The Legal Battle of the Year: Security Vs Mobility
In insight / By Andy Lewis / 08 January 2018
The start of a new year is always an interesting time in the legal market. Family lawyers are often run off their feet with the spike in divorce applications and it’s not uncommon to see the year kickstart with a high-profile company going into administration resulting in contractual and staffing knock-on effects that reach far and wide. It’s also a boom time for some specialist firms like Nasstar client Northridge LLP who represent many premiership footballers as well as the Football Association.
For legal firms and specialist providers to the legal sector, it also gives us a preview into the hot topics of the year ahead. It’s an extremely valuable time to plan for the future as based on key indicators and data, we can predict key drivers in the market and adapt accordingly. As a business we do this by analysing The Armstrong Watson Legal Sector Benchmark, research by Legal Practice Management and Briefing publications as well as our own anecdotal experience of speaking to our 60+ legal clients every month during service reviews.
To me, it seems as the legal market is currently in somewhat of a dichotomy between the efficiencies and flexibility of the mobile workforce and the rigorous compliance obligations of data security. This proved to be the case at the recent Legal Practice Management Conference where the session topics were clearly divided. Half the streams focused on driving fee earner hours upwards and profit in the same direction – while also delivering the flexibility and modern way of working that the modern lawyer needs in order to be happy at work.
The other sessions concentrated on client data, cyber security, GDPR and the increasingly rigorous compliance obligations across the industry – a stark difference in topic. There have been several very high-profile hacks of law firms over the last year, and the trend will only go upwards, hackers know it is much easier to hack a large corporate firms lawyer than the firm themselves. GDPR also brings with it a sizeable fine, but for most SME firms – the direct litigation and resultant loss of professional reputation from a loss of client data would be fatal in itself. The time between a hacker entering a firm and being detected is on average 229 days, therefore many firms may well already have an issue.
The dichotomy for law firms is very clear. You need to adopt mobile working to drive efficiency, client satisfaction, employee satisfaction, billable hours and profit. BUT, you need to keep your data safe, deliver enhanced data protection, cyber crime countermeasures, robust security processes and technology to safeguard against losing your information.
The LPM Legal IT Landscapes survey of SME law firm show that 45% of firms have full mobility, a reasonable number. But it’s the fact that only 22% of firms have deployed Mobile Device Management that is the real eye opener. Mobile devices (by which I mean mobile phones, tablets and laptops) that are being used across a firm are so important, but are they being managed correctly? Ask yourself whether you can access company emails or any client data on your mobile phone, almost half the legal firms surveyed can. Now ask yourself what antivirus your phone has and whether all the apps and games on your phone are sanctioned by your firm as “safe”. Do you have some games on your phone that are used by your children? Games with backdoors into your phone can be a nice way for hackers to get into your device without you even knowing or getting a virus.
By now I’m sure the opportunity and issue are very clear. In the next part of this three-part series we will explore how we are delivering “secure mobility” to our valued clients in order to drive efficiency and modern working while keeping the door to their data firmly locked.
Contact Andy Lewis for more information.