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Make Legal & IT play nicely together!

One of my colleagues summed this up perfectly; he said you want to remove the V from “Legal Vs IT.”

There you have it, problem solved. Legal Vs and IT. But it’s not as easy as that is it?

I regularly receive fan mail from CIOs and IT Managers who are going head to head with their Legal departments, and sometimes Lawyers who are trying to get their point across to the IT department.

Those are the days I feel like a tech version of Dr Phil.

Lets take a step back and look at where the Legal andĀ  IT departments interact. On a basic level they both provide services to each other; one becomes the customer of the other, and vice versa. (Apologies for the latin, I feel obliged to use a little for the lawyers who are reading. They, along with Doctors and people who finish The Times crossword keep that language alive.) But as you dig deeper into the line of business applications users require there is one that sticks out as being the sole domain of the Legal user. Litigation support and ediscovery applications.

The analyst firm Gartner tell us that ediscovery is one of the major drivers behind email archiving, it could well be ‘the’ driver for email archiving. For the IT department provisioning a usable and scalable ediscovery solution generally means large amounts of budget and certainly a truck load of disk space and processing power. For the Legal user it means having access to an effective discovery solution that allows them to perform from the Early Case Assessment (or Identification) phase right through to the Presentation phase.

Generally that’s where the problem lies.. Legal users demand access to data whilst the CIO tries to balance the cost effectiveness of storing data against the risk of deleting it. Yes disk is cheap but when you add up all of the paraphernalia required the shopping list becomes quite a challenge, and for the many companies not used to experiencing theĀ  special joy and happiness that an ediscovery request brings, justifying the budget can be hard.

If I were Dr Phil I might say something like;

Learning to support each other isn’t something you can change overnight, this will be a long slow road, sometimes painful and sometime joyous. But learning to see the problem from the others perspective will make it much easier to solve.

Legal and IT departments are like step-children, they have only recently needed to get on and become friends. Historically they both work in their own little universes but today they each rely on the other to perform. So for one day or one week get them to swap toys, put the Legal users in ITs shoes and IT in the Legal team. Get them to really examine where the other is coming from and see how cooperative they become.

If they don’t drop me an email and I’ll see if I can line up Dr Phil.