3 Ways Law Firms Can Get Information Governance Right

Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by Gui

As remote work continues, law firms are transitioning rapidly from legacy solutions to digital solutions. Attention is shifting from preserving business continuity to looking at how lawyers are accessing and protecting data while they try to stay productive at an unprecedented time.

The hasty shift to work from home caught many legal teams unprepared for remote work, and many lawyers are now working from home without assistants just steps away to help manage data files. Legal teams are realizing that if case matter isn’t being captured or shared well, it’s curbing collaboration on files, hampering productivity, and threatening information security if data transits without protection.

Inefficiencies accessing case matter & unnecessary storage costs

Inefficient discovery may be the first data access issue lawyers encounter while working remote. One member of the legal team tries to find case matter and can’t, or uses documents they realize are out of date, losing hours spent working on them. But there are other burgeoning issues including retention – not so much holding onto files long enough as failing to consistently execute on disposition of documents within the prescribed time frame leaving them unnecessarily subject to discovery. And the impact of inefficient data access and unmonitored storage costs legal teams significant amounts of time and data storage costs.

Whether or not lawyers know the term “IG” or information governance, these are the issues that arise when legal teams don’t have convenient information governance tools in place. Or, when contract management, document management, collaboration/knowledge management, and records management tools are in place, law firms report high degrees of user dissatisfaction, as seen in the chart below.

“In addition to managing their own documents, firms take on significant amounts of data from clients and other sources for every case they work. Different practice areas manage different types of information, but all of it becomes subject to the firm’s data policies. Simultaneously, firms must adhere to each client’s respective outside counsel guidelines, making execution of information governance especially complex for lawyers.” Law Practice Today.

Houlihan Lokey, Legal Technology Market Update, Fall 2020

Common hazards law firms should watch for

Lawyers are hard wired to detect risk, but they aren’t infallible. In a high pressure environment focused on moving cases forward, legal teams may be tempted to cut corners in managing data. The work arounds can become productivity hurdles fast. Hazards to watch for:

  • Over-use of locally stored files – More content can find its way onto local hard drives, unlikely to be deleted when no longer needed.
  • Siloed content – When speed and convenience take priority, content sharing and data security often suffer. Either other lawyers cannot access files or files are shared via upload or email to an unsecured app.
  • Shortcutting records management – There may be policies in place to have important content reviewed and retention managed, but the process may break down if content sharing tools aren’t in place meaning records can go undeclared and unclassified.

“What will keep legal teams up at night…The same thing as IT leaders. Data. Across privacy legislation, compliance and security, data in its many forms and massive volumes is bringing new and heightened risk to companies of all sizes.” Law Technology Today

The good news is that if your legal team recognizes these barriers to productivity and information governance are occurring, you can quickly put in place tools to get information capture and retention on track, without slowing down legal teams.  Start with these three steps:

1. Simplify capture, collaboration, and legal records management

What do you need to put in place as a foundation to support productivity and information governance for legal teams during remote work? There are 4 key priorities:

  • Centralize management of information – know where your data resides.
  • Automate classification of documents and capture metadata for rapid discovery.
  • Apply and enforce retention policies by identifying records that are due for disposition and managing workflows for review, approval, and destruction.
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and client requirements and capture an audit trail of all activity.

Catherine A. Pray and Derek M. Duarte of BlackStone Discovery advise: “Strive to design a workflow that does not involve any data transfer. Remember, every time data is transferred there is a risk of compromise, and every location where a document resides is a potential point for exfiltration that must be secured. Minimize data transfers and minimize data replication at every point possible.” Law Practice Today

If your legal team is on Microsoft 365 (formerly called Office 365) you already have a centralized information storage hub with rich capabilities for easy file capture, and automated classification and retention called SharePoint Online. You can bring the tools of SharePoint right into Outlook and the Office apps lawyers use most to make managing and sharing case matter simple.

2. Make capture and classification of case matter convenient

To support adoption of Microsoft 365 tools by legal teams under pressure, you’d be wise not to expect lawyers to change how they work. If your legal team is like most, they use Outlook email, Microsoft Word, and Teams during most hours of their day. They may not even realize that Microsoft 365 is built with SharePoint as it’s information hub. Let them continue to work productively in the tools they know and bring capture, classification, and retention tools into them with Colligo.

3. Bring information governance for law firms into Outlook

Colligo’s Email Manager and Content Manager for Microsoft 365 work together to let legal teams conveniently capture and classify case matter, keeping sensitive content protected and supporting records management.

With Colligo Email Manager for Microsoft 365, law firm members can stay in Outlook and save emails to SharePoint, add retention labels and metadata for quick discovery later. It’s an add-in that brings SharePoint into Outlook to help organizations take control of their information governance by making record capture frictionless for users.

Colligo | Blog | Remote work implications for law firms & getting information governance right

Further, with Colligo Content Manager for Microsoft 365, legal teams can explore their file repository (SharePoint) right from Microsoft Outlook. Content Manager empowers legal teams to search, view, and share links to the latest version of case files right from Outlook. Efficient search and browsing can save lawyers significant time.

Talk to us about how we can enable convenient capture and collaboration on case matter for your legal team. We can have Colligo solutions deployed in days without IT involvement.

Convenient case matter capture, collaboration and retention for legal teams.

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