Speaking with Lawyers Weekly, Susan Bennett, co-founder and director of Information Governance ANZ (IGANZ) said it’s now more important than ever that law firms embrace information governance.
“What information governance does is it ensures that information is managed to achieve the strategic objectives of the organisation by providing an information governance framework, systems and processes that are designed to maximise the value of data held within an organisation as well as minimising the risks of holding that information,” Ms Bennett explained.
“The risks of holding information are that you've got too much information and that your sensitive information ... is not held in a secure way. Then if you're subject to a cyber attack and there are data and privacy breaches you will have enormous costs and problems in sorting all of that out and dealing with it.”
IGANZ, which officially launched last night at an event hosted by EY, is a think tank on information governance and aims to bring together all the different professionals dealing with information across organisations.
“A holistic approach to cyber security, privacy, records and information management is critical,” Ms Bennett said.
“So the idea or the goal of IGANZ is to be a think tank that brings together different professionals from across the different disciplines to broaden the conversation, to break down the silos and work together.”
She continued: “Collaboration across the silos of cyber security, IT, privacy, records management and information management will help you secure your information and enable you to maximise the value of information that you hold within your organisation, as well as minimise the risks.”
Ms Bennett said the need for lawyers to collaborate with other professionals is growing.
“This is an illustration of the way in which lawyers and other advisers will work differently to how they've been working in the past, because lawyers have typically been siloed and IT has been siloed,” she said.
“In the new digital age we need to work more closely together and rely on the skills and expertise of each other to actually achieve the objectives, not only in relation to security of information and information governance objectives, but overall organisational objectives.”
US leading the way
Ms Bennett said that Australia is lagging behind the US in this area.
“In the US a major driver for information governance was the cost of e-discovery and document production for litigation and regulatory investigations,” she said.
“In the US there are significant sanctions and fines for not being able to produce documents.”
This was ultimately the main driver behind Ms Bennett establishing IGANZ with co-founder Marie Felsbourg.
“I have been aware of the information governance developments in the US and the prominence that it has in the US and I formed a view that we needed something similar in Australia to drive the thought leadership and the knowledge around information governance and information governance best practice,” she said.