By Lacy Cripe
It's a bird...it's a plane...it's technology! We've all come to appreciate the amazing feats that technology can help us accomplish, such as spell check - which zaps away typos - and software that can search an entire database at the push of a button.
So why not use those microchip muscles to help with risk management too? With both the frequency and the severity of malpractice claims on the rise, implementing a strong risk management program is more important than ever. Ensuring that those processes are efficient is also important, and that's where technology can really lend a hand.
First things first. Every hero needs a sidekick - in this case an online server that will back up all the systems off-site. Losing files could mean losing a case and possibly facing malpractice claims.
Should there be a fire, a computer crash, a virus or another breakdown in the original plan, an offsite server may be the safeguard you need to protect your data.
Firms that cannot afford an online service to back up their servers might consider using an external hard drive, tape or disk to do the job, but it is wise to store them offsite in a secure location, taking measures to ensure that client information is not compromised.
Some of the most important data to protect when backing up systems are the many deadlines tracked on firm computers. Missed deadlines are a frequent cause of malpractice claims, and there are a number of software programs that can help manage this long-standing nemesis. The best docketing and calendaring systems are firmwide, with dates entered through a single data entry point and with everyone required to send all dates to the same contact. As an additional safeguard, each lawyer should have their own backup system, which can be as simple as a paper calendar as long as it's well-managed.
Another frequent cause of malpractice claims are conflicts of interest. There are multiple ways to utilize technology to increase the efficiency in searching for conflicts of interest. One new option on the market is Autonomy's iManage ConflictsManager. Another software program offering conflicts of interest prevention is Compliguard Protect. This product creates barriers to safeguard client information. Some practice management software packages contain conflicts-checking features. For firms that do not have any software created for conflicts checking, a careful process of searching the firm's database and billing records should be considered.
Use of any of these software packages will not provide a fully comprehensive conflicts-checking process, of course, because conflicts checking usually involves additional steps, such as interviewing clients, but it can help to make the process more efficient.
Another way that law firms are finding efficiency is by utilizing mobile devices. Unfortunately, without careful monitoring and use, these devices sometimes put firms at risk by compromising client information. To guard against such risks, a number of tools are hitting the market. Mobile-security software provides additional security for phones. Much like the security software used to protect personal computers - this software helps to provide guards against viruses and hackers, who are increasingly targeting mobile devices. You can find a number of mobile-security software packages at mobile-security-software- review.toptenreviews.com.
Security packages that protect against viruses have long been available for laptops, however some laptop security packages can now help protect your data from being compromised if it's stolen. These services may allow you to remotely delete information from your laptop and even track the laptop's location when it has been lost or stolen. Some services providing this security include: Laptop Cop, MyLaptopGPS, Adeona, OmniAccess 3500, Phoenix FailSafe and Absolute Software.
The power of technology today is impressive. It can be a strong component in a firm's risk management techniques. It is important to mention, however, that it's dangerous to assume that technology can stand alone. It all has its Kryptonite, so to speak. Misuses of technology, or total technology dependence, have been the source of trouble for firms. Proper use of technology as one component of a more comprehensive risk management program can strengthen your processes, decrease risks and increase efficiency, which, at the end of the day, makes you the real hero.
Attorney Protective is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. We do not guarantee the products listed, or the results that the products may or may not produce. Completing your own research before purchasing any of the above products is recommended. Because this article is intended only to make you aware that the product is available, no product testing was conducted.
Lacy Cripe, risk management and marketing communications consultant for Attorney Protective, is editor of AttPro Ally, Attorney Protective's risk management newsletter. Attorney Protective is a Berkshire Hathaway program providing legal malpractice insurance to law firms in Illinois as well as California, Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Mississippi, with plans to be in more states this year.