Many aspects of law will change following the UK’s divorce from the EU. With new regulations set to adjust how we seek legal advice and practice law, it’s critical that those in the legal industry keep abreast of new regulations up to and following Brexit.
Although we don’t know what the future holds regarding a post-EU UK, there is already a key piece of EU-created legislation set to be introduced in May 2018 that will have a huge impact on UK law. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU project, however, it’s very likely that the British government will adopt it after Brexit.
This article investigates how GDPR could impact professionals in the legal sector and how you can prepare for it in your workplace.
What is GDPR?
GDPR is a brainchild of the EU and has been in progress for approximately four years. Receiving the go-ahead in 2016, GDPR covers the safe use of data in an age when cyberattacks can wreak havoc in professional digital environments. This piece of legislation is intended to create a framework that will determine how data is currently used. When this piece of legislation was announced, it was said that it would only impact huge organisations like Google, Facebook and Twitter — but this is reportedly not now the case.
How data protection will change in the UK legal sector
The first aspect of GDPR that you must be aware of is that it will take over from the Data Protection Act 1998.
As law firms control and process droves of sensitive data for their clients, it’s crucial for them to abide by up-to-date rules. With the instating of GDPR, clients of law firms will have access to an easier process of claiming compensation against firms that breach data protection rules. This means that law firms should reassess their security policies and update their current security systems to ensure data breach risks are minimised.
If you work in a law firm and don’t abide by new GDPR rules once they’re implemented, your company can incur significant penalises — which could be a fine of 4% of your business’ turnover. Consequently, the introduction of GDPR could potentially make or break a firm, which is why professionals need to prepare for changes now.
How to get ready for GDPR
Fortunately, your law firm has time to prepare for GDPR. The first thing you should do is evaluate your current data protection measures and study what is expected of your firm regarding GDPR. That way, you can make sure that all your data is protected with no risk of breaching new rules. Reviewing your ongoing contracts and company policies to ensure that they are in line with the data protection framework is also part of this step.
However, there might be extra work involved if your law firm uses a third party to monitor data. If this is the case, arrange a meeting and go over how your company and the third-party firm can comply with GDPR. Also inform them that they must notify you immediately of any suspicious activity that could breach GDPR.
Since you have a few months until GDPR is set to become law, use this time to check your staff data protection policies. Ensure these meet GDPR reequipments and start organising time in the working day for your staff to retrain themselves, if necessary. If your company doesn’t already have a designated officer that handles data protection, you could perhaps consider recruiting someone. This might be worthwhile in order to have a closer and clearer oversight of processes to protect company and clients.
Overall, training and education will lay the foundations of ensuring a smooth transition to GDPR. Make sure that staff are aware of the consequences of breaching this new legislation and tell them how they can help to prevent the mishandling of data. It might be useful to do this in one-to-one sessions where you can specify how data protection relates to the individual’s role within the business.
This article was researched and created by TRUE Solicitors LLP — an expert personal injury firm with a team of more than 220 people and offices across the UK.