In the span of the last few decades, email has become a key communication avenue to coordinate case proceedings and counsel to a law firm’s clients and co-workers. Now more than ever, law firms are leaning on technology to deliver essential and innovative representation, but this is only possible so long as firms are connected to the internet.
Additionally, lawyers and partners may not always recognize the direct connection of their IT stance on email availability. When a technology disruption may impact access to email, it is critical to ensure proper budgeting and resources for IT systems and data protection—but this is where firms often fall short.
A recent Clio survey found that 67% of clients consider how quickly a firm responds to emails and phone calls as a “big factor” in their choice of which lawyer to hire.
Yet some firms may not acknowledge their email responsiveness as having a direct impact on client acquisition and retention. And, if email is truly a priority in terms of interacting with clients, then steps must be taken to ensure its ongoing access and confidentiality. This makes having a plan for the mitigation of downtime a business-critical decision.
Bound to a code of ethics and conduct, lawyers who frequently interact with clients using email place those systems under requirements of due diligence to deliver prompt and accurate counsel.
Depending on a firm’s client base, there may also be compliance regulations for the retention of email data. For example, if a firm represents a client from the healthcare industry and handles patient data in any capacity, then that case information would fall under the purview of HIPAA/HITECH compliance. Similarly, clients from the financial sector extend their compliance to anyone who handles their information.
To be sure firms are meeting their standards of due diligence, IT teams within firms must get better at communicating the value of IT systems to ensure the proper investment for continuity. Leadership may not always know of the risks their email systems present. This attention to the needs of lawyers in delivering technology availability will also help to cut down on “shadow IT” adoption of non-secured devices, since pain points in current practices usually drive this activity.
Cybersecurity threats are driving a lot of new technology modernization among law firms. Most firms are using either Office 365 or Exchange as their email. However, this does not mean these systems are immune to outages. Plus, if an outage occurs, there’s no guarantee data won’t be lost—which could be a problem if your firm is supposed to have a retention policy, or if that data is in use for case proceedings.
While those firms with Office 365 may have recently received an update with helpful security features, a failure to educate employees for proper usage will do nothing to leverage a best-of email account. Similarly, if a disruption occurs at your firm, email may become inaccessible if no alternate plan exists—which, as you can imagine, has a lasting impact on reputation.
Firms who might’ve shunned expanded IT budgets are now giving them a second look, as a means of reputation preservation. The 2017 BDO Cyber Governance Survey revealed that 60% of company boards are now taking steps to improve their stance against ransomware threats. However, no matter the cybersecurity investment, all it takes is one wrong click to expose sensitive information or take systems offline.
In discussions with partners and IT teams, you might have heard the term Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) tossed around. While it’s still a rather new concept, many law firms are adopting it as an availability solution to protect their most critical assets.
DRaaS comes in various levels of service for law firms, and offers the following key benefits for email systems:
Bluelock’s tiered solutions leverage Veeam technology to replicate data from Office 365, and can use a variety of options to replicate Exchange servers, such as Double Take, Veeam and Zerto. No matter the setup at your primary location, we can devise a way to bring your email data to our cloud for secure and fast access at a time of need.
Lawyers depend upon technology to provide representation, so it’s imperative to ensure continued access to email and the sensitive information within those messages. This not only falls within standards of due diligence, but also as an insurance for the livelihood of a firm.
The availability of email depends upon two halves: the servicer (i.e. Microsoft) and the state of a law firm’s technology systems. If one half goes down, email access goes down altogether. For this reason, it’s useful to protect the information exchanged within those messages to ensure data isn’t lost after a breach or outage. DRaaS is an excellent way to accomplish this retention, as well as achieve a cloud-based means of access to email if a disruption occurs within your firm.
To learn more about the benefits of DRaaS beyond email data retention, read our article, “What Is DRaaS, and How Can It Help My Law Firm?”
Here are four key benefits of DRaaS that can empower IT transformation within your law firm.
Both clients and regulatory bodies now expect an always-on law firm, and with this comes the challenges of remaining competitive and performing due practice in cybersecurity.
Because the data load has become hard to protect as new innovations and threats crop up, the legal industry has struggled to maintain profitability while keeping up.