When delivering legal services to your clients, you must be able to help them meet regulatory requirements across the jurisdictions in which they work or provide their services. This might be part of your overall service delivery as a practice. Alternatively, you might find yourself specifically working with clients who need to improve their operations and processes around matters like security and data privacy.
If you deliver such services from your legal practice, compliance technology will be a vital component of your toolkit.
What is compliance technology?
Compliance technology is a specialist niche within the broader legal tech space. Many all-in-one legal tech platforms include compliance technology or features, or you can find specialist providers that focus solely on this niche. Focused compliance tools tend to be more tailored to businesses focusing on compliance as an individual issue. As a legal practice, you are probably better suited to finding a platform that utilizes compliance technology within its suite of features.
In general, compliance technology is anything that helps you help your clients meet data security, cybersecurity, and any other regulations to which they must adhere. Compliance technology was initially nothing more than secure storage. Today, it consists of various tools that allow you to help your clients keep up to date with new and evolving regulations across anything from GDPR to IT security upgrades.
What is the relationship between compliance and technology?
In the modern world, you could argue the relationship is a dependent one!
While you can deliver compliance management and assistance to your clients without relying on technology, you will increasingly find this an unsustainable approach to doing so. Legal clients increasingly want more for less, and if you cannot deliver it, the reality is they will find another legal practice.
Using technology to improve compliance can involve several processes, including:
- Automating processes and workflows, such as the checking of documents or the monitoring of security systems.
- Organizing data in line with the relevant regulatory frameworks.
- Storing and managing data.
- Streamlining reporting processes to your clients or to the bodies to whom they are accountable for compliance.
- Making the processes around compliance more accessible, enabling your clients to be more engaged in their compliance activities.
What roles do big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning play in compliance technology?
Many things go into making compliance technology work for your legal practice and your clients. Big data, AI, and machine learning feature heavily in the best tools.
Big data in compliance technology
Big data’s role in compliance technology revolves around the scale at which you can analyze data and automate actions to maintain security. Working with big data allows your legal practice to assess threats in real-time, provide advice, and in the case of automated systems, shut down threats before anything happens.
AI in compliance technology
As with its use in other legal tech functions, the primary purpose of AI in a compliance technology context is to automate workflows. AI is often used in an eDiscovery sense, continuously reviewing regulations and notifying you where updates introduce threats or potentially mean previously compliant actions are now contravening the rules. You can also use AI aligned with big data, as explained above.
Machine learning in compliance technology
Machine learning can give an added layer to your compliance monitoring tasks, resolving existing and new issues and helping you identify potential future threats, and even predicting whether your clients may have had compliance problems in the past.
The best tools use machine learning alongside AI-driven eDiscovery to learn even more about what compliance threats are currently prevalent overall and in your clients' industries.
What functions can compliance technology perform for law firms?
Now we know more about what drives compliance technology, we will explore how you can use it to deliver better service levels to your clients.
Risk assessment and management
Risk assessment and risk management are the foundational function of many compliance technology tools. The best tools will enable you to customize the risks you assess, how you grade them, and how you manage them. After all, not all your clients are the same!
Compliance technology will help your practice:
- Identify and act on legal or regulatory risks your clients face.
- Provide data-rich mapping of the specific areas of your clients' businesses based on risk.
- Assign and manage clients’ in-house accountability for risk management.
- Put controls in place, identify risk gaps, and prioritize remedial actions.
Compliance technology is helpful for case management in several respects, including:
- Customizing data forms required to be compliant with GDPR or other local regulations.
- Ensuring data privacy is maintained during case management processes.
- Creating data access hierarchies and permissions to maintain the integrity of data.
- Allowing collaboration while maintaining data security.
- Data validation from eDiscovery tasks.
If the legal tech you are using for compliance integrates with the other tools in your tech stack, you can use it for workflow management and automation and set up systems to only trigger actions if compliance requirements are met. This ensures that on the rare occasions you might have an issue, you have a fail-safe against being non-compliant and avoid any additional problems.
Training and learning management
It is common for legal practices to deliver legal training, particularly to in-house teams who might not necessarily have a legal background but have a role in maintaining overall compliance. Sales and customer service teams, for example, have access to a wealth of data as part of their roles.
If your practice delivers such training, compliance technology can help you track learning and deliver reports to those who need them.
Communication management is more than just having a disclaimer at the bottom of an email!
Today, your clients may need help in monitoring how their communications keep them compliant. If your clients send and receive many emails externally that include attachments, for example, they may need assistance in monitoring this and assessing risk, and implementing solutions that reduce these.
Data protection and privacy
Worldwide, regulations around data protection and privacy are only going to continue tightening.
In addition to ensuring all your clients’ documents and working practices adhere to such regulations, you will also need to help them to quickly react to changes to these.
Making compliance technology work for you
The best way to make compliance technology work for you is to identify the compliance issues you need help delivering for your clients. Once you know this, you can find an all-in-one legal tech solution or look specifically for compliance software that offers a specific set of functions.
Remember, the best legal tech software will include a full range of compliance features, so you are likely better off exploring this route rather than looking at a standalone compliance tool.