Some bias comes built into these results since 70 percent of 54 departments responding to a recent survey belong to the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). ILTA’s 2011 Law Department Technology Survey gathered data in December 2010. It found that for legal departments with 50 or more attorneys, 78 percent reported that their departments have their own, dedicated IT group, as compared to relying on corporate IT.
The advantages of employ-your-own include more control over how IT staff spend their time, perhaps better quality because you select them yourself, and better knowledge of the law department because they are housed there full time. If the IT department charges for its support, the cost might be about the same. The downsides, though, include that there can be an us-versus-them feeling sometimes, there is no career path inside the legal department, and the position can be insular.
Advantages of relying on corporate IT staff include more resources behind them and greater familiarity with the infrastructure and standards of the company. The disadvantages include periodic rotations so that just when they have learned a fair amount they whisk off to another assignment. Also, they may have limited knowledge of or interest in legal department technology. Further, who can effectively manage someone else’s staff and agenda?