4 Quick Tips to Help IT Improve Communications with Legal

By Michael
September 7, 2010

To say that IT and legal speak different languages is an understatement.

Communication_breakdown The problem is, legal burdens on companies grow daily. What’s more, the days when cartons of paper documents could satisfy the discovery requirement of a case are gone forever. That means IT, whether it likes it or not, must get along with the legal department if their organization is going to survive in today’s eDiscovery landscape. So here are four tips for IT pros to improve relations with their legal beagles.

1 – Be Flexible.
What the legal department asks often doesn’t coincide with what it needs. Don’t throw a fit when that first request appears in your inbox. Remain calm and probe the originator of the request about what he or she actually needs. In most cases, you’ll be able to find a way to satisfy the request with a minimum of disruption to the company’s earning power.

2 – Speak English.
While terms like backup, recovery, purge and delete have specific meanings to you, to a lawyer, the terms are just geek speak. The ramifications of any course of action requested by the legal department need to be explained to its members in plain English. And if you’re lucky, they’ll return the favor and drop their lawyerese when talking to you.

3 – Be Patient.
It’s just as hard for the legal department  to understand some of the intricacies of storage technology as it is for you to understand the requirements of legal proceedings. If you show less frustration in your dealings with legal and more empathy, chances are your efforts will be reciprocated.

4 – Be Helpful.
Pretend you’re on the help desk. Sure, you’d like to dress down a user who mistook the tray in their computer’s DVD drive for a coffee holder, but your advice will have more impact if it’s couched in helpful tones and not rancor.

These are simple rules, yes. But often times, they are forgotten in the heat of some (seemingly) unreasonable request or when work loads start to put a strain on your available hours.

Are there steps we misses? What is your advice when you need to work with the legal department that could help all of us avoid a communication breakdown?

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