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In-house lawyers face data crunch

In-house lawyers face data crunch

In-house lawyers are anticipating a rise in regulatory action over the next 12 months, but most are lacking confidence in their own ability to produce relevant electronic documents in response…

In-house lawyers are anticipating a rise in regulatory action over the next 12 months, but most are lacking confidence in their own ability to produce relevant electronic documents in response to legal or regulatory requests.

The results, according to a Deloitte In-House Counsel Survey of 209 in-house lawyers, indicates that with depleting resources in the wake of the economic downturn, the pressure is on for in-house lawyers to do more with less, while also dealing with changing regulatory requirements.

72 per cent of respondents expect to see an increase in regulatory activity in the next 12 months, compared to 62 percent who are not confident in being able to produce relevant electronic materials in response to such regulatory requests. Meanwhile, 56 per cent indicated their organisations had been required to produce electronic documents in the past 12 months.

"Now that people are being asked to respond to these issues they are finally starting to take stock of all their data sources and realising there is a huge amount of data that they have been collecting and are still collecting.," said Nicholas Adamo, lead partner of Deloitte's Forensic Data Practice.

Adamo added that despite tight resources, it's essential that those charged with data issues are proactive, rather than reactive.

"Those people who take the challenge now will be in a much stronger position than those who are reactive, and wait until they are asked to respond to find the task is simply too great," he said.

The survey, predominantly based on responses obtained in November 2008 and backed up by in-house roundtables in January 2009, might be different if collected now, even just four months later. "Anecdotally what we're hearing is that quite a few things have changed," said Adamo. "First and foremost, an even greater number of people believe that there will be more regulatory action."


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