2007: Could This be the Year Law and Technology Departments Begin to Function Together?

Organizations face many challeges from e-discovery, but perhaps the greatest hurdle is that the law department and IT department, respectively, do not report to the same person and are poorly coordinated. Well, sure, they both ultimately report into the chief executive but the IT and legal department have different agendas, strategic plans and do not speak the same language, by and large.

Inside and outside lawyers know they need technology more than ever to manage litigation, implement hold or preservation instructions and find what they need when they need it. With all the risks and attention on e-discovery and the admitted gaps in records management policy compliance in most every organization, perhaps this is the year the general counsel and chief technology officer work more closely together. The choices and challenges are seemingly endless, however, and the hard work is just starting.

The new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure took effect on December 1, 2006 and apply in all cases filed on or after that date. It will take about 100 days, or until March 2007, but the adversary system will be in for a rude awakening when the new meet-and-confer requirements finally kick in.

In the meantime, as you look at the seemingly endless choices among technologies emerging on the marketplace with a claim to be your “solution” to the e-discovery problem, move cautiously and involve the technology officer. More importantly, consider resisting the temptation to invest in a solution before you have evaluated existing business processes and identify gaps in records management policy enforcement. For those few who are ready to talk tech now, there is a nice compilation of the Best (and Worst!) of 2006 on findlaw.com.

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