10.5 Technology Issues
Your practice is likely to contain a combination of digital and hard copy material. Aside from records, your practice will also have equipment such as computers, storage media and other tools that can be harmed by catastrophic events.
Hazards such as fire, flooding, theft or careless disposal of material can be equally devastating to on-site computers as they can to on-site paper files. Computer data is also susceptible to viruses, hackers, spyware and other malicious agencies from the Internet.
- Does your practice require connecting computers to a centralized server? Client/server storage and retrieval of electronic files, use of centralized applications, etc.
- What type of hardware and software is required? (e.g. accounting and case management software)
- What type of training is necessary for you and your staff to effectively use the software?
- What data file protection for backup and disaster recovery is in place?
- Whether you have access to reliable technical support?
- What is your network security? It is essential to consider both the physical security of the computers and equipment in your office, as well as the security from the risks inherent in connecting to the Internet.
It is very important to ensure that your support staff understand and follow your policy for risk management of information and the use of technology. Whenever a staff member leaves your firm, you must update passwords on your systems to protect your confidential information and intellectual property.
Take the time to consider how you will be able to continue providing legal services if something happens to you or your primary place of business. If, for example, your office equipment is stolen:
- Are you equipped to work from your home?
- If you have support staff, are they capable of working from home for a period of time?
Similarly, what will you do if your computer system is rendered inoperative for a period of time?
You also must consider how you will deal with client confidentiality if you, or your staff, are working from home and how you will protect personal information contained in your files to ensure that they are not wrongfully accessed (e.g. encryption, password protection).
You must develop practical solutions to minimize loss of equipment or data, (e.g., installing sprinkler systems where appropriate, using fireproof cabinets, burglar alarms, firewalls and antivirus software, etc.) and develop methods to recover from that loss, like storing copies of critical information and backing up digital information off-site. Keep in mind that some safeguards may pose their own risks. For example, a sprinkler system might stop a fire but damage paper files or computers.