Lateral Prevention & Defense

Lawyer departures create significant expense and risk for a law firm. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, lawyer turnover costs the average law firm $35 million annually in direct costs and lost opportunities. And in these cases, the risks can actually exceed the cost of a transferred book of business. Competitive and even malpractice dangers are fueled when client information is transported prior to official consent, or when lawyers take work product from non-migrating clients or the firm's knowledge management and precedent libraries.

It's vitally important that law firms keep close tabs on how lawyers and staff treat client information. At an organizational level, firms must comply with several professional duties including confidentiality and records management obligations. At the level of individual lawyers, unusually high document check out volume is often a warning sign of an impending lateral departure.

The Problem

In the past, it was easy to see the warning signs, as lawyers worked only with physical files. Today, the combination of electronic storage and thumb drives mean that tens of thousands of documents can leave the firm in someone's pocket. And with open access policies giving broad access to sensitive firm and client information, lawyers planning lateral departures may take it upon themselves to accelerate the presumed migration of their clients, or help themselves to valuable firm intellectual property.

Flagging abnormal and suspicious behavior can in practice avert significant risk. In the case of lateral hires, several firms have used the early warning provided by alerting technology as an opportunity to successfully intervene and prevent a lateral defection by working with the partners in question before they announced their departure. Yet detecting this activity without technological aids can be difficult if not impossible.

The Intapp Solution – Intapp Walls + Activity Tracker

Intapp provides integrated software products designed to protect and warn firms of abnormal activity that might indicate data leakage or pending lateral movement. First, Intapp Walls automates confidentiality management and enforcement so that the firm’s most sensitive information is locked down and accessible on a limited basis. In conjunction, Intapp Activity Tracker provides an early warning system for suspicious behavior.

Activity Tracker watches for unusual behavior, including high volume check outs from firm document management libraries, and gives management an early warning so they can investigate and address issues early. It works with existing firm applications and is transparent to lawyers and staff so it doesn't obstruct routine work or business processes.

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