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Oil, Data... And The Lawyer?

Oil, Data... And The Lawyer?

I read recently that "data is the new oil" which resonated for me, probably because having spent my life in Aberdeen, I appreciate and relate to the importance of the oil and gas industry to the economy, particularly in the North East.

"Data" isn't something you would usually associate with a lawyer like me. But, accessing and processing data is vital to the legal industry.  It's an essential part of delivering a second to none service to our clients.

At Burness Paull, having access to the firm’s data (client files, e-mails, client intel and legal resources) and being connected to that data 24/7 is vital. This is evermore important at Burness Paull because we work as "one firm" across three offices in Scotland (Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh) all connected via our IT systems.

I spend much of my time working across the three offices but often work from home and on the move. Having the right infrastructure in place to advise clients whenever they need, from wherever I may be is key. That is achieved through hybrid cloud access to our systems or use of smartphones and tablets. This sort of client service was just not possible before the advent of the digital world.

It goes without saying that of paramount importance to Burness Paull is security of our data. That involves a number of key features, not just user passwords. Access to data is important, but the ability to control and regulate access is also relevant. The location of where our data is stored is also an important factor. All businesses have to remember that use of cloud technology sometimes involves storage of data outwith Europe which, without proper compliance steps being taken is in breach of the data protection regime.

I work as a technology lawyer and regularly advise clients on IT issues. I've found that security of a company's data is important but also access and portability of data across platforms is a concern. Getting the "legals" in place is key, but using your IT service providers and discussing the sort of infrastructure a business needs is vital.

So, is "data the new oil”? I, without question, believe yes it is. But first things first, getting and staying connected is critical to gain access to those data "reserves".

Ross McKenzie
Senior Solicitor

This article appeared as a guest blog on the IFB website on 9 September 2013. The article can be found here.