Clients demand value for money from their legal advisors and firms have increasingly turned to technology to streamline processes and increase efficiencies. Technologies such as cloud, mobility and artificial intelligence have driven the legal revolution over the last decade, enabling more agile workforces, higher levels of efficiency, as well as alternative business models.
But with every new technology or process, there are also great risks. Lawyers work with highly sensitive data that requires tight cybersecurity and data compliance, as well as access across multiple offices within different jurisdictions. With this in mind, how do you strike the right balance between implementing the latest technologies and processes whilst mitigating the risk for data breaches, hacks and other cyber threats in an industry which is typically very risk-averse?
Any data breach will put a law firm's credibility and reputation on the line, as well as incur significant financial penalties. As law firms are an attractive target for hackers due to their vast amounts of sensitive client data, extra steps must be taken to secure digital assets.
The first step is to ensure that your firm meets the standards and requirements outlined in the SRA handbook via your elected Compliance Officers for Legal Practice and Compliance Officers for Finance and Administration. Furthermore, from a behaviour standpoint, you must increase awareness of risk across your firm by promoting behavioural changes amongst staff to mitigate potential breach points such as accessing work via personal devices or opening spam emails.
Similarly, from a technology standpoint, practice managers and IT staff will need to work together closely to create robust strategies for securing company data. This strategy will differ between each and every legal organisation.
Securing third party access
Unfortunately, external hackers and negligent insiders are not the only possible source of data leakage for legal firms. Many firms have introduced various online features such as case trackers or client login areas which enable client interaction or collaboration on various cases.
However, allowing access to third parties requires additional security considerations. For example, appropriate measures need to be put in place to prevent a client's login details or data being compromised.
In this case, a reliable IT partner that understands the legal frameworks within which your firm operates can help you strike the right balance. Your IT partner will help you optimise your client-facing technology without losing out on a robust security infrastructure. For example, you can move from an internally hosted practice management suite to an externally hosted and managed solution - or a web-based service. In many cases, your firm will be able to reap the benefits of being cloud based - enabling agility, various levels of access to clients and third party partners and greater efficiency - without leaving your digital assets vulnerable.
Bringing your firm to the future
Once a firm's critical technology and behavioural processes are in place, it will be in an excellent position to start evolving further. As consumers and businesses across all industries are increasingly expecting more for less, law firms need to increase their value for clients by streamlining processes and improving efficiencies.
Updating your firm's technology and digital strategy can accomplish this and can help to support a digital transformation driven by analytics and artificial intelligence. However, as long as the concerns and security worries are overcome, there are many other additional benefits which a law firm can gain, depending on the flavour of technology it embraces.