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Putting the IG In Information Governance – The Ins and Outs of IG

By Glenn Fischer posted 01-23-2024 15:49


Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of: Glenn Fischer, Global Director of Information Governance, Mayer Brown LLP 

Information Governance (IG) 
is a firm-wide approach to the management and protection of all data related to a firm and its clients, ensuring the information assets are handled securely and in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements. This includes the development and implementation of policies and procedures for the creation, storage, use, and disposal of data, as well as the use of appropriate technology and training to make certain all information is handled properly. For law firms, IG is crucial for compliance, competitive advantage, risk mitigation, and client satisfaction.

In this blog post, we will explore why IG is important for law firms, how to pitch it to your firm’s leadership, the consequences of not having a robust IG program and steps for implementing IG. 

The Importance of IG

Law firms manage large volumes of data, including internal operations, client information, and other sources regulated by external laws (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA), as well as adhering to outside counsel guidelines and internal policies. Failure to comply may result in legal consequences, damage to reputation, and loss of business. Having an IG program helps law firms:

·   Ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, as well as contractual obligations and client expectations.

·  Enhance security by preventing unauthorized access, disclosure, or alteration of sensitive or confidential data, and detecting potential threats.

·  Improve efficiency with enhanced data quality and accessibility.

·  Increase value by leveraging the data for insights and demonstrating expertise.

·  Reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary or redundant data and streamlining workflows.

How to Pitch IG

IG is an ongoing and evolving process that requires commitment and investment from the firm’s leadership. To gain buy-in from your firm’s leaders for IG, you should.
1. Align with Strategic Goals: Demonstrate how IG supports the firm’s vision, mission, and objectives.
2. Show Return on Investment (ROI): Quantify IG benefits, costs and compare scenarios using metrics and benchmarks.
3. Highlight Risks and Opportunities: Identify potential threats without IG and showcase potential gains and advantages with case studies.
4. Engage Stakeholders: Identify key decision-makers and influencers, understand their needs, and enlist advocates for IG.

The Consequences of Not Having IG

Lack of a strong IG program exposes law firms to substantial and potentially irreversible risks, including: 

• Non-compliance with applicable laws and regulations, resulting in fines, penalties, sanctions, or litigation.
• Data breach or loss, resulting in liability, damages, remediation, or reputational harm. 
• Inefficiency or waste, resulting in higher costs, lower productivity, or missed opportunities. 
Competitive disadvantage or irrelevance, resulting in loss of clients, market share, or revenue.

Implementing IG 

A few key important steps to consider when implementing IG in a law firm:

1. Develop an IG Framework: This should outline the firm’s IG objectives, roles and responsibilities of staff, and the procedures for managing information.
2. Train Staff: All staff should be trained on the importance of IG and their responsibilities associated with managing, protecting and securing information. This includes understanding the firm’s IG policies and procedures.
3. Conduct Regular Audits: Regular audits can help identify any gaps in the firm’s IG practices and ensure compliance with regulations.
4. Leverage Technology: There are numerous IG tools available that can automate many IG processes, making it easier to manage and control information. 

In summary, IG is crucial for law firms, safeguarding information, ensuring compliance, and enhancing efficiency. It’s not a one-time project but an ongoing process, demanding continuous adaptation to evolving technologies and regulations. With the right approach, law firms can transform IG challenges into opportunities!