How to Bridge the Gap Between IT and Legal Departments

1 - How to Bridge the Gap Between IT and Legal Departments
2 - Establish a Document Retention Policy
3 - Set a Standard for Communication
4 - Define Clear Roles for All Parties
5 - Create Data Maps
6 - Test Your Data Maps
7 - Deciding on the Technology and Who Will Pay for It
8 - Cut the Jargon
9 - Hold a Retrospective Meeting
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How to Bridge the Gap Between IT and Legal Departments

by Darryl K. Taft

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Establish a Document Retention Policy

Throughout litigation, data retention policies are closely reviewed to ensure companies are complying with regulations. Work with a legal expert in your field to create an air-tight policy, mandating what data should be maintained or destroyed within the organization. More importantly, enforce the policy to ensure employees are sticking to the rules.

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Set a Standard for Communication

Legal finds itself regularly educating IT on the legal implications of simply moving data, updating infrastructure or altering metadata. At the same time, IT tends to find itself explaining the importance of backups for disaster recovery and compliance. A smooth process starts with clear and regular communication when it comes to data management, so there's no confusion in the event litigation occurs.

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Define Clear Roles for All Parties

Before the e-discovery process, identify key stakeholders from IT, records management, legal, HR and finance to ensure everyone is on the same page to help push approvals through. Make sure to generate a charter or the purpose of the group, as well as a guideline for each department represented. Meet on a regular basis to provide updates on upcoming changes that could affect the e-discovery process.

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Create Data Maps

In advance of e-discovery, collaborate with legal and records management to develop a data map, accounting for all the data repositories within the organization. Be sure to designate a point person responsible for this information. This will help legal teams quickly identify the location of records, a life-saver in the event of litigation.

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Test Your Data Maps

Once you've created the organization's data map, test it periodically. At the rate and volume data is created today, it's critical that your maps check out—meaning ensuring new data is added and old data is removed; no data should slip through the cracks.

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Deciding on the Technology and Who Will Pay for It

Implementing data management software can put rigor behind a company's retention policy. Once you've identified your data management software, come to terms with who will carry the budget. Remember, at the end of the day, you're all playing for the same team.

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Cut the Jargon

Each side has its own buzzwords: "legal hold," "data migration," "collection" and "metadata." How can IT and legal understand each other at all when they're speaking two different languages? Cut down on jargon for clearer, more concise communication.

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Hold a Retrospective Meeting

The retrospective meeting should identify how you could have done things better. When litigation is over, come together to identify what worked and what didn't. Tweak the document retention policy and data maps to help things run even more smoothly next time. Remember, the process will always evolve, and it's important both departments regularly communicate to work toward a better end result.

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