The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – which came into effect 25 May 2018 replacing the old data protection directive – brought about some drastic changes pertaining to the treatment of personal data. And given the amount of personal information lawyers handle every day, these new regulations required the particular attention of law firms who needed to meet a host of new obligations. That is, of course, on top of all the other tasks and pressures associated with running a practice – further compounded by increased cyber threats, e justice requirements and the need to leverage technology to “do more with less”.
This post focuses on how law firms can comply with EU data protection regulations and keep up with other market demands, without adding to their workload. We will touch on how investing in the right technology can alleviate much of the stress by supporting law firms through the transition and making being compliant a breeze, now and into the future.
GDPR implications for law firms
Under the new GDPR, data controllers will have to take extra measures to comply with the new data protection requirements, beyond simply adhering to best practices. Legal regulations on individual rights, the requirement to keep records of data procedures and data breaches, and the need to implement the appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure an appropriate level of security represent new challenges for law firms.
So how can firms prosper in light of these new challenges? Technologically equipping your operation can help you meet obligations, increase data protection and prevent a data breach from happening in the first place.
Before getting started however, we recommend asking yourself the following questions related to data security and processes within your firm to gauge your current level of security in this area:
- Where is data physically located? If on a local server, is the vendor capable of preventing a large scale data breach? If on the cloud, can the processor guarantee bank grade security and disaster recovery?
- What security measures are in place to protect data from unauthorized access or loss?
- How long does the firm retain data and how it's stored?
- Which third parties have data access and how securely is it shared? (i.e. via a secure portal or via email)
- Do employees use their own devices and do they have secure access to files outside the office
- How often is data backed up and how long is needed to recover data in the event of a cyber attack?
- What is your firms' policy around paper files? (i.e. archiving, taking them out of the office)
Comply with EU Data Protection Regulations with Legal Tech
In the absence of a suitable technology to meet the increased data protection and security requirements of the GDPR, you may be leaving yourself open to fines and liability risks. However with the right technology not can you work more efficiently and securely, you will be able to outsource at least some of the liability risks to external service providers.
Choosing a secure cloud based practice management solution allows you to work at ease (with the resources you have!) knowing you’re GDPR compliant by ensuring you:
- Meet the highest security requirements for storing and processing confidential data and documents
- Share personal data and files securely
- Keep track of your information obligation towards your client
- Collect consent/opt in for commercial communication
- Assist you in fullfilling your obligations to manage client data rights
- Register and report on data breaches
With GDPR obligations now taken care of, law firms can focus their efforts on delivering the highest quality legal services to their clients, for years to come.