SCL KM Committee event on 18th June 2019 – Data governance, information security and the power of knowledge.

July 3, 2019

The SCL Knowledge Management (KM) Committee hosted an event at Linklaters LLP on the 18th June on the hot topic of data governance. The session highlighted the conflict between information security versus the potential power of data if it can be easily shared with KM tools.

The event was chaired by Melanie Farquharson (3Kites) and Andrew Dey (Independent Consultant). They were also joined by four panellists: CJ Anderson (Data Governance Consultant, Hogan Lovells), Jamie Pilgrim (Senior Knowledge System Manager, Linklaters), Alicia Hardy (Director of Professional Support, White & Case) and Alex Smith (Global RAVN Product Lead, iManage).

At the start of the meeting there was a quick poll to determine whether attendee’s DMS (Document Management System) were open or closed. Out of 23, 8 on the night said their DMS’s were open compared to 4 which were closed. Although this was a very small sample, it was consistent with a survey conducted by LITIG in 2016 (which found 80% had open DMS as opposed to 20% which were closed).  

It was established that there were multiple factors as to why firms were locking down data and it was mainly due to client requirements. There is a general unease that if client data is readily available it could open firms up to a potential Panama Papers scandal through a rogue employee or a cyber-attack. Although in the event of a rogue employee or a cyber-attack it is unlikely that high levels of security to a DMS system is going to have much impact in stopping such an event unfolding.

It was also suggested that GDPR legislation is putting the spotlight on data. As a response firms are locking down their systems to mitigate risk, which in turn is reducing accessibility to all data rather than just personal data which is subject to the GDPR.

The event provided some top tips to get the best out of data. Firstly, a governance committee should be established to co-ordinate all areas of the business to make sure there is a joined-up approach. This could include teams like Technology, Knowledge & Learning, and Risk to make sure they are on the same page. Secondly, as a collective, the governance committee should create the required framework and lifecycle management to make sure that data is treated as an asset. 

The session did provoke some interesting thoughts around how artificial intelligence (AI) will work with data in the future. It was recommended by Alex Smith that “information architecture should always come before artificial intelligence…don’t chase the system, chase the data”. 

Another interesting thought around AI was in relation to data lifecycles. With bots doing most of the leg work, whose role will it be to make sure the data captured and analysed is relevant and up to date?

James Holyday is Chair of the SCL KM Group and Knowledge Manager at Linklaters LLP.