Cooperation from Another Perspective

I gave a presentation yesterday at the local ARMA luncheon meeting and we discussed document retention policies and the law.  AS always, I speak in an informal manner and encourage questions so we had a good discussion among the attendees about  litigation hold strategies and how they relate to document retention policies as well as new developments in e-discovery law.

In the course of the last topic, I mentioned the Sedona Cooperation Proclamation and immediately had reactions form the attendees about the need for internal cooperation in the enterprise setting.  Several attendees had read the recent New York Law Journal article by Adam Rosman which posited that the major problem with such policies is in the implementation and not the drafting.  And in fact, when I asked how many attendees had a policy, 2/3 answered affirmatively but more than half of them admitted they had problems with implementation and user compliance, which was directly in line with the 2006 study by NextPage on this exact subject. 

What was not so predictable was the reason the attendees gave for this problem. Virtually all said it was due to a lack of cooperation and communication among records managers, IT staff and legal departments.  One person specifically said ” I wish we had a Cooperation Proclamation to make IT and legal staff talk to each other”.  The sentiment was shared by all the corporate  people in attendance,. The opinion was the document  records managers fashion retention polices that neither legal nor IT staff felt were important, often because those two departments don’t sit down and talk with each other about how to implement policies.  In fact, after hearing about several of the court decisions I discussed, one manager asked ” What is MY liability if I fashion a policy which is never enacted by the Legal Department?”

Now the implications here seem staggering.  How can we expect a corporate client to convey to their outside counsel the information necessary to fashion the documentation for a meet and confer on electronic records when their isn’t enough internal cooperation to have fashioned and implemented ESI policies? And is the lack of cooperation among records managers, IT staff and legal departments really that prevalent?

I’m reaching out to other people in the market to see what they say   …. I’m curious as to what other people have experienced in this area.  If you have comments please post them here or email directly.

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