IT and Litigation

Oct 6, 2004

Mary Mack

In the wake of increasing governmental regulations and ever increasing law suits, it's becoming increasingly important to ensure IT departments are directly linked to the current and pending needs of the legal departments.

In today's enterprise, more than 90% of all corporate data is created electronically. One of the most important issues in litigation is how to find and access the data when it is requested and ensure its admissibility in court.

Here are some of the top questions both IT managers and general counsel should consider for making the evidence collection process easier for all parties:

  • Does the General Counsel and CIO regularly sit down with each other to outline the types of lawsuits that legal could have to handle and proactively discuss what support might be needed from IT?
  • When Legal calls on IT, is it consistently a fire-drill (e.g. "This is a bet-the-company lawsuit. Drop everything and help me!") or is there a response process established?
  • Has the legal department articulated their business requirements for IT, so IT can plan their activities and budget for them accordingly?
  • Is IT comfortable that all the nuances associated with electronic evidence handling and have all of the requirements been properly conveyed by legal?
  • What systems are in place to help the company be compliant with corporate governance regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley?
  • Are the IT compliance/document preservation systems supportive of the legal departments needs when a lawsuit is filed?
  • Is there a IT staffer dedicated to supporting the legal department?
  • Who is the point person in the legal department assigned to interact with IT?
  • Millions of dollars have been won and lost due to a simple email that wasn't properly collected. By having a plan in place from inception, that aligns with IT processes with the legal departments' needs, today's enterprises can alleviate a lot of the headaches when they are required to collect the hundreds of gigabytes (or terabytes) of data associated with a discovery request.

    Answering these questions is the first step to understanding the internal needs of a company and ensuring the IT/Legal connection is intact for proper response.

    Mary Mack is an attorney with more than 23 years experience. As the director of Sales Engineering for Fios, provider of electronic discovery services, she helps customers define the scope of projects so they can effectively implement electronic discovery. Formerly a director with Data Recovery Services, Mack is certified in forensics tools.


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