For many organisations in the legal industry, staying up-to-date with regulatory compliance can feel like navigating a rickety bridge. It never stays still for long and there is always the fear that one false step could result in a disastrous fall. Read on to find out how technology can help.
The European issue
As if the Data Protection Act was not enough of a challenge, the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into effect in 2018 across the EU, could significantly add to the compliance burden. Or will it?
For now, there is no option but to assume that it will (and for any legal firm doing business in Europe, it clearly holds) and the stakes are high with potential fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover for certain personal data breaches. History would suggest that such fines will almost certainly be upheld so law firms need to have full confidence in the security measures of their IT systems.
Then there are the standards set out in the SRA handbook. Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) and Compliance Officers for Finance and Administration (COFAs) are primarily responsible for ensuring that firms meet these in full. But to do that, they have to work closely with both practice managers and the technical team to ensure that active steps are being taken to reduce any potential data security risks. This can mean some significant change, both cultural and technical.
For firms navigating the vagaries of global compliance, with ever-changing regulation to contend with, being able to 'turn on a sixpence' on an almost daily basis is key. That means having an IT infrastructure in place that allows speed and flexibility without compromising security or impeding adherence to regulation in any way. It can often involve having the right audit trails in place to not only be compliant but to be seen as compliant.
Because of increased regulation across all business practice, many clients are now demanding ever more fastidious compliance and reporting. That has a trickle down affect for legal firms who often have an additional layer of scrutiny to contend with. That can mean law firms having to develop policies, processes, procedures and training with full auditing and accountability in order to satisfy their own clients' commitments, even when these may not be directly applicable to the firm, adding to the ever-changing complexity of doing business. It's no wonder many refer to compliance as a 'burden'.
As a result, some law firms are creating a proactive approach and a compliance framework, which can accommodate ever-changing legislation simply and quickly. That means putting in place highly flexible but robust IT systems that accommodate such change easily.
It may be worth mentioning at this point that 4 out of 5 of the so-called 'magic circle' trust CenturyLink with their IT infrastructure, helping them become more responsive, more adaptive and more agile. That's because we have the knowledge, expertise and willingness to work with you to cultivate confident and resilient cybersecurity governance within your legal practice and minimise the fallout from any potential breach.
Not only that, our IT experts can help you stay compliant in other areas too. We can certainly help steady that rickety bridge and make the journey a safer and less stressful one for all involved. Give me a call if you'd like to know more.
Watch out for more legal industry article posts over the course of the coming weeks about why CenturyLink should be the natural partner of choice for businesses who want to maximise on emerging trends and have the agility to react to the changing needs of the market. If you'd like to learn more about our offer, please contact me: Steven.Harrison@centurylink.com