We recently conducted a brief informal survey of law firms of various sizes in the US and UK regarding the remote working challenges they are facing — and the implications for information governance.
Business Continuity Plans in Action
The current global pandemic has put firms’ information management capabilities to the test. On the whole, firms reported that their prior investments in disaster recovery and business continuity planning, as well as infrastructure required for agile working, have paid off. One firm shared that their incident response team met every morning for three weeks to deal with specific issues as they arose. And several weeks into the crisis, most firms have been able adapt reasonably well under the circumstances to remote working for all lawyers and staff — without a significant impact on client service delivery.
At the same time, firms listed a number of critical areas where they are working to address specific gaps, adapt firm policies and procedures, and minimize security risks. These include:
- Availability of laptops, monitors, peripherals and other remote working equipment for all support staff (in addition to lawyers)
- Secure remote access to documents in firm-managed information repositories for all employees in compliance with firm policies
- Defense against cyberattacks and an increase in COVID-19 related phishing scams
- Adoption of electronic signatures and notarization
- Adoption of secure document scanning apps on employee smartphones
- Use of image-on-demand services to retrieve paper-based records as needed
- Migration from paper-based billing review processes to digital review of invoices
- Collaborative review of certain types of documents such as title plans, maps and deeds
- Consistency of application delivery across all platforms
As they make changes to their internal processes, information governance leaders are understandably concerned about maintaining compliance with information security standards such as ISO 27001, as well as regulatory requirements and clients’ outside counsel guidelines.
An Accelerated Transition to Digital
To what extent do information governance leaders view the current crisis as an opportunity to advance IG initiatives?
There is a strong consensus that the current crisis has demonstrated how important it is to “go digital” and become less reliant on paper as a matter of necessity.
Many respondents want to ensure that any progress that has been made in adopting good remote working practices is not lost when things return to “normal.”
Stuart Whittle, Partner and Business Services and Innovation Director at Weightmans, stated:
A business analyst in the UK commented:
In terms of next steps, respondents had a range of responses, depending on where they are in their respective information governance journeys.
Ken Kroeger, CIO at Kutak Rock, listed the following points as lessons learned for the future:
Steve Dagleish, Head of Technology at Shepherd and Wedderburn, said regarding his firm’s response to remote working:
One records manager commented:
Another respondent predicted:
Finally, there was broad consensus that remote working will become more commonplace in the future. As one CIO put it:
How FileTrail Can Help
We understand that the transition to a fully digital remote-capable work environment goes beyond setting up laptops and VPNs. We can assist your firm wherever you are in your information governance journey.
We have designed the FileTrail experience to be seamless regardless of where you are — working remotely or in the office — with technology that allows you to:
- Centralize management of multiple information repositories — including both electronic documents and physical records — by providing an integrated view via a secure web-based system
- Automate classification of documents and assignment of the correct retention policies
- Enforce retention policies by identifying physical and electronic records that are due for disposition and automating workflows for review, approval and destruction
- Reduce the volume of physical records stored and transition to a paperless or more paper-lite environment
- Ensure compliance with regulatory and client requirements and capture an audit trail of all activity
We also work with and can recommend consulting services partners that can assist with updating your information governance policies and procedures as needed, in light of our new reality.
While we understand that there are many urgent issues that need to be addressed in these challenging times, we feel strongly that an integrated approach to information governance and records management will yield dividends as your firm digitizes and progresses toward even greater agility.