Most law firms I speak to these days are keen to embrace the commercial benefits that remote working can deliver for their firm, allowing their fee earners to work from home or other remote locations, thus maximising their time and productivity as well as facilitating more flexible working practices.
However, given the wealth of highly confidential data that law firms are dealing with on a daily basis, there are naturally also concerns about the implications of providing remote access and whether this could compromise client confidentiality, SRA compliance or data protection.
There is no doubt that a myriad of risk management issues exist around cyber security, as those who read my previous blog “GCHQ Warns of Cyber Threat to the UK Legal Sector” will have seen.
However, there is much that can be done to mitigate these risks, and enjoy the best of both worlds, by deploying well designed, well managed, highly secure technologies that ensure that no data ever leaves the security of your law firm’s servers.
One of the common misapprehensions that I come across is that the only way to provide remote access to your systems is to migrate to the cloud. This is not the case. There are technologies available where all your data can remain on your servers, in your offices, and you can setup a secure remote connection into them for authorised members of the firm. Effectively this is giving you all the benefits of the cloud, but without the concerns of losing control over your data, not being sure where in “the cloud” it is being stored and what jurisdiction that may be in. It also mitigates concerns firms may have around the financial stability or technical competency of the cloud firm they are entrusting their data to.
With an on-premise remote working solution, you are simply provided with a “window” into your office-based system, via a secure encrypted connection. You can normally access this from any internet-connected device including a home PC, tablet or smartphone. As all of the processing takes place on the server in your office, the specification of the end-user device is not important, and even if it is an old or low powered device, the system will run at much the same speed as though you were in the office.
The other benefit of such systems is that there is not the danger of uncontrolled copies of confidential data being stored on the home PC/tablet/smartphone, since all data remains on the server at all times, and the remote device is purely providing a window into that data to view and update files, without them ever being transferred to the user’s laptop/PC/smartphone.
These types of systems are also very useful in the scenario where the firm has multiple offices, as rather than having a separate server and IT system at each office, which is a costly solution which also makes sharing information very cumbersome, there can simply be a single server infrastructure at one office, which the other offices access remotely.
I hope this article has provided a useful insight into options for secure remote working, which are not limited to purely cloud-based solutions. If you have any questions, or you would like information on Epoq IT’s range of secure and compliant remote working solutions for law firms, then please do not hesitate to contact me on 01494 444065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org when I will be happy to arrange a no obligation conference call.
This blog forms part of our series of informational resources for senior partners, practice managers and compliance officers at law firms. To read more articles, please visit my blog, IT in Law Firms.
Epoq IT work with small and medium size law firms, providing consultancy, methodologies and technologies that bring clarity and give control over IT back to the business – putting the business in the driving seat of IT spend, compliance and security. For more information please visit our website http://epoq-it.co.uk/law-firms-solicitors-and-legal-services-businesses/