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Identifying the right data management model for your organisation is a big decision in today’s digital economy where businesses are looking to maximize the value of data. Such efforts often involve information centralisation in an offshore location with data collection from across countries (where the business has presence in) to draw insights that can result in better efficiencies, greater value and cost savings for clients. 

However when it comes to the legal industry, there are several factors to be considered by law firms looking to have their data shared beyond geographical boundaries. While legal technology service providers can ease the pain of information management, it is important for law firms to design a strategy that defines their data management model. 

According to Mik Sharma, Director, Law Image, “The strategy must examine the nature of data that the firm deals with based on the industries, clientele and markets they serve. It should also examine the statutory requirements for managing their information.” 

Data can be classified as private, confidential and public. Both private and public data can be processed anywhere. This means law firms can have such data offshored in locations that provide a labour cost advantage. Legal technology providers can manage all their data at their offshored centres on cloud and provide quick access and availability to data as required by the law firm.  

When it comes to confidential information, law firms need to exercise diligence in identifying data that is related to government or large public companies. Any information that should not be accessed by another country’s government is deemed to be confidential and hence should meet the data sovereignty requirement. Data sovereignty is the idea that information is subject to only laws and governance structures within the nation it is collected. 

Such confidential information should not be processed or hosted outside the country of origin. A legal technology partner that supports a true onshore data processing strategy can help law firms meet the data sovereignty requirement. Not only is the data processing part important, but equally important is data hosting and management.

“Cloud services offer many major benefits. These need to be carefully considered with the risks associated with data loss,” says Philip Scorgie, Independent Consultant. 

Confidential data after being processed can be hosted on an onshore public or private cloud. In a private cloud set up, while the information is hosted within the data centre of the law firm, the entire data management and back up is also then the responsibility of the law firm. Where as a public cloud offers the required security and the service provider is completely responsible for managing the entire data. 

An important requirement with public cloud hosting is that confidential data should only be hosted with a local solution provider that runs their business locally and hosts all the data within the country.

“With an efficient data management strategy, law firms can choose to deploy an onshore, offshore, nearshore or hybrid data management model,” adds Mik Sharma.

The hybrid model offers cost efficiency that is associated with offshore/near shore model and benefits from confidentiality, security and mostly importantly data sovereignty that comes with a true onshore process. 

Further saving in cost can also be explored with the business continuity plan/framework. With a clear classification of information in the hybrid model, each category of data can have a different recovery time objective and recovery point objective assigned. This will help law firms keep the overall business continuity costs in check. 

Data management as a managed service: Defining the data strategy requires in-depth understanding of how information needs to be identified, classified and then managed. The entire data management model can also be a managed service provided by a legal technology provider where they work closely with the law firm’s in-house IT department to define their data strategy. This will go a long way in helping law firms create an effective, sustainable hybrid data management model giving them peace of mind and cost savings. 

About Law Image
Law Image is a specialist information management company. We support law firms and government departments across Australia. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Melbourne, we have offices in Sydney and Brisbane. We are also looking to expand our footprint in Australia based on our clients’ requirements. With a completely on shore, in-house processing business model, Law Image helps leading legal firms and government departments comply with their data sovereignty requirements. Law Image has to date processed millions of documents: printing, hard copy and electronic processing for various projects including support for Royal Commission work.