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By Rob Garretson  |  Posted 12-06-2006 Print

Corporate litigation is on the rise, heightening the need for CIOs to work with legal and compliance officers on e-discovery.
The rising cost of e-discovery and the need for better ILM is creating some strange bedfellows, as CIOs are forced to work more closely with legal and compliance officers, along with records-management and human-resources departments, to develop and enforce effective data-retention policies.

"CIOs and chief legal officers have never been the best of friends," notes DOAR Litigation Consulting's Croce, who nonetheless recommends that "CIOs befriend the general counsel" and attempt to understand the challenges faced by the legal team. "If they don't do that in a positive, proactive sense, the bull's-eye will be on their backs when there's a litigation or regulatory investigation," he warns. IT and legal departments should not only collaborate to develop data retention policies, Croce advises, but possibly even jointly budget for new systems, which could save money on discovery and litigation expenses while trimming data storage costs.

"It really is a collaborative process," echoes consultant Gable, who recommends the formation of a steering committee whose members have enough executive clout to mandate policy companywide and represent IT, legal, compliance, records management, finance and HR functions. "What you don't want to do is have one department writing checks that the others can't cash, so you've got legal saying 'we're going to do this,' and IT saying 'how are we going to do that?' "

"It often boils down to who owns records management or content management, and leaders who are willing to take the risk of implementing something that will require the modification of behavior for almost everyone in the company," Wolf insists. "And there needs to be someone at a very high level who will take responsibility for minding this issue, day in and day out."

And although the CIO isn't always the best judge of the business value of specific pieces of company data in his care—other corporate functions should drive that evaluation, experts say—the buck typically stops in the IT department.

"It's going to be a tough world for the CIOs to really deal with this," Croce adds. "It's one of those situations where, if they get it right, unfortunately, they probably won't get the medal, but if they get it wrong, they'll certainly be feeling the heat."

Ask your General Counsel:

How much do you budget for litigation and discovery costs annually?

Ask your CEO:

Will you provide CXO support for the development of a companywide document and data retention policy?


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