The Beyond Blog

In Conversation with Jon Roscow

Jon Roscow on Records Management and Information Governance

As most of the world is now sheltering in place — and organizations large and small are finding a renewed appreciation for technologies that enable remote working — we wanted to remind our customers and partners that FileTrail is here to support your business needs as they change.

In the UK, we’re now working with Jon Roscow of Laureus Consulting, who is building awareness for our solution in the UK and EMEA, as we expand to support firms in those markets.

We asked Jon to share his views on why now is the right time for UK firms to evaluate FileTrail as part of their information governance strategy.

What are the ways in which UK law firms can benefit from what FileTrail has to offer in these challenging times? 

There are several. Of course, with everything happening in the last few weeks, there has been a significant focus on remote working readiness. The ability for fee earners and the business operations teams to get their work done electronically is critical. Many firms in the UK have already made the move to electronic document management systems. Even if they haven’t, most firms have infrastructure in place that allow their fee earners and at least some of their staff to work remotely.

And over the last few weeks, IT and operations teams have been working around-the-clock to make sure that their distributed working environments are operating securely, reliably and efficiently. They have also had to work with firm management to adapt certain practices — for example, approval processes requiring manual sign-off — to allow the virtual office to operate smoothly.

FileTrail can play a critical role in supporting agile working and streamlining processes whilst automating compliance with the firm’s information governance and retention policies. It is cloud-based, and in demos there is usually an ‘aha’ moment when firms realise that FileTrail can centralise visibility across all of their electronic repositories as well as their physical records.

What is brilliant is that you don’t actually need to move any document content. You can leave it in place because FileTrail integrates with NetDocuments, with iManage, with file shares — and with Iron Mountain and other physical storage vendor systems.

So if you do need to search for and retrieve records, you can do it quickly and easily via the web-based interface. All requests, approvals and escalations are tracked and logged electronically through a single system — FileTrail. I genuinely believe that applications like FileTrail are now critical to ensuring there is a clear audit trail of activity — who accessed what, when and made which decisions — in this new era of the distributed office.

Are many UK firms grappling with how to manage their physical records moving forward?

Given current pressures to become as ‘paper lite’ as possible, it makes sense that many firms are looking for ways to reduce the volume of physical records they have in storage to an absolute minimum.

Replacing a legacy records system and going through the exercise of finding and destroying all physical records that are no longer needed is an important one. The potential savings to the firm in terms of storage and retrieval costs alone are significant.

It’s a fine place to start and FileTrail can certainly help firms achieve this and more. The ability to log in to FileTrail and search for, identify and locate physical records for review and destruction is great.

The best approach for law firms over the long term is to take a holistic view where physical records can be managed seamlessly alongside electronic information — so that you can also ensure that you’re not keeping electronic documents for longer than necessary.

FileTrail can help with managing retention and disposition of electronic documents, so firms can further extend their information governance capabilities when they’re ready.

There was a flurry of activity among firms to become GDPR compliant two years ago. Now that the dust has settled, what are you hearing from firms about their risk and compliance efforts?

It has been nearly two years since the GDPR came into force, and law firms in the main are now more vigilant about not keeping personal information for longer than necessary.

As firms take a closer look at ensuring that they are following their own retention policies across all types of information, both client and non-client related — as well as any retention schedules specified by their clients in outside counsel guidelines — frequently they are finding the process of managing these requirements to be incredibly manual, inefficient and prone to error. This puts additional pressure on the IT, records, and risk and compliance teams, as well as fee earners who find themselves having to assist with gathering relevant documents for review and disposition.

Firms realise that the implications of getting this wrong are more serious than ever. The business and reputational risks of not complying with regulatory requirements related to information security and data protection — or with clients’ outside counsel guidelines related to data retention — are potentially catastrophic.

The good news for firms is that FileTrail can help to automate the process, so that you no longer need to manually track deadlines, manually search for relevant documents, and continuously chase various stakeholders for input and approval before records are finally disposed.

When retention workflows are automated, FileTrail automatically assigns the correct retention policy to each document according to pre-defined rules. Prior to the end of the retention period, FileTrail GPS triggers workflows for the review, approval and disposition of specific records, with notifications sent out to the appropriate fee earners, risk and compliance team members, general counsel or COLP and staff. The goal is to make the process as efficient and as painless as possible for each stakeholder.

Looking at the bigger picture, the ability to manage, monitor and report on what information assets your firm has and how long you plan to keep them helps to more accurately plan and forecast future costs, demonstrate compliance, and minimise risks to the firm. The potential benefits for firms in the UK and EMEA are tremendous.