The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many lawyers to work from home, which has activated business continuity plan protocols for many firms. However, according to the 2019 Ameraican Bar Association (ABA) Legal Technology Survey Report, only 41% of law firms noted that they have any sort of continuity plan, with large firms being more likely to have a plan than mid-size and small firms.
For law firms, technology is a key player in maintaining business continuity amidst this crisis. Those firms with cloud technologies, remote work policies and trained staff can make the transition to remote work fairly smoothly. Whether or not your firm has a comprehensive plan in place, there are IT experts here to help. Here are some of the challenges law firms are facing and the ways these experts are helping them navigate them successfully:
- Transitioning to and planning for long-term remote work
In a remote-work model, technology is the lifeblood of the operation. Those firms that lack comprehensive cloud software or ample hardware including laptops and mobile devices for each team member may fall behind when it comes to continuing cases or bringing on new clients.
It is likely that businesses will continue working remotely and practicing social distancing for weeks to come, which means scalable IT support services are vital. Experts are ensuring that their clients have all the necessary technology and that it is properly configured so they can continue to work with little to no downtime.
- Ensuring private data is secure
Cyber criminals are well aware that lawyers are working from home and that sensitive data may not be as secure as it is in the office. We have seen a spike in phishing scams, including fake websites and phishing e-mails appearing to come from the CDC or WHO. Additionally, while at home, there may be a larger variety of devices connected to Wi-Fi networks, such as gaming consoles or smart home appliances. These may put work-related devices at higher risk of being hacked.
The rapid transition to a remote-work model has put pressure on law firms to quickly introduce new security protocols. Firms need to establish and reinforce cybersecurity policies and best practices specifically for remote work. Training staff is also essential, so they are aware of any procedure changes. For those in highly regulated industries, passing client audits may be harder than before. Special consideration must be given to compliance of such regulations as video conferencing becomes this season’s version of ‘in-person’ interaction and mediation.
- Keeping clients safe without interrupting e- Discovery and digital forensics matters
Strict social distancing recommendations may complicate data collection because of the limitations of physical collection between staff and clients. Industry-leading forensics and collection software requires remote access through a private cloud. Consequently, firms without private cloud access will have to postpone the completion of projects.
However, e-Discovery advancements allow for the remote operation of data centers, eliminating significant delays while keeping staff safe. Through cloud usage and remote collection, eDiscovery and digital forensics team should be fully prepared and capable of completing eDiscovery projects remotely.
Thus, through the strategic application of technology, IT experts are helping legal professionals across the country to continue to conduct business effectively despite the new work environment the coronavirus has created.