By Lorna Campbell.
Searching, accessing, and managing legacy data is often a problem for law firms and legal service organisations such as alternative legal service providers (ALSPs).
A law firm or legal services organisation will most likely have some legacy data they have to contend with regarding investigations, litigation, FOIA, GDPR, or other compliance requests, or they simply need to be able to preserve and maintain access to important historic documents or data.
As well as documents, this data could be emails, and attachments, along with all associated metadata. More often than not, this data is usually stored in outdated IT systems, often at risk of experiencing poor performance and irreparable breakdowns. Any of which can threaten loss of intellectual property, reputational damage, and result in diminished client trust.
As these legacy IT systems age, not only are they are unable to accommodate today's security best practices, such as multi-factor authentication, single-sign on and role-based access, but the security risks also increase as they may lack sufficient audit trails or encryption methods.
Often at the heart of cyber breach incidents, and because decommissioning is not usually an option, these legacy IT systems pose a significant risk to a law firm or legal organisation.
Legacy Data & Legal Organisations
Whether it’s for e-discovery purposes, an investigation, or a Subject Access Request (SAR), legal firms need to be able to search across and access legacy data.
So why do law firms keep old, unsupported legacy systems to do this?
Many law firms and legal organisations want to retain knowledge of using older, usually on-premise systems; they’re happy to pay licenses for a legacy system and support old infrastructure and obsoleted software.
More often than not, law firms keep these expensive, difficult to use applications, purely because they need the data.
Problems such as-
the software is restricted to a specific browser or device
navigating endless menus to find anything
the User Interface (UI) is outdated and difficult to work with
are all very common with legacy IT systems.
‘Sticking With What You Know’
Many firms are hesitant to move their legacy systems as it can often be a lengthy and disruptive process. Particularly for larger law firms or legal organisations who have legacy systems used by thousands of employees. Moving huge amounts of data to a new application, as well as user training, can be extremely demanding and high-risk.
This ‘strategy’ however in the long term is not feasible to sustain.
The risk and expense of managing legacy IT systems is costly. Moving to a solution that will reduce this and allow firms to ensure compliance globally with ‘Cyber Essentials’, while significantly reducing their Operating Expenses (OPEX) costs, is surely an obvious choice.
So Why Does Effectively Managing your Legacy Data Matter?
With the latest studies reporting the average cost of a single data breach is now £2.8 million, and with businesses facing a one-in-four chance of a cyber-attack, the outcome could cripple a law firm permanently.
1. Reduces Security Vulnerabilities
Many outdated systems are no longer supported by the manufacturer. As a result, a single unpatched vulnerability can enable attackers to access all applications, middleware, and databases running on the server platform. In addition, without modern backup and disaster recovery solutions and other security solutions and services, the firm or legal organisation will never be able to properly safeguard its data today and tomorrow.
2. Addresses A Dwindling Talent Pool
As legacy technology moves further past the point of manufacturer support, fewer and fewer IT professionals with the knowledge of those systems are available to support them. As these application experts retire or leave the business, the costs of the smaller pool of experts in that technology increases.
3. Increases Operational Costs & System Downtime
Because legacy applications cost more to run and maintain, they make a law firm highly inefficient in terms of OPEX. Moreover, these systems require constant attention from the IT department, eating away at employee resources. That constant attention pulls IT personnel away from projects that increase business opportunities and operational efficiency.
4. Exposes True Costs
In the era of cloud services, virtualisation, and software-defined everything, legacy technologies can no longer enable the business to remain competitive as customers and clients demand faster responses, products, and solutions. The ever-growing costs of data in the age of Internet of Things (IoT) and big data bring unsustainable OPEX in on-premises data centres.
Consequently, the adoption of cloud via Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), enables businesses to move from Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) to much lower OPEX models.
5. Reduces Compliance Issues
For the legal sector, operating under stringent regulatory compliance requirements, the cost of outdated technology can compound those serious repercussions. Compliance standards, such as Cyber Essentials, require that your technology be supported.
Not only are audits difficult and costly to conduct in environments with legacy technology, but a breach sets the business up for expensive fees and penalties.
6. Overcomes Limitations to Flexible Working
On-premise legacy systems are very limited regarding flexibility, security, and scalability, so for lawyers to be able to securely access data anytime and anywhere is crucial, especially given the current global cloud-based working environment.
In conclusion, effectively managing your legacy data can bring benefits such as-
Significantly reduced IT infrastructure costs.
Management of time savings with more focus on client value projects.
Increased efficiency and productivity.
Reduced risk of non-compliance and cyber breach incidents.
Improved flexible working.
Having a secure, highly searchable, cloud-based application that instantly improves the searchability and ‘preserves’ your firm’s data is surely a ‘no brainer.’
Not only will effectively managing your legacy data help to ensure your competitive advantage - as you’re seen by your clients as a ‘technology-focused firm/ALSP’ - but it will also support you in continuing to deliver a high-quality service to them.
Ultimately, any technology should add value and work alongside the requirements of a business and having an effective solution to preserve and maintain legacy documents, without having to purchase all the licenses and hardware required to retain any historic IT infrastructure over the coming years is of significant benefit to any business.
There are many solutions for legacy data archiving and management. It’s up to your legal organisation to choose the right one to help ‘future proof’ your digital information, reduce your IT infrastructure costs and support regulatory compliance requirements.
About the Author
Lorna Campbell is Head of Marketing at Nalanda Technology. Nalanda create and develop the Nalytics search and discovery platform. Used by large and small law firms, Nalytics helps them effectively manage Subject Access Requests (SARs), Contract Analysis, M&A (due diligence), Disclosure/Litigation, Data Preservation or Research.
A B2B marketing professional, Lorna has over 20 years’ experience in the Marketing industry. With the last ten years spent in the technology sector, including legal tech, she has worked in global organisations, as well as SME's and start-ups, creating and implementing Marketing Strategies and Growth Plans, with a focus on Digital Marketing and Content Marketing.