Recommindlogo_2011.png Working well together is a skill that most of us learned in kindergarten. However, for IT and legal departments, it’s a skill that they are still learning to master. But according to Recommind’s third annual survey on the working relationship between corporate IT and legal departments, the two departments are getting better about working together.

Works Well With Others

According to the report (PDF), which surveyed senior IT managers at enterprises averaging 17,500 employees, both IT and legal are making e-Discovery a higher priority, which seems to be bringing the two departments together. To be more specific, the report highlights a few promising trends.

In 2010, 54.5% rated the relationship between legal and IT has good or very good. In 2011, 52.1% rated it as such. Yet despite the slight decrease, there are other indicators that the relationship between the two is improving. Almost 67% report that legal and IT are meeting to collaborate or strategize at least once per quarter (compared to 48.4% in 2010) and fewer respondents across departments rated e-Discovery as a low or very low priority than they did in 2010.

As the relationship improves, so does their confidence about their technical knowledge about eDiscovery. 66% of respondents said they understood the technical requirements of e-Discovery "pretty well" or "very well," compared with 52.4% in 2010. Only 21.8% said their legal department understood the technical requirements of e-Discovery "not at all" or "not too well," as opposed to 35.3% in 2010. Has everyone become better educated about e-Discovery in the past year, or does working together really enhance the wisdom of the crowd?

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Regardless, there is still much more to learn. IT’s top frustration in working with legal is they are still not "understanding/respecting the technical complexities of e-Discovery." What goes around comes around, however. When asked what the legal department’s top frustration is when working with IT, respondents most often said, “trying to influence decisions traditionally made by legal” (26.7%).

Such frustration may lead some to wonder why it’s necessary for IT and legal to work together in the first place. Well, it’s not just about serving their own needs anymore. As company culture changes, so does the focus on e-Discovery. As social media becomes more prevalent, IT-legal interaction is centered around social media.

A Christmas Miracle?

For the first time, the survey asked about social media and found that 30% of respondents reported that the IT and legal departments at their companies collaborate on “e-Discovery involving social media” at least once per quarter. Additionally, 34.7% of respondents said IT and legal collaborated on "crafting or implementing social media policies" for the first time in 2011, and 24.5% cited "e-Discovery involving social media" as the number-one and number-two results, respectively.

It isn’t surprising that social media is becoming more integrated within e-Discovery -- it’s been on the yearly prediction lists for a while now. These survey results seem to indicate that the time has come to make it a reality.