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The Emergence of the IG Professional

IG-Professionals

Unlike many buzzwords, however, IG is not old concept dressed up in new clothes—it’s a new way of looking at information management that combines the best of what’s come before with new perspectives and approaches to keeping information secure, accessible and available.

Bryn and Samantha do a great job in the latest issue of Legal Technology News describing the emerging executive role for IG professionals in law firms. Bryn has been working with several law firm clients to proselytize the role of the Chief Information Governance Officer, with some success. I would not be surprised to hear from Bryn about a CIGO being appointed in a law firm in 2015.

Law firms are strange creatures. They are not conventional businesses (some might say they are not businesses at all). They are collections of small businesses, each headed by partner with his or her own ideas about how their fiefdom should run. More law firms are trying to modernize their approach to business management, but the incumbent model is dominant.

This makes it particularly challenging to do “enterprise” things at law firms. It is hard –  harder even than at traditionally managed corporations –  to make anyone do anything. You have the additional challenge that the orthodox impetus for investing in IT –  increased efficiency – is often politely acknowledged but bureaucratically resisted in law firms.

Ironically, law firms are organizations who would benefit most from IG. After all the document is the most common and concrete manifestation of what they do everyday. Documents enter in the form of research, evidence, legal instruments, and they go out in the form of pleadings, memos, briefs, and contracts. Improved management, security, access, workflow –  the bedrock of content management and other disciplines that form the heart of IG – uniquely benefit law firms.

In addition, law firms have much to lose by not paying attention to IG. Law firms are awash in troves of incredibly sensitive and potentially market-shifting data. The bad guys are starting to wake up to this, as are the regulators.

In the wake of this summer’s massive hack attack at several Wall Street institutions, New York State’s top financial regulator convened a meeting with those institutions to talk about the security holes created by their suppliers –  including law firms. In fact, the regulator has requested that the banks provide “any policies and procedures governing relationships with third-party service providers” and has said that banks must describe the process they use to assess the security of those providers.

“It is abundantly clear that, in many respects that a (financial services) firm’s level of cybersecurity is only as good as the cybersecurity of its vendors.”

Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York State financial regulator (as quoted here)

Law firms are called out for special attention, and for good reason. Law firm’s atavistic suspicion of technology must come to an end. When big, powerful clients realize that their gold-plated IG programs have gaping holes skinned only with balsa wood because of poor planning, coordination, and management by their law firm partners, law firms will be in for a shock.

Surely we are all realize that a security breach at Company X does not only affect Company X. The current disaster at Sony which revealed private and sensitive information about hundreds of business partners is a stark reminder of that.

Organizations have little hope of tackling the complex morass of information issues without a central, senior coordinating function.

That is why I believe the only way out of this problem is the Chief Information Governance Officer. That is why the IGI will be focusing heavily on this in 2015 and will be hosting our national Chief Information Governance Officer Summit on May 20-21 2015 in Chicago. Come join us.

 

Tagged: chief information governance officer, CIGO, Information Governance, information technology, law firm