Data Is The New Gold: How Are You Managing Your Legal Department’s Data?

Forbes Africa boldly declared that data were the New Gold two years ago. However, what is data, why is it significant, and what does it signify for the legal profession? This post will discuss what data is, how to manage it, the tools and best practices involved. It will also look at why legal departments must manage their data.

1- What is data?

Data is a collection of facts and figures compiled for reference or analysis. We continuously acquire and share data in the modern world, whether consciously or unintentionally.

Above all, data is the new gold. An organization’s ability to harness it successfully may either relegate it to the dark ages or catapult it into the future. It enables it to achieve its business objectives.

2- Data in the Legal Industry

Contrary to popular belief, the legal profession is a goldmine of data. From the information law firms acquire from clients, court records, and any other legal document like client lists. However, the issue with data in the legal sector is how firms manage it. In the legal industry, various types of data exist:

a- Unstructured data

The majority of data in the legal industry is unorganized. It is dense with data, facts, and dates.

b- Hardcopy data

What is the first thing that greets you when entering a lawyer’s office? A jumble of files strewn about. Have you ever considered what we see in master’s offices and courts? We live in a data-driven industry.

The primary issue is that the vast data in these files are inaccessible to anybody. The only one with access is the individual with physical access to them. The information is not easily accessible to anyone once the files are closed. Without softcopies, the data will be permanently lost if a fire or water damage occurs.

c- Legacy data

Legacy data is any data or information saved in an old-fashioned format or computer system. This renders it inaccessible.

3- Analyzing Data

Consider all the contracts and other legal documents lawyers possess. You will find there is no structured approach for preserving client data. Obtaining the most current records, let alone an easy method for extracting essential clauses, is difficult in such cases.

The standard approaches to data creation, storage, and management are alarmingly unsecured and susceptible to manipulation. There is no reason to take extra chances with data management in the age of technological breakthroughs.

4- What is the state of legal data management in the legal industry?

One of the primary challenges in the legal sector, explicitly concerning legal data, is a lack of involvement among critical stakeholders. There is a lack of effectiveness of processes and systems that rely on legal document data. Typically, legal departments or law firms lack ownership, accountability, and responsibility for the following:

Numerous variants

– Without a centralized repository for final versions of your papers, you run the danger of losing track of revisions.

Concerns Regarding Compliance

– Ensuring the security and accessibility of sensitive information and documents are critical for any organization. Even if you are not a victim of a security breach, you may still be at risk. Failing to adhere to established standards and carefully track your information may put you at risk.

Concerns about Productivity and Collaboration

– While digging through a mountain of paperwork consumes essential time, it can also stall critical processes or projects. Even if you locate the requested documents, you may not have included all pertinent documentation. If you store current versions of all documents in a cloud storage system, you can quickly access and share them.

Concerns Regarding Accessibility

– Using a cloud-based solution enables you and your key team members to access the documents they need. The team can access the data if they have the appropriate permissions. The firm will store the documents in physical files or a few selected personal email accounts and local folders. They will be accessible exclusively to the person who has direct access to these accounts and folders. When many individuals operate remotely without access to cloud-based storage, you will need to appoint someone to access the essential papers. They would need to scan and forward them to others who require them.

Operational Disruption

– When legal data is lost, the resulting implications on your firm’s activities are considerable. Numerous individuals are typically involved in determining the cause and scope of the loss and attempting to recover the data. This comes at a high financial expense and significantly impacts the business’s continuing operations. The severity of data loss impacts varies according to whether it is a simple breach or a complete loss of legal data. This may even result in shutting down the firm’s operations completely. It results in a loss of business until data restoration, or you discover an alternate solution. The more extended operations shut down, the more revenue you risk losing.

Resulting in a tarnished reputation and a loss of business

– Typically, the legal data handled is confidential. Under the rules of the privacy legislation, you need to notify all persons whom the data breach impacts. This would result in a loss of reputation and possible future business.

5- The advantages of data management

a- Increased productivity and teamwork

– With a single repository of data and the essential team members to access it, there is a boost in productivity. It allows lawyers and in-house counsel to cut expenses, save time, and focus on higher-value work.

– By establishing a centralized data repository, teams can improve their collaboration ability.

b- Coordination of communications and retrieval of documents

– Because of consolidating information and data, communication within a company becomes significantly accessible more straightforward. Papers are easier to access because you can store them in a single location.

c- Centralization

– If you’ve worked painstakingly to develop a management system that works effectively inside your system, maintaining peak efficiency will be tough. It isn’t easy when a crucial staff member is away from the office or hiring new personnel. Case management software’s centralized systems enable everyone to upload and obtain data from a single location, maximizing productivity.

d- Enhanced efficiency

– Greater productivity results in increased profitability. When you invest in legal case management software, you make a long-term investment. Many law firms are using case management solutions. They streamline various duties, freeing up critical time for legal advice, marketing, and client retention.

Data is the new gold, and law firms could benefit immensely from it with practical use. Not many firms are aware of the importance of the mountains of data they are sitting on. By switching to a more data-focused approach, the possibilities are endless.

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