Last week when I talked about my concern with the concept of “if you can’t manage it, ban it”, this was exactly the sort of clash of priorities I was thinking of.
Hmm, so attorney’s are going to want more mobility, and clients always want more responsiveness from their attorney. Let’s face it, clients are not going to accept “I’ll get back to you when I’m back in the office next week”. They’ll find a new attorney, one who can respond to their email, review a document, and send a letter on their behalf without waiting to be “in the office” to do it.
All that requires mobile technology, and the attorney’s are going to demand the freedom to use whatever mobile technology is easiest and most convenient for them. That includes thumb drives, Blackberry or iPhones, VPN connections, etc. (Eventually this will probably include “cloud” storage too.)
Of course, of the other hand you have two interests on the opposite side of all this mobility and accessibility. One, obviously is data security. How do you keep confidential information, well, confidential?
The other is the possibility of electronic discovery. What happens when you’re party to litigation, and the people of interest have been using a blackberry, maybe a thumb drive or two (or 3-4?), working on some documents on their personal PC? A mess is what happens, that’s what.
So, the question for law firm IT folks is how to you balance these two seemingly competing interests?
To me the answer lies in policy and education. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be easy. There are no shortcuts. You’ve got to figure out what is going to work best in your situation, and then do the hard work to find the correct balance. I’m still not sure what it would be.