Law firms have an ethical and legal responsibility to secure confidential information. Unfortunately, not every firm is in full compliance with their ethical and regulatory mandates. This is especially true when it comes to data security.
According to one security report from 2016, 40% of the law firms surveyed had experienced a data breach but didn’t realize it. In 2017, the American Bar Association found that half of the 90,000 private practice attorneys they polled had no data breach response plan in place, much less a preemptive security strategy.
Data security should be part of every lawyer’s standard of care. With cyber security threats on the rise, every law firm must undergo a thorough regulatory compliance audit, as well as a security evaluation.
Understanding Regulatory Compliance Audits
A compliance audit is a way to ensure an organization is following the rules that apply to it. Specifically, a regulatory compliance audit is meant to ensure a company is following applicable regulations set forth by the authority that regulates the organization’s industry.
In some instances, a compliance audit may be performed to ensure compliance with internal policies, as well.
Law firms must comply with a specific set of rules regulations. These rules and regulations come from many sources. They include:
- Ethics rules set forth by the American Bar Association
- Government statutes and regulations
- Data security regulations
- Court rules
- Legal contracts
During a regulatory compliance audit, an independent team reviews a law firm’s compliance with these regulations.
While it’s a good idea for your law firm to audit itself, compliance audits are best handled by an impartial third party. Best practices policies alone are not enough to ensure compliance. Compliance policies must be supported by an ethical infrastructure developed through objective assessment.
Regulatory Compliance and Data Security
Although the United States does not have as robust a set of data protection rules as other countries, law firms must still abide by certain rules regarding their clients’ data. The FTC requires any private company to follow these guidelines:
- Have a sound data security plan in place
- Collect only the data your organization needs to operate
- Keep collected data secure
- Dispose of data securely when it is no longer necessary
Without a data security plan, law firms risk going through expensive litigation and paying fines if they experience a data breach.
There are many touchpoints that could lead to a data breach. For example, improper data capture solutions, loose documents, and remote network access points can all lead to increased risk.
It’s advisable for most law firms to look beyond U.S. regulations to secure their data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set forth by the European Union is now a standard data privacy model for many organizations, even organizations in the U.S.
Compliance with GDPR ensures your law firm meets the strictest data security standards. If you accept data inputs from individuals within the EU, you are required to comply with this regulation.
Conduct A Regulatory Compliance Audit of Your Law Firm
If you need a GDPR regulatory compliance audit, a back office provider or business process outsourcing (BPO) partner can help.
DDC USA helps organizations capitalize on opportunities for technology integration and operational efficiency. Our risk assessment solution, RiskView, helps you reveal at-risk resources in your data estate, so you can prevent breaches and comply with regulations.
Request your RiskView demo today.