Law firms need to know where their intellectual property is at all times. They also need the ability to track who has accessed what data from where and what they did to it. Most important, they need the ability to lockdown information that should never leave the firm’s physical or digital walls.
Information governance involves processes, procedures and controls at an enterprise level to manage data. One aspect of information governance is the use of various software solutions to do just that – control and manage your data. For example, after developing a records retention policy, records management software can help a law firm stay in compliance with that policy. Further, records management can apply to both physical and electronic records. A retention plan isn’t only a space-saving IT strategy, it also assists with risk management.
Information governance also influences how employees collaborate outside your firm. Firms can use records management software to limit the choices for sharing documents. Limiting document-sharing to a specific physical site allows law firms to track, access and set security from within their document management system, allowing the firm control its data anytime, anywhere. Law firms that allow documents to be uploaded to third-party sites, like DropBox, lose the ability to view the histories of documents, including who edited them and other details, regardless of whether an employee accessed documents from an external or internal system.
Some of law firms' most valuable intellectual property is sitting right in their employees’ inboxes. Managing that content is crucial. Document management solutions provide law firms with control over what information is sent from firm employees to the outside world. Content management solutions provide firms with the power to remove hidden, or “dark,” data stored within documents by scanning the document for personally identifiable information and preventing the sending of the document until such data is redacted or removed. It can also force the creation of a PDF before sending an editable version of a file and even restrict what can be sent outside the firm altogether.
Further, as a time-saving measure, this type of content management also allows IT professionals to create rules-based actions that automatically follow the firm’s records retention policy. A firm could, for example, prevent data loss or accidental file-sharing by restricting the emailing of documents that include particular phrases or recipients. Similar rules can be implemented based on email recipients, or set to notify a partner when anything referring to a specific client is sent.
Ethical walls can easily restrict access to clients- or matters-based groups. This offers law firms an easy-to-use interface to manage restrictions over a large number of matters. Enabling reporting rules can allow a risk-management committee to review which matters have been restricted and who has access to the firm’s data.
While the above may be intimidating and seem complex, a good IT department or managed services provider who specializes in working with law firms can easily implement the solutions that specifically address your firm’s needs. No matter how a law firm accomplishes data security, it’s important it does – starting today.
Let Innovative Computing Systems advise you on and set up your information governance software tools.