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European in-house lawyers 'must work with IT staff'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/04/13

It's a truism to say that General Counsel in European companies need to form as many links as possible with the rest of the organisation - given the importance of their role, it's crucial they have an idea of what is going on at all levels in order to keep everything under control and cope with any potentially problematic situations before they come to a head.

Nicholas Spearing and Satyen Dhana of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, writing in Lexology, recently stressed the fact that IT departments should be a particularly central area for in-house lawyers.

While some of us may yearn for the days of fountain pens, typewriters, pipes and compulsory headwear for all men over the age of 12, the genie is well and truly out of the bottle when it comes to the impact of digital technology on legal teams.

"Most evidence in European and UK anti-trust investigations is now contained in electronic documents, emails and even voice recordings. So, all in-house lawyers with any responsibility for regulatory investigations need a real feel for their company's IT infrastructure," the lawyers claimed.

They pointed out that European in-house lawyers should try and be aware of where their servers are located - especially when outsourcing has been used to improve processing power, something that can lead to major complications if the EU moves to seize data, and will also be crucial when the singularity occurs and computers inherit the earth.

How data is offered to regulators is also something that should be considered, with a number of different options available, the experts concluded. Ultimately, knowing the IT team is the best way to achieve all these aims and ensures that both departments can work in tandem in the event of a crisis situation.