Why is Data Storage Such an Obstacle in the Legal Industry?
Data Generation in the Legal Industry
Working with and protecting highly sensitive client data is a critical part of the legal industry, Law360 explained. Within law firms, data multiplies exponentially and sensitive data requires ongoing retention. Examples of sensitive data handled and stored in the legal industry include:
- Client files
- Insurance data
- Personnel files
- Contact information for courts
In addition to data volume and storage requirements, the risk of data loss also looms. Technology failures, human error, and natural disasters are ongoing threats. According to the American Bar Association, 25% of law firms have dealt with data breaches due to hacks, break-ins, lost or stolen devices, and website attacks. Data creates significant pressure for the legal industry, particularly where storage is concerned.
Top 4 Data Storage Concerns for Law Firms
The amount of data that has to be stored is a significant challenge to contend with for every legal company. Law firms aren’t like companies who can destroy records after four or eight years. Depending on state laws, practice type, and how long a case is active, they could be required to keep certain data for extensive periods of time. Whether it’s phone call records, emails, files or legal documents, they’ll have to be saved and available if and when they need to be retrieved. Additionally, storage arrays are massively expensive, which presents another volume-related challenge. Whether a firm is opting for EMC, NetApp, HP, or Dell devices, storage equipment is the most expensive hardware that runs in the data center.
As mentioned above, depending on the kind of law being practiced and state regulations, some law firms are required to keep data for extensive periods of time, if not indefinitely. As reported by LawLogix, the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) requires that records need to be retained by lawyers for a period of five years after termination of representation. However, this rule has been revised by many states, and it’s not necessarily a hard and fast rule depending on the type of law being practiced.
The need for fast retrieval
Law firms also need to be able to readily retrieve data. At any given time, they may be asked to pull a file for a case or a client. It’s typically not the best case scenario to keep data in a location where there will be a delay if a request comes in for stored information.
It’s not uncommon for a storage device to fail, and lost data is a huge concern for legal organizations. Data loss fears span internal storage as well as co-located storage, and while disaster recovery (DR) and backups are an excellent protection measure, a great deal of consideration has to be made to put the right plan in place. If a firm needs to move large amounts of data back and forth between locations, for example, it’s more difficult to execute and costs will be higher. Real-time replication between main physical devices may be costly as well, and with it, bandwidth and distance limitations have to be taken into consideration.
Getting Support for Storage Challenges
Managing the obstacles of long-term retention, easy retrieval, volume of data and reliable disaster recovery can be headaches for law firms, especially those without considerable internal IT resources. But data loss isn’t worth the risk. If your law firm is grappling with managing data storage challenges, consider adding further support to help evaluate effective storage options that will deliver security, compliance help and cost effectiveness, regardless of the volume of data.
Peak 10 + ViaWest is here to help your firm with your most pressing data storage needs. If you’re looking for a better data storage solution or advice on how to deal with costs, fast retrieval, or the right DR plan, visit www.peak10.com/contact-us or call (866) 473-2510 to speak with an expert.