Legal Departments Have Important Role in Information Governance

Pressures associated with information management are increasing, and as a result, organizations are beginning to view information governance – which refers to storing the right data, for the right reasons, for the right amount of time – as a critical asset. As information governance touches on legal obligations, operational requirements and risks, in-house legal departments are likely to become involved in the effort to translate information governance concepts in to usable strategies. It is essential for in-house teams to understand the business impact and legal implications of information governance in order to implement best practices.

The right data
Determining what is considered the right information to govern is the first step in implementing an IG program. Information such as financial statements, database records, e-mail, invoices and other customer records, general office productivity documents, digital images, telephone call recordings and other audio files, instant messages and video files are a sampling of the type of data corporations need to consider managing.

The right reasons
Understanding the right reasons to govern information is fairly straightforward and can assist in ensuring information governance productivity and efficiency. By taking advantage of data retention concepts, such as knowledge sharing and data reuse, in-house teams can reduce the need for internal resources to recreate documents and associated research. The allows lawyers and paralegals to focus on more complex tasks associated with a project. Proper data management also allows departments to easily share information, which leading to more productive collaborations.

A strong information governance program can also reduce a legal department’s need to utilize costly outside counsel as a means of supplementing internal resources. Through the use of information governance, an in-house team is better prepared to deal with incoming tasks and challenges that come up in the course of a project and avoid the scramble in an effort to locate all of the data it needs for a given project.

The right amount of time
Determining how long to store data is also a critical aspect of information governance. Not only is it import to prevent an overload of data on company servers, but there are often regulatory concerns to consider. Without the occasional culling of data from a company’s archives, the amount of data stored can become overwhelming and counterproductive to retrieve specific data. However, there are numerous regulations both domestic and international that require an organization hold on to data, whether it relates to a specific project or court action, for a set amount of time for use in investigations and other regulatory matters. To that end, a strong information governance program must have established criteria for how long the organization must hold on to the various types of its data.

This legal market briefing was created by the analysts at ShiftCentral and is presented through an exclusive news and analysis partnership with Big Law Business. ShiftCentral’s team helps law firms, practice groups, and legal departments keep up with fast-changing developments in the business of law. Learn more here.