Cybersecurity is a major stressor for today’s law firms. Increasingly complex regulations, such as the ACC Data Security Regulations in the United States and the European Union General Data Protection Regulations (GPDR), are pushing law firms to take a hard look at how they store, manage and protect client data.

According to a recent report from CenturyLink, one in five law firms have experienced an attempted cyberattack in the past month, and only a quarter of firms are prepared for the effects of GDPR. Law firms must assume greater accountability for compliance and security, especially those doing substantial transactional work. Fortunately, advances in knowledge automation are reinventing how law firms can ensure compliance and mitigate risk.

Most companies today audit their firms’ security practices and pay more attention to how they handle and manage their clients’ data. Knowledge automation systems allow firms to take client data security one step further with a process known as pseudonymization.

Pseudonymization is a process where the most identifying fields within a data record, such as a Social Security number, are replaced with artificial identifiers, or pseudonyms. This critical information sits securely on separate servers to prevent attribution. The process separates data from direct identifiers, so even if stolen, data cannot be directly associated with an identity. Automatic encryption can also immediately encrypt client and personal data as they are entered into a contract form or knowledge system, effectively safeguarding the data.

Knowledge automation technology also helps firms better understand, implement and adhere to complex compliance regulations. Because these regulations often are extensive and continually evolving, interpreting and consistently complying can be challenging. Data are often housed in siloed environments. Fortunately, advanced automation technologies make it easy to embed compliance into lawyers’ daily work. As one lawyer makes a nuanced decision based on the data at hand, that expertise is modelled into workflows and processes through knowledge automation. Embedding this knowledge enables subtle judgements to be made en masse, streamlining compliance across the firm. The result is reduced risk, improved compliance and greater operational efficiency.

Law firms handle some of the most sensitive and private client information, and it’s no longer acceptable to reactively address compliance. Firms must put in place effective risk management plans, and knowledge automation can play a significant role in helping firms understand, implement and monitor compliance and mitigate risk.