the right direction. The best way to make this happen for the legal team is to publish an automated custodian “watch list” to the IT team. And from a bigger picture (corporate) perspective, investing in systems that enhance collaboration in both camps will pay for itself – and you’ll achieve workplace peace at the same time. Who knows? They might even start to like each other.

(Hey, anything’s possible!)

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