Automation is a hot topic in the legal industry and 2018 really seems to be the year that firms are investing significantly in automation technology. Even though the benefits of automation are numerous, Briefing’s Legal IT Landscapes 2018 report found that there is a lot of ground to be made up when it comes to making it a reality for staff.
Human resource (HR) departments typically generate and handle copious volumes of paperwork – employment contracts, appraisals, policies, employee handbooks, forms, templates and the list goes on. These documents contain some of the most sensitive and confidential personal data that an organisation might hold. Of course, many departments in large organisations deploy HR software such as PeopleSoft, but these systems are designed to manage data, not documents or emails.
A recent piece of research shows that 42% of IT security incidents are caused by employee actions and 74% originate from the extended enterprise – i.e. customers, suppliers, etc. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that 40% of businesses are seeing security incidents rising since 2015, with hacker threat down to 26% in 2017 – from 33% in 2015.
Should good quality service come at a premium? And does a premium price guarantee a top-notch service from the technology provider? To provide some context to these ruminations, with a move towards value-based pricing, law firms today are having to justify their fee rates, especially if they are charging more than their competition. Most commonly, they validate fee rates based on their depth of experience and skills on the subject matter areas and the quality of service. This instils confidence in customers that they will be well represented and served by the law firm in question vis-à-vis any other legal services provider. So, shouldn’t the same criteria be applied to the pricing and quality of service provided by technology providers offering Support services?
Recently, we have witnessed a renewed interest for contract management in corporate legal departments. The benefits of this function to legal departments are inarguable – it delivers time savings and tangible operational efficiency. Given the variety of contracts that businesses enter into with internal and external stakeholders, suppliers, partners, outsourcers and so on; an automated approach helps manage these documents across their lifecycle – from contract assembly through to termination.
Digital transformation has become a fashionable buzzword in recent months, but to my mind it is about targeting specific areas of the organisation to ensure that business processes and standard procedures are adhered to as a matter of routine, which in turn contribute to efficiencies.
The frustration of legal departments when trying to secure budget from the business for legal-specific solutions is an open secret. Typically, in corporate organisations, the IT department holds the overall budget for technology and so has the final say in what tools the legal department can deploy. Invariably, due to a lack of understanding of the requirements of the lawyers, IT departments prefer to deploy solutions that they believe will be beneficial to the whole organisation – from an adoption, cost, implementation, maintenance and user benefit perspectives.
What makes a good Support Helpdesk? The latest survey conducted independently by iManage highlights that Ascertus is very highly rated for the quality of its Support services by customers. We have also significantly improved our rating from last year. Such instances are always a good time for introspection – what are we doing well and how can we improve our offering even further?
Recently, I was commissioned by an organisation of significant size and in a high-risk industry to demonstrate to the Board the vulnerability of its employees to criminal hackers using non-technical means. Using Open Source Intelligence to gather information on a selection of the most senior individuals in the organisation, I was able to reveal how easily and legitimately, I was able to engage with them, physically access their office building; and if had I intended to do so, use the insight to hack into the business. It was an ‘eye-opener’ for the Board!
This is what malicious social engineers do – they leverage the ‘Perfect Storm’ – created by the organisation’s culture, the employees’ frame of mind and lack of security awareness and the ready availability of detailed personal information, to use social engineering and the “human factor” to gain business sensitive information for their own financial gains.
Although e-billing is playing a role in the commercial relationship between a growing number of UK/European in-house legal departments and their law firms, there are still many organisations that aren’t yet reaping the benefits of e-billing. It’s often said that numerous non-US organisations don’t “get” the value of e-billing. I believe, it’s not that they don’t “get it”, rather the e-billing solutions, until recently, didn’t necessarily deliver against the needs of European organisations.