Improving eDiscovery: Creating a tighter collaboration between Legal & IT

One of the intriguing benefits that organizations can realize as they move toward a more integrated information governance strategy is improved collaboration between interdepartmental teams. This is especially true of collaboration between legal and information technology – two groups that often exhibit a rather acrimonious relationship. It’s not difficult to understand how the rift between legal and IT arises, both parties are often forced to comply with externally imposed deadlines to produce information. Since much of this information is stored electronically, the legal team cannot begin to review it for relevancy until IT is able, often through a very long and labor intensive effort, to make it available. Repeated over time this cycle can breed resentment causing the legal team to view IT as a barrier to productivity and IT to view their legal colleagues as having unrealistic expectations.

One of the advantages of my role at Sherpa Software is that I have the opportunity to meet clients from a diverse set of industries and learn first-hand how they address the eDiscovery process. Through this experience, I’ve seen two successful strategies for bridging the legal/IT divide. One is a cultural approach and the other is a technology based approach. Sometimes I see both strategies combined, but either can work equally as well on its own to improve productivity through tighter collaboration.

Presence of an eDiscovery team
An earmark of the cultural approach is the presence of an eDiscovery team. Usually this is a relatively small group (two to five people) drawn from both legal and IT who are chartered with being the lead resources for any eDiscovery request. Dedicating a team to the eDiscovery function helps form an esprit de corps that breaks down the ‘us vs. them’ mentality often found between legal and IT. Since they are not distracted by other projects, the group can focus on establishing processes that streamline the eDiscovery workflow. One downside to this approach is that dedicated teams can be expensive from an HR point of view. For this reason, they work best in organizations that have frequent and complex eDiscovery requirements.

Using a technology approach
If your company is too small to support a dedicated eDiscovery strike force, consider using a technology approach to improve collaboration between the groups. Solutions like Sherpa’s Altitude IG platform allow organizations to separate ‘content access’ from the ‘search and review’ portion of the process. In this model the IT team is responsible for infrastructure tasks such as provisioning application servers, deploying agent software to access the content, managing access rights and establishing collection points on network storage. These tasks can all be completed well in advance of any eDiscovery request thereby providing a self-service environment that permits the legal team to:

  • address new requests immediately by concentrating on creating matters
  • administer legal holds
  • build search requests (keywords, etc.)
  • and review results for responsiveness

If your organization needs a more effective way of responding to occasional eDiscovery requests, consider researching a technology approach. Our team would be happy to coordinate a demonstration of how Altitude IG can improve collaboration and efficiency for your next eDiscovery project.

For more information, register for a brief demo of Altitude IG. Take the first step toward reaching new information governance heights!

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