Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, regulators in both the U.S. and U.K. have begun to keep an increasingly watchful eye over communications compliance issues, many of which are a result of the world’s newfound dependence on hybrid work. Communications tools and platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Webex by Cisco, with many more being developed, were quickly adopted to ensure that businesses could keep up with heightened connectivity demands and have proved to become an integral part of many a law firms’ current day-to-day work structures. Despite this major step forward, many law firms still have a considerable amount of work to do to be able to detect active compliance or security risks as well as data losses that come with hybrid work.
Improved firm culture and employment engagement aside, the legal industry’s issue with hybrid work currently resides in the area of document collection and the inability to produce an accurate record of firm communications. In order to remain compliant, legal teams must be able to extract any relevant firm records or information from whichever respective communications platform their firm utilizes. Information can include anything from recorded audio to video, chat logs and contextual data such as GIFs or emojis.
For law firms struggling to cope with the hybrid workflow, this particular task will prove to be a challenge, as client expectations for timely responses only continue to increase. Storing updated firm records is critical to ensure regulatory compliance in the event of a legal investigation, HR violation, internal firm audit or to tend to data deletion requests issued by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Additional challenges may arise when it comes to in-meeting conversations that are not recorded.
Compliance regulations in regard to in-meeting modes of communications such as SharePoint comments and in-chat polls are also now in effect. According to recent reports from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), communications up for regulatory review include “video conferencing, fax, email, SMS, business-to-business devices, instant messaging and mobile device applications.” Additionally, ESMA noted that a recurring list of communications will not be produced and released due to “the continuing innovation and advancement in technology which would mean the list frequently becomes out-of-date.”
With today’s technology, anyone can easily record, store and share digital data with the click of a button, leaving law firms in both the U.S. and U.K. continually vulnerable to potential data risks. Staying ahead of the current compliance regulations could mean the difference between harmony and havoc for law firms still coping with the industry shift to hybrid work.