Because managing sensitive data securely and efficiently is paramount, particularly in the realm of law, we decided to take a closer look at Microsoft 365 Advanced Data Governance (ADG). Designed to help organizations manage and protect their data while complying with legal and regulatory standards, the tool utilizes machine learning to classify, manage, and protect data across various Microsoft 365 services such as Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams.

Setup and customizable integration should be done with help and guidance from your technology partner, but the product is included with Business Premium licensing or higher.  

 Here’s a breakdown of how it works: 

  1. Data Classification: ADG automatically classifies data across the Microsoft 365 environment using built-in or custom classification labels. These labels can be applied based on the content type, sensitivity, or other organizational criteria. Machine learning models help in identifying and classifying data even when the specific content patterns are not predefined. 
  2. Policies and Rules: Organizations set up policies and rules based on these classifications. For example, the firm can create policies to retain important financial documents for a specified period or delete trivial emails after a short duration. These policies help in automating the data lifecycle management according to organizational, legal, and regulatory requirements. 
  3. Data Review and Actions: ADG provides tools for reviewing and managing data. This includes capabilities for searching, accessing, and taking action on data. For example, if certain documents need to be reviewed for legal reasons, they can be easily located and processed accordingly. 
  4.  Risk Management: The tool includes features for assessing and mitigating risks associated with data storage and transmission. It helps in identifying data that might be at risk of non-compliance or exposure and suggests remedial actions. 
  5.  Information Protection: ADG integrates with Microsoft Information Protection to secure sensitive data. It allows the application of protection actions like encryption and access restrictions automatically based on the sensitivity of the data. 
  6.  Monitoring and Reporting: ADG, of course, provides comprehensive monitoring tools and detailed reports on how data is handled within the organization. This helps in tracking compliance and understanding data usage patterns. 
  7.  Regulatory Compliance: Finally, ADG supports compliance with various regulatory requirements such as GDPR, HIPAA, and others by ensuring that data governance practices are aligned with legal standards. 

By leveraging these functionalities, Microsoft 365 Advanced Data Governance can help a law firm efficiently manage the complexities of data governance and ensure that their data handling practices meet compliance standards. Also, once implemented, the system is simply part of your MS ecosystem, meaning there’s no additional licensing to purchase, no third-party apps and no additional infrastructure needed.  

To learn if your firm can engage in Advanced Data Governance, contact your IT professional or Innovative Computing Systems to set up a conversation.  

Want to learn more about the benefits Microsoft 365 offers law firms? Read our last blog post, “Microsoft 365 for Law Firm Administrators: Five Things You Definitely Didn’t Know About the New M365.