Heading lawyers off at the pass

There must be a reason lawyers are the brunt of so many jokes, for even in this day of political correctness no one seems to get too offended by those jokes. Then again, who else makes a bundle of cash off of the disputes of others? Unfortunately in the world of IT, the legal situation is no different.

A recent Cutter Consortium opinion piece , A Risk Assessment Before, May prevent Litigation After, gets to the heart of the matter. Today’s large-scale IT contracts are prone to litigation because they are often badly written, too full of legalese, not properly tied to the real world of IT and too static in nature.

“I am not a lawyer, most of my work is in software consulting, but the contracts are hideous, they are never mapped to what is actually happening,” said Tim Lister, author of the report and frequent expert witness in IT implementation disputes.

Lister, a principal at The Atlantic Systems Guild in New York, said IT contracts have to be more tightly written and state, as certainly as possible, who is responsible for what. Another important factor is to realize that IT contracts are not static and evolve as the implementation moves forward.

“You want to try to make the contract and ongoing document because at the time you commit to a contract, there are all sorts of things that have to be investigated,” he said.

“The idea that you have a contract on day one that sits there and is the document that is the explanation of the interaction between two parties is deeply na