Reconciling Mobility and Security Risks for Lawyers

Kevin DeLong

Jan 15 2016

Mobile devices are now ubiquitous in America, but perhaps no profession relies on them more than the legal industry. Consider these statistics from a recent ALM reader survey, which found that 79% of these lawyers work at firms where they are allowed to use their own mobile devices on work matters. It’s pretty clear that the use of mobile devices for legal work is commonplace at law firms of all sizes and in every region.

Meanwhile, the survey found that only about a quarter (27%) of law firms have or are formulating policies to govern security of cell phones and tablets. Thirty-eight percent report it’s a growing concern that they are watching but have not made any changes in policies as yet, and just under a third (32%) say it is not even a concern right now.

Unfortunately, there is a wide range of serious risks to the use of mobile devices in any workplace. For lawyers, there are three major potential risks in particular:

  1. Leak of confidential data – Mobile devices by their physical nature are remarkably easy to lose or have stolen. Once a device is in the hands of a stranger, the phone is easily accessed and confidential data easily obtained. Moreover, there is an ongoing risk to hacking, as recent scandals involving celebrities has illustrated.
  2. Storage of information – Since today’s smartphones thrive on the use of mobile apps that retrieve and store information from third-party services, there is a constant stream of data moving from a lawyer’s mobile device to storage on the cloud. This brings into question a number of security risks.
  3. Management of client communications – In the event of litigation, lawyers may have the unique challenge of harvesting electronic records from mobile devices and separating privileged from non-privileged communications. If privileged communications are not properly identified and protected, the client could be placed at undue litigation risk.

To help legal professionals better understand some of these unique risks and devise strategies for managing them, AccessData will host a special educational program at LegalTech® New York 2016. The session, “Mitigating Risk in a Mobile Era,” will take place on February 2, 2016, and will be moderated by Ari Kaplan, a leading legal industry analyst and litigation technology expert. The panelists will include: James Sherer, co-chair of the Information Governance practice at BakerHostetler; Tracy Drynan, senior attorney in the Litigation Group at DrinkerBiddle; Gregory Witczak, global eDiscovery at Deutsche Bank; and myself.

The session promises to be a dynamic, insightful conversation into real-world issues and trends affecting mobile e-discovery today, with each panelist highlighting some of their own personal experiences to help attendees gain perspective on this growing concern, and walk away with best practices for navigating the risks associate with mobile. Attendees are eligible for CLE credit.

For more information regarding the session, please email Jessica Carter, senior director of e-Discovery product marketing for AccessData, at

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