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From Black and White to Technicolor: The Positive Outlook for Law Firm Information Governance

by Adrienne Girone

Imagine starting your workday with all of your client matter information at your fingertips. Rather than a frustrating scramble to search multiple disjointed sources for what you need, picture the ability to pull up all the relevant material regarding your matters with a few simple clicks. Consider the value in being able to rely on a complete, up-to-date electronic file to provide your clients with the most efficient, responsive, and best-informed legal assistance.

Sounds like a pipe dream? It doesn’t have to be. InOutsource can help your firm cross the threshold from black and white to Technicolor in the pursuit of high-quality information governance (IG).

Plenty of resources discuss law firm IG from a top-down perspective, focusing on the negative risk management and data security repercussions that arise when firms fail to strengthen their IG protocol. The scary consequences of falling short on IG deserve serious consideration, and it’s easy to see why these concerns keep law firm leadership awake at night.

Avoiding these pitfalls is essential, but it’s also helpful to embrace the rewards of IG.

It is just as critical to emphasize the positive gains for attorneys’ day-to-day practices that can be achieved by dedicating attention and resources to IG as it is to focus on preventing potential losses. Promoting the direct benefits that lawyers will enjoy upon adopting a modern IG framework is crucial for obtaining grassroots buy-in from your firm’s attorneys on proposed IG initiatives.

IG isn’t just a nightmare to be feared; it’s an opportunity to energize your firm’s attorneys to practice at their highest ability.

Smarter Decision-Making

In today’s competitive legal market, attorneys and law firms are constantly striving to maximize their value to clients. One of the building blocks of IG can help advance this objective: an Official Electronic File Policy. This type of policy entails utilizing a centralized secure digital database for each client matter file, rather than storing materials unsystematically across multiple formats, which leaves data vulnerable to both duplication and gaps.

Studies show that having simultaneous access to all pieces of information on a subject enables individuals to reach objectively superior conclusions. Indeed, “people tend to make better judgments when they have all the options at their disposal at once,” particularly when they are “able to bounce back and forth between so many sources of information with just a click.” Having a strong IG foundation that includes an Official Electronic File Policy, supported by the appropriate workflows and technology solutions, empowers your attorneys to provide the best possible legal advice to clients.

Instead of making do with ungoverned information, attorneys can maximize their critical thinking and legal reasoning fully by working with complete, up-to-date, and easily accessible data about their matters.

Knowledge Management

Now, consider the enhanced decision-making discussed above and multiply it across the entire matter team. No matter how many separate attorneys and support staff are contributing to a matter, each member of the team deserves equal access to the highest quality information about the case.

Methodically maintaining an Official Electronic File for accuracy and completeness ensures that all billing attorneys, paralegals, and support staff on a matter have reliable, streamlined access to all of the information they may need. This is especially useful for matter teams that span multiple offices: from New York to New Mexico, every member of the matter team should be on the same page.

Efficiency

All lawyers strive to maximize their billable hours. Not all attorneys are necessarily aware of how IG can help them do so.

By adhering to an Official Electronic File Policy, attorneys will reap not only the rewards of better decision-making and improved collaboration. They will also reduce time spent on certain administrative, non-billable tasks. By decreasing time spent managing data across multiple repositories, which often results in costly duplication, attorneys can reclaim hours currently lost to administrative work. This transition can reorient lawyers towards meeting and exceeding their clients’ needs for a larger percentage of the workday.

Better Living through IG

Intrigued by the positive possibilities of embracing IG within your firm, but not sure where to begin? Let InOutsource assist your firm in recalibrating its vision. Developing an Official Electronic File Policy is just one component of the broader IG palette. By conducting an initial IG benchmarking assessment, InOutsource determines the best way to proceed based on your firm’s current procedures and your attorneys’ particular needs. Internal support from attorneys is essential for helping newly crafted or newly enforced policies gain firm-wide traction.

Instead of focusing only on the negative ramifications of falling short on IG standards, accentuating the positives shifts the mindset surrounding IG initiatives from the ground up. Once attorneys catch a glimpse of the full color spectrum that strong IG programs can unlock, they’ll stop settling for the limitations of black and white.