Securing the ‘Next Normal’ for Legal Services
Whether returning to physical premises, remaining entirely remote or moving to a hybrid model, law firms must grapple with a new way of working.
Steve Sumner, Director of IT at Taylor Vinters, discusses how law firms can go about adapting to a new mode of business post-COVID.
IT departments have often been uprooted by the emergence of new and disruptive innovations to assist office life. Now, the disruptive force that is COVID-19 has forced IT to cater its solution to issues that lay outside that arena. Embracing that distinct change has been vital to productivity over the last year, and in many cases survival.
Business resilience quickly became a desirable attribute for IT investments and solutions to have, but this was by no means a focus prior to pandemic. According to McKinsey research, less than 10% of companies pre-COVID were resilient and prepared to survive the pandemic. Those who possessed a degree of resilience and had structures in place to facilitate remote working, even if it was only on a minor scale, enjoyed a head start in the race to onboard new technologies when lockdown became enforced.
Taylor Vinters had begun the process of embracing a flexible approach to work and had some of the skeleton structures in place prior to the pandemic. For organisations like Taylor Vinters, these measures were necessary. With over 180 staff who work across a range of different time zones, 99% of whom operate on corporate-owned devices, Taylor Vinters employees’ devices were already beginning to be onboarded, and our infrastructure was starting to transition away from on-premise to the cloud.
By March, that journey was a quarter of the way complete, but the onslaught of COVID-19 and the need to keep our staff safe and productive accelerated those needs.
According to McKinsey research, less than 10% of companies pre-COVID were resilient and prepared to survive the pandemic.
Move to remote working
Of course, all our employees are working remotely now. Despite the disruption to routine commutes, meetings, and coffee catchups, our employees are appreciating working from home. The experience of increased productivity and work life balance has meant Taylor Vinters employees now favour a hybrid model of work.
And they aren’t alone. More than 80% of the global workforce does not want to return to the office full-time, ever. What may have seemed preposterous even two years ago, where employees are given a choice of where they can work, is now readily accepted. The validity of the amount of square feet that law offices currently take up, and the cost of their leases have been called into question.
Necessity for security
With the ‘next normal’ moving toward a more permanent transition to remote working, it is critical to have a secure, agile and cloud based working environment in place. Every organisation needs to consider if they have the solutions in place to enable and empower at home workers. To do this effectively they must have the ability to tether internet from mobile phones to laptops for uninterrupted internet service and secure access to both applications and business-critical data across all devices including mobile and laptops.
To ensure these steps for secure remote workers at Taylor Vinters, we worked with Appurity, a long term partner of ours to implement a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution alongside a smart document management system. This solution worked with our iManage Cloud platform to merge seamlessly. We needed functionality and cloud configurability and Appurity and the UEM solution delivered.
Compliance and policy are key
Law firms, like other companies, have increased the amount of applications that sit on employee devices to ensure they have the tools they need to work wherever they are. The addition of video conferencing, browsing, SaaS delivery, and even wellness apps has seen significant demand. The renewed focus on health that the pandemic has bestowed upon us means that individuals now want more information about how long they have been looking at screen or how far they have cycled. Built-in AI screening capabilities of the UEM solution by MobileIron (acquired by Ivanti) ensures all applications downloaded to a device meet our compliance policies.
Taking advantage of a security service provider’s expert skillset can help IT teams optimise their info security, so all applications across all devices are locked down and secure. With the assistance of Appurity, Taylor Vinters was able to onboard its fleet of Android Enterprise devices completely remotely over the course of a few weeks.
Onboarding, user provisioning, configuration, application deployment and control enablement of all endpoints was automated by using zero touch enrolment UEM. Additionally, multi-factor authentication for application access on laptops was deployed by syncing a laptop with a mobile device, and harnessing the biometric capabilities of that device to guarantee a higher standard of identity access management.
Access management has always been important, but with over 36 billion records being exposed in 2020, it is clear that relying on passwords is no longer an option if firms’ priorities are to maintain resilience.
The ‘Next Normal’
Despite the ramped-up rates of vaccination, the future remains uncertain. Organisations need to equip their employers to work productively and efficiently from anywhere, for some time yet. Mobile devices like phones laptops and tablets are vital to this approach and as a result have become the focal point of 87% of CISOs, according to research from Ivanti. Outside the security of the corporate office and up against a plethora of threats, mobility is key in security and for productivity for whatever the next normal brings.