find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Client not-so confidential

Client not-so confidential

A survey of Australia’s largest law firms has shown that client information can be accessed easily by most staff.

The law firm risk management company IntApp has released a survey of 80 risk professionals from 30 of Australia’s largest firms.

The survey, which canvassed risk responsibility, confidentiality and compliance, found that two-thirds of respondents indicated that information about clients is openly accessible to all staff within the firm.

“I am surprised by that figure,” said Andrew Fisher (pictured), Clayton Utz’s national manager of technology/infrastructure services when speaking to Lawyers Weekly about the survey. “We have very stringent rules about who can and can’t access client information.”

Fisher said that Clayton Utz didn’t participate in the survey.

All published survey responses were confidential, with one participant citing “strict protocols, separation barriers, locking-down information, physical separation of teams, printing restrictions” as steps taken by his/her firm to ensure client confidentiality is maintained.

Despite such measures being mentioned by survey participants to protect client confidentiality, the survey found that most respondents did not know how much their firm invests in risk management. One respondent said their firm spends less than one percent (0.5%) of turnover on risk management.

Clayton Utz has three dedicated risk management staff. Fisher declined to say how much his firm spends on risk management, but indicated that large law firms such as Clayton Utz would only be increasing risk management spend and staff in the future.

“We are increasingly being asked by our clients to be ISO 27001 certified and that hasn’t been something we have been asked for in the past,” said Fisher.

He said his firm is working towards being compliant with ISO 27001standards, which brings information security under the direct auspices of management control.

Currently, Clayton Utz, like many firms, leaves control of access to client documents under the supervision of the relevant client relationship partner or partner-in-charge of a matter.

“The partner can say, ‘well I only want  junior lawyers to have access to certain information,  but I want some senior associates to have access to half the documents, etc’.

“We have in place extensive granular protection procedures right down to the user level.”

Avoiding conflict
Survey respondents cited commercial conflicts of interest and regulatory requirements as two key areas of concern that require the implementation of information barriers.

Despite the high proportion of respondents indicating that client information is easily available, most firms indicated that improved processes and additional training have been implemented in a bid to better preserve client confidentiality.

“We’ve added additional training and are looking at ways of improving how files are managed by fee earners to make sure files are secured electronically,” said one respondent.

At Clayton Utz, the identification of potential conflicts is run through a dedicated set of computer-checking mechanisms.

“We will also send an email around to find out if any partners are working on restricted matters that we should know about and use a number of provisions to avoid conflicts,” said Fisher.

The IntApp survey also found that respondents expect external audits to increase in parallel with the increased level of client expectations, with half of the respondents indicating that their firm has been subject to an external information security audit.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Client not-so confidential
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
protest
06:05
High Court overturns ‘excessive’ anti-protest legislation
Bob Brown’s recent victory in the High Court over the Tasmanian government was a win for fundament...
Blocked
06:04
Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked
Attempts to beef up the requirements to obtain Australian citizenship were thwarted this week, after...
Warning
06:03
Lawyers warn against mandatory sentencing measures amid political jeers
Mandatory sentencing has become a topic for politicians on both sides of Federal Parliament to jostl...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...