find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Firms warned of information overload

Firms warned of information overload

Benjamin Balk

The abundance of information available to lawyers today has increased the risk of overlooking crucial information or a conflicting relationship, a technology GM has warned.

Benjamin Balk, the general manager of product and marketing at SAI Global, suggested the legal market was becoming increasingly complex, meaning manual information-gathering processes could overlook crucial data.

"The internet age has also seen a dramatic increase in the amount of information available. Now, there's almost too much information," he said.

As an example, he cited potential conflicts of interests arising due to multinational relationships or complex company structures.

"If you haven't got all of the information around that company that you're looking to act for, and haven't understood all the interrelated parties, you might find that you've got a conflict that you don't know about. This is becoming more of an issue with some of the acquisitions by global players," he said.

As another example, he pointed to lawyers working on securitisations for major institutions, who may have 200-plus pages of ASIC and PPSR reports to comb through for risk factors.

"If you failed to collect all the securities information, you might miss something vital in the risk of that organisation when you're doing the recommendation for your client," he said.

By contrast, electronic tools such as SAI Global's Dynamic Company and Securities Report could streamline search processes and highlight key relationships.

"Even if you looked at the way people worked 40 years ago, there would have been staff searching physical microfiche records at government registries and offices to get access to information to support their process, which then had to be manually compiled and handed up to someone," Mr Balk said.

"Now it's all available online – you can get access to all the registry information in a single source. That significantly changes the speed of how people access information and work with it," he said.

Nonetheless, he suggested lawyers were unlikely to ever be displaced by automated processes.

"Technology can not remove the art of the law," he said. "The subject matter expertise that exists with practitioners is vitally important – but how can you speed up some of the information aggregation processes and sourcing of information so that they have more efficiency in what they do?" 

In addition, he cautioned firms on the risks involved in storing or accessing information electronically.

"Thirty years ago, people had their client files held in a fire-proof safe on a physical premises," he said. "That meant you at least had to break into the building and crack the safe to get access to that information.

"Now, with everything being stored electronically, there are elements of client information and confidential client information that is out there in cyberspace."

He pointed to recent hacking scandals at Ashley Madison and Sony as an indication that even large organisations were not immune from security breaches.

Insufficient security around information storage can also open a firm to risk, he warned, particularly if information is being sent off-shore and thus subject to different jurisdictions.

Like this story? Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive Lawyers Weekly every day straight to your inbox.

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

Firms warned of information overload
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
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 & ...