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IT and legal up in a tree … d-i-s-s-i-n-g

Whatever their relationship in the past, IT and legal departments should probably be pretty tight these days given the expectation that financial regulations will intensify and litigation increase in the wake of the fraud, foreclosures, massive layoffs and other ills perpetrated by the greed of Wall Street financiers.

But a recent survey conducted by Osterman Research Inc. for Recommind Inc. suggests that the disconnect between IT and legal remains alarmingly entrenched. According to the survey, conducted in early January of 250 mostly IT enterprise employees, only 37% said IT and legal are working more closely together than a year before; 33% reported an “average” or “poor” working relationship between the departments.

While respondents generally held their legal departments responsible for policies concerning legal hold (73%), data retention (50%) and records management (47%), nearly three-quarters (72%) said that IT was expected to take the lead on all buying decisions. The disjunction no doubt will lead to many bad technology purchasing decisions, at a time when companies cannot afford to make mistakes.

Blind leading the blind

As the lawsuits come pouring in, expect more stumbles on e-discovery. The survey also showed that only 29% of IT respondents believe IT “truly understood” e-discovery technical requirements. A meager 12% expressed confidence in their legal teams’ understanding of the requirements. In any case, neither side is of much use when it comes to implementing e-discovery technology and initiatives: only 27% of respondents said IT is helpful in these projects; make that 12% for legal aid.

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