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04 Nov 2021

The Pitfalls of Managing Legacy Data in Law Firms & How to Overcome Them

The Pitfalls of Managing Legacy Data in Law Firms & How to Overcome Them

A law firm 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.

Searching, accessing, and managing this legacy data is often a problem.

This data may be stored in outdated IT systems, often at risk of experiencing poor performance and irreparable breakdowns.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.

Why Keep Old, Unsupported Legacy Systems?

 

Whether it’s for e-discovery purposes, an investigation, or a Subject Access Request (SAR), law firms need to be able to search across and access legacy data.

Many firms want to retain knowledge of using older, usually on-premise systems, so they’re happy to pay licenses for a legacy system and support old infrastructure and obsoleted software.

Many firms keep these expensive, difficult to use applications, purely because they need the data.

Risks of Using Legacy Systems

 

Numerous challenges can occur when using these legacy IT systems including, the software being restricted to a specific browser or device, an outdated User Interface (UI) and the system just being generally difficult to work with.

Many firms are hesitant to move their legacy systems as it can often be a lengthy and disruptive process.

Particularly for larger law firms 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 is not feasible to sustain in the long term.

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’, and significantly reducing their Operating Expenses (OPEX) costs at the same time, surely outweighs the risks of continuing with the status quo.

Why You Can’t Ignore It…

 

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. Using legacy systems, you may face issues such as-

  • Reduced 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 will never be able to properly safeguard its data today and tomorrow.

  • 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 increase.

  • Operational Costs & System Downtime Increased

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.

  • Increased 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 IoT and big data bring unsustainable OPEX in on-premise 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.

  • Reduced 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.

  • 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.

Why ‘Future-proofing’ Your Digital Information Matters

 

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.

 

Overcoming The Pitfalls of Legacy Data Management

 

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’ - but it will also support you in continuing to deliver a high-quality service to them.

Technology should add value and work alongside the requirements of your firm.

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 law firm to choose the right one to help ‘future-proof’ your digital information, reduce your IT infrastructure costs, and support regulatory compliance requirements.

This article was written by Nalanda Technology, who develop the Nalytics platform. For more information about Nalytics and how their solution could help your law firm effectively manage legacy data, visit their stand (No. 413) at LegalEx 2021, see their website, or book a demo.

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