Thursday, March 5, 2015

Laterals Leaving, Laptops and Leftovers


A reader sent word of a fascinating story of (alleged) intrigue tied to lateral lawyer movement and information governance: "Law firms clash over laptops taken by departing lawyers" --
  • "The suit by Pennsylvania insurance boutique Nelson Brown Hamilton & Krekstein initially sought the return of laptops taken by 14 departing lawyers to Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports. The suit seeks damages under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act."
  • "After the suit was filed last May, Lewis Brisbois returned the laptops, but erased and preserved the information they held, the story says. Now both law firms have hired computer experts to determine what information was on the devices."
  • "Jana Lubert, general counsel at Lewis Brisbois, told the National Law Journal that the laptops weren’t stolen. “It is important to note that at no time before or after the lawyers left Nelson Levine, which occurred over a year ago, was the data itself ever viewed by anyone who was not privileged and authorized to see it,” Lubert said."
Looking at the general information governance issue tied to lateral movement, and putting the merits of this particular case aside, now is a good time to note that no firm wants to find itself in the position of lawyers removing client information in an unmanaged fashion.

Some organizations are using technology tools to monitor abnormal lawyer document activity and providing early warnings by watching for unusual activity. This approach can give management early visibility so they can investigate and address any concerns before they become serious crises. (Interested readers can learn more about Intapp Activity Tracker and read a few testimonials from firms making use of the technology as a risk mitigation strategy.)

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