On building the foundations for keeping legal data safe
On building the foundations for keeping legal data safe

This article is a joint contribution by Christiane Müller-Haye, Director of Global Strategy & Products at Phoenix Business Solutions, and Nitesh Prakash, Director of e-Discovery at Morae Global. 

In a law firm or legal department environment, where accuracy is crucial, managing information is vital to daily operations. The role of a Records Manager, who ensures that policies are set in place and procedures are managed and met, is important to maintaining an organisation’s adeptness whilst ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and regulations. There is a large competitive pressure on organisations to jump on the legaltech hype. However, without the fundamentals of information management in place, many don’t get to leverage these opportunities.

A fast and effective information management system should always be behind a legaltech initiative, helping law firms and departments make the right business decisions and measure everything that matters.

It is popularly said “Data is the new oil.” The genesis relates to the past when mineral oil was the most lucrative commodity and every country was running for it. Data has replaced oil to become the most valuable commodity in the 21st-century. The usage of the internet in India has increased by 52% in a decade which shows that every class is consciously or unconsciously possessing e-data.

Consequently, both lawmakers and courts are understanding the importance of e-evidence and e-governance. This country is constantly working to improve in data protection and data management. Nonetheless, the Covid-19 situation and social distancing practice has given major thrust towards e-filing and e-hearing in Indian courts.

Like other western countries, India is also moving to adapt the change in the approach towards data. Digitization of Indian Courts, amendment of The Evidence Act to include electronic records in the purview of documents, the introduction of The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 in Indian Parliament clearly… all of this clearly shows the future of e-data in India.

How legislation and the legal system in India is adapting to the growing need to regulate e-data 

Information management is no longer just about reducing the risks, but increasingly about helping organisations, through effective records management, rethink the way they manage processes as well as helping them to become more customer-centric. This is particularly important in light of the changing regulations, the growth in information and the tools organisations need to handle this.

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in 2018, acted as an incentive for organisations to pay attention to their data, examining how different

departments use and store it. This was an important move, not only because it is necessary for organisations to be aware of what documents they are able to store, but also those which they legally aren’t authorised to. 

In line of GDPR, India also introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, is the outcome from constant nudge from the Supreme Court of India. The court while deciding the Justice KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India case with a 9 Judge Bench affirmed that Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees to each individual a fundamental right to privacy. Followed with the Srikrishna Committee’s recommendations and draft on privacy protection. This is definitely going to provide protection of privacy to individuals with regards to their personal data and regulate the data sharing and publishing to an extent.

Despite industry awareness of this, there are still a number of organisations that aren’t implementing these changes. With unexpected regulatory investigations able to pick up on any stored data that should have been deleted, it is not worth the risk. The repercussions on your organisation could be vast; from data breaches to stolen data, organisations will only end up with disappointed customers and an adverse reputation.

Information Architecture

Enabling better data-driven decisions is becoming high on the priority list for many organisations, predominantly due to pressures to manage information growth and scale on demand, but data for data’s sake won’t help you. Many organisations think that digitalisation is the answer; however, jumping on any new trends such as AI or machine learning won’t bring the benefits it has the potential to if you haven’t got an information management system in place, as it is this that will offer the structure and strategy needed to successfully implement other technologies.

Information is a critical operational asset for legal firms, so they must get to grips with all the data they hold and where it is stored. After classification and analysis of the data, organisations must enforce and adopt a number of procedures and policies detailing how company and customer data should be formally handled. A Records Manager will be able to ensure this approach is put into practice and that the entire organisation adheres to it. 

Furthermore, once a process is agreed upon, it is essential that the roles and duties that organisational personnel are taking on are clearly defined and communicated to them to ensure that the process remains efficient, and behaviour consistent.

A different perspective on technology

Law firms are in the information business and data security plays a large part in this. To mitigate privacy risks, organisations must ensure they have a secure information management system in place. This means taking the broader implications of the technology implemented into consideration; a quick fix is not the solution, although it might work in the short term, you are leaving your future data exposed. Organisations must take into account what technology is a smart investment that will not only help the organisation’s customers to be more efficient and safe, but will also drive business profits forward.

Law firms will always be attracted to the new technology that hits the market, with the hope of jumping ahead of the competition and attracting new clients. However, making sure you have the right processes, technology and people in place before you make this leap is central. This means understanding how to use your data efficiently, smartly, and securely. The term ‘secure’ isn’t limited to preventing organisational data breaches, but also encompasses suppliers, as this process opens up the ability to show current and potential customers that security procedures can be adhered to, giving them the ability to rise above the competition.

Compliance is king, so implementing the right document management system is key to improving law firm agility through better access and use of information. This is what will enable your firm or legal team to enhance efficiencies and manage information, as well as growth and scale on demand.

  • Nishant verma
    October 5, 2020 at 5:21 am

    Certainly data management is need of the hour at this juncture. Be it may in any discipline or the legal one . One of the significant feature of the same is how to manage it in such a way as to when it is required urgently , should me made available without much effort. For an example there are so many tools in the market called case finders . They provide the relevant precedents on a particular issue. Some are efficient and some are even more efficient . These case finders saves a lot of time for a legal practitioner from accessing the physical library and finding relevant material on a particular issue .
    In my opinion still there is a lot of scope for improvement in these case finders and its efficiency can be taken up to a higher level .
    The digitalisation of the oldest of the court records is on the cards. How it has to be managed so that it is easily accessible and be secure at the same time is quiet a task . Therefore, data management in this field may be next big thing here. The same applies to the entire legal fields.

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