A big amount of remote work entered the legal sector as a response to Covid-19, and it’s now part of a new normal that’s redefining the professional landscape. According to the 2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market by Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law, the amount of lawyers and staff wanting to work remotely at least one day a week has doubled in the past year.
Many CEOs are happy to know that as a hybrid workforce they are credited with driving new efficiencies related to staffing patterns, office and administrative space, costs, business travel, and other areas.
At the same time, a hybrid workforce introduces new risks and potential pitfalls that owners will need to address. That’s why 81% of senior risk managers believe that remote work will remain a permanent feature of their firm’s operations. Indeed, a hybrid workforce makes compliance requirements, cybersecurity threats, and productivity metrics a real concern for law firms.
Many companies have changed to employee monitoring software to oversee this transition. However, in the legal industry, adoption has been less universal as firms rely on interpersonal relationships, and other indicators to accommodate critical remote work priorities.
Is important to know that whenever you are transitioning to a hybrid work model (remote/on site), insights are critical. For CEOs, Owners, and cybersecurity employees looking to support a transition to remote work, here’s how employee monitoring can help law firms demonstrate compliance, protect sensitive information, and measure productivity.
Compliance for law firms
Client confidentiality and personal data protection are one of the most important things your company should take in consideration. Their efficacy is predicated on privacy and discretion and various state and federal data privacy regulations make it a top priority for law firms.
Employee monitoring initiatives support regulatory compliance efforts in several ways, including:
– privileged user monitoring. Receive real-time notifications when users try to get access to your systems, databases, or content.
– session mining. Capture and assess accessed information
– policy enforcement. Establish rules and policies that protect client and other sensitive data.
– endpoint data loss prevention.
In a digital environment, law firms need to reassess their compliance measures, ensuring that they avoid the financial implications, reputational damage, and operational disruption.
Protect Sensitive Information
Law firms collect and store a large amount of personal information, and they are notoriously soft targets for cyber criminals and accidental insiders. Incredibly, nearly a third of law firms experienced a data breach in the past year, according to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Tech Report 2020.
A survey of IT leaders in the legal sector found that 96% of respondents saw insider threats as a significant cybersecurity concern. Most critically, CEOs are concerned about employees using personal technology to access company data, intentionally or accidentally sharing insights with a competitor, and leaking information to hackers. Interestingly, employees share these sentiments. More than three-quarters of law firm staff believe employees have accidentally and maliciously put data at risk.
Unfortunately, the ABA’s report also found that “despite the ethical issues and pending challenges…the use of certain security tools remains at less than half of respondents.”
Account for Productivity
Productivity analysis will help leaders evaluate the continued merits of a hybrid workforce. For instance, immediately after transition to remote work, 20% of lawyers reported challenges meeting billable hour goals, citing distraction and diminished opportunities as reasons for the decreased output. While short-term productivity blips are not necessarily a cause of concern, especially at the onset of a novel health crisis, continued irregularities can reflect systemic issues.
Of course, legal practioners, well-acquainted with long hours and heavy workloads, are perhaps more vulnerable to overwork than they are to slacking off. However, in the transition to remote work, many workers added three hours to their workdays, veritably obliterating any remaining semblance of work-life balance.
Fostering healthy, sustainable teams will require law firms to assess productivity metrics, continually evaluating output for signs of diminished results or overwork.