30 October 2019

Report flags in-house privacy faults

New report gives the good news and the bad news as it reveals legal teams are growing, but not fully equipped to handle privacy regulations.

The 2019 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report based on a recent survey of  attorneys, legal directors, general counsel, and paralegals has flagged legal teams are not adequately equipped to handle privacy issues. The report was released by in-house legal specialist software providers Exterro Inc, the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) and, In The House.

Key findings

The key findings reveal an alarmingly low rate of concern for new privacy regulations, with 68 percent of respondents either not concerned or only somewhat concerned about new and pending privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). There is a lack of preparedness for responding to privacy regulations, with only about 15 percent of organizations having a defined process prepared to respond to pending privacy regulations.  Also, 58 percent of respondents don’t have a data map or inventory for tracking personal data and 56 percent don’t know how the organization’s data map or inventory is managed. The report also highlights that in-house legal departments are consolidating outsourced legal activities into a preferred network of law firm providers. In this year’s report, 64 percent of respondents use 10 law firms or fewer, compared to only 47 percent last year. The prevalence of dedicated e-discovery personnel is growing in corporate legal departments and in-house teams are focused on being more e-discovery and technically savvy. Half (50 percent) of in-house legal departments have an e-discovery team (formal or informal), while 60 percent of in-house legal teams are getting dedicated IT services inside legal or a mix of inside and outside of legal to support e-discovery processes, up 11 percent from 2018. Lastly, 56 percent of in-house legal teams all or most of the time conduct at least a first pass review before subsequently sending document for law firm review.

“Good and bad”

Explaining the report, it “is full of both good and bad news. It’s good to see that in-house legal teams are becoming more mature in their management of e-discovery processes, but it is alarming to see how unprepared so many legal teams are for the CCPA and other looming privacy regulations. Legal teams must take notice of how these regulations will impact their companies and business processes,” said Bill Piwonka, cmo at Exterro. “Less than 20 percent of respondents describe their e-discovery maturity as “ad hoc” even with the increasing numbers of smaller teams. With high levels of satisfaction for both in house teams and outsourced services, law firms and service providers will need to differentiate to dislodge incumbents,” said Mary Mack, executive director at ACEDS. The results “illustrate the increased empowerment of in-house counsel over prior years, yet it also reveals that much work remains to be done,” said Chris Colvin, founder & ceo at In The House. The full report can be downloaded here.