Due to compliance issues and concerns surrounding the security of client data, the legal sector is often one of the slowest industries to adopt the latest technology. However, they needn’t be missing out on the benefits that the latest solutions can bring them, such as Cloud computing, because in fact there are products available that can cater exactly to their needs. I have researched the 5 biggest chellenges faced within the legal sector, so let’s take a look at the results…
1. Cloud & Cyber Security
When we discuss cloud in the legal sector, the usual concerns about security and privacy are amplified almost by an order of magnitude. A firm could absolutely use a cloud-based practice management solution if it had sufficient capabilities, but should they? Is operating a legal practice over the web secure enough? Our answer would be to not only cloud-base the software, but the entire ICT environment through a combination of infrastructure (servers and software) together with the desktops themselves. Then multi-factor authentication and context aware security could be added to monitor and lock-down the environment, keeping it essentially private – with only screens and keyboards at the user locations.
2. Evolved disclosure management & document handling
Surely one of the most challenging issues in law today is the handling of electronic documents. Physical paper was relatively easy to track and secure as there was a modicum of effort to make copies; but with electronic data it’s all too easy for copies to spread. Traditional file (server) systems are just not well suited to providing the level of version control, access tracking and auditing that the legal sector requires. Fortunately there are newer, object-based storage technologies with suitable software controls that can address this.
3. Remote / flexible working
If we have successfully addressed points 1 & 2, the possibility now exists for staff and partners to work and collaborate from anywhere. What needs to be considered here is how effectively the remote working tools are integrated with the billing system. Traditional PBX systems have for some time offered the ability to automatically integrate with the practice management and billing, but do web-chat, video-conferencing and the other new real-time-communication tools support this? These are questions to ask of your unified coms provider.
4. Data residency, compliant backup, archiving and DR
The physical location of the people is both more flexible but also well understood when we talk about legal jurisdiction, but what of the data? When moving data to the cloud, users need to have clear knowledge and control of the data’s physical residency or risk running into complex cross jurisdictional issues. Data forensics relies on absolutely certain time-date stamped copies of data, and Ponemon’s 2013 security survey found that “64% of respondents cited a lack of in-house expertise” when dealing with cyber-threats. Clearly this issue is best left to dedicated external specialists.
5. Data Analytics, automation and other “big data”
Once we have point 4 addressed, the question then becomes how the data can get smarter. New tools are becoming available to automate legal search, critical in the common-law precedent based system. The real challenge with these new big-data applications is the tremendous amount of processing power and compute resources required are costly, and often only used sporadically. It’s yet another perfect example of the value of working with an experienced service provider where these resources can be easily purchased on-demand.