Key Issues to Address in an Information Governance Policy
Information Governance (IG) is a firmwide approach to the management and protection of a law firm’s client and business information assets.
Information Governance is an important but sometimes overlooked element in a firm’s overall Risk Management program. With Risk Management being at the top of the list of ‘Annoyances’ in the 2016 ILTA technology survey, and Email Management and Information Governance not being far behind, all law firms should be focused on IG.
A well-crafted and executed IG program is also important for enhancing client service as well as cost management.
There are several areas that should be addressed in a comprehensive IG program. These include:
- Where documents should and should not be stored, including a document management system (should be primary), network shares, cloud storage and local drives.
- Defining the ‘official’ record and what should and should not be included, which can differ by practice area. This should address how emails, voicemails, IMs, video discussions, hardcopy materials, etc. will be handled.
- Information Security such as ethical wall and matter-based security as well as HIPAA – PII and more.
- Use of mobile devices, including MDM and encryption.
- Use and Management of Third Parties, with a focus on ensuring that the third parties meet the Firm’s standards.
- Document preservation and destruction, including; establishing a formal legal hold policy and protocol.
- Document retention policy, which can also vary by practice area. A standard for the firm should be defined, as well as ensuring that client retention requirements are addressed.
- Policies for exchanging documents with clients, addressing issues such as the use of cloud services.
- Matter opening and communicating polices with clients, including language in the engagement agreement.
- Disposition of materials such as matter closing and final disposition.
- Processing of records for lateral hires as well as departing attorneys.
Implementing a new Records Management system or focusing on a risk management program provides an opportunity to address IG policies. In coming months we will take a deeper dive into the areas noted above as well as other aspects of IG. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding any aspect of Information Governance. We would be pleased to answer them and assist you with your IG program.