Bridging the Legal-IT eDiscovery Gap

Imagine being informed of an impending lawsuit that would require the excavation of all electronically stored information within your organization. Firefighting comes to mind. The common response and practice of many organizations is to form large teams of personnel across the enterprise are led by Legal in response to these allegations. As IT would soon expect, Legal soon bombards them with questions about the organization’s electronically stored information. After all, why would IT expect Legal to understand or know where to begin in issues that are rooted in IT technology? However Legal quickly needs to know:

  1. How much electronically stored information exists
  2. Where does the information exist
  3. How do we get to the information
  4. How can we inventory and keep track of the discovered information

To make matters worse, I can only speculate on how the un-trained IT department might respond to these questions from Legal:

  1. “500 GB”
  2. A list of email and storage servers with directory structures
  3. “We’ll give you appropriate access to login or view network shares”
  4. “Doesn’t Legal have record-keeping practices? We can provide application support to possibly mimic your processes electronically.”

While IT might be able to answer Legal’s questions, only item 4 will begin to address the real problem. While Legal knows what they need, only IT can provide the support and processes required to supply Legal with relevant information. For this reason, many Legal departments quickly find out that they need to lean very heavily on IT to help them with the eDiscovery processes.

But how should Legal use IT resources? By the time the eDiscovery request comes in, it is almost always too late since it forces companies to immediately react which is not the way IT works best. IT likes to plan, gather requirements, develop or purchase solutions, test and validate implementations, and then deploy. And, while a company might not know when impending litigation will occur, this is not an excuse to hold up IT and be ill-prepared for eDiscovery related requests.

The time has come for Legal to engage IT to help them find a solution that will meet their specific eDiscovery needs and reduce the risks associated with not having a solution. The purpose of IT is, or should be, to deploy solutions that can be used efficiently and easily by an end-user–all the while, keeping in mind that IT does not like to babysit solutions. IT will support solutions but prefer to deploy ones that can be managed by the solution’s stakeholders.

Legal therefore needs to be actively involved in a solution that it can easily use and administer, or have administered. Solutions such as LookingGlass from Estorian help in this regard. EDiscovery is all about securing, gathering, searching, and then distributing electronically stored information. With LookingGlass from Estorian, the enforcement, or controls, to accomplish eDiscovery is handled through an automated policy engine. Here is a brief list of the key benefits that shows how LookingGlass can drastically minimizes IT’s involvement while helping to maintain a flexible and agile environment for eDiscovery:

  • Flexible adoption and enforcement of new regulatory or policy requirements
  • Actively organizes and retains messages according to established policies
  • Allows retention policies to be changed and automatically back-dates those changes in the archive
  • Reduces false positives, preventing unnecessary drain of staff time and resources
  • Intuitive interface makes application easy to use without IT help
  • Ability to moderate and enforce policies across multiple content types including image attachments
  • Self-service capabilities ensure accuracy and provide ongoing identification of areas for improvement

While the burden of eDiscovery might leak into different areas of an organization, ultimately the stakeholders, which is in most cases Legal, must take an active role in providing requirements. With these requirements, IT can effectively help select a solution that will meet requirements and hopefully allow for future growth without additional costs. With solutions such as LookingGlass, IT can offer interactive intelligence to electronically stored information and place the power of search and retrieval in the hands of the stakeholders who need access to the correct data, whether that is Legal, HR, Security, Risk Management, or Compliance.

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