Rules and regulations are not strange concepts to law firms. In fact, they probably know rules and regulations better than any other business as they practice in it each and every day. But when those rules and regulations relate to how they market their services or communicate with their clients, it may seem a little foreign to them.
Enter the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short. The GDPR will be implemented with the aim of giving individual people more control over and access to their personal data. The new rules go into effect on May 25, 2018 in the EU and will affect how any law firm with a European client handles their data. And if you think you have already secured your client data and don’t need to worry, you will want to double check because your law firm could be fined up to €20 million or 4% of your revenue — whichever is higher.
To avoid the hefty penalties, law firms need to stay ahead of the game and change their practices before when the rule goes into effect in 2018. After several years of helping law firms improve how they collect and use client data through CRM data automation, we know what law firms need in order to stay compliant with new rules aimed at protecting client data and privacy. Check them out below to make sure your law firm is GDPR compliant.
1. Unquestionable Data Transparency
Honesty. Trust. Accountability. These are qualities the GDPR hopes to increase with new rules surrounding personal data. The GDPR asks that companies document the criteria they collect from their clients, the process they use to do it, and how they apply that data to their business. This provides people with a clearer picture of how their personal information is gathered and used.
As a law firm, this means you will need to carefully document the data you have, how you gathered it, and how you’re using it to provide a better level of service. In addition. you need to be able to provide these details to clients or governing bodies when asked to prove that you gathered client data in a lawful manner.
2. Complete Client Consent
Even though a client may provide you with their email address or phone number to find out more about your services or relay communications, that doesn’t mean they are expressly consenting you storing their data. To avoid individuals having their data stored with businesses without their consent, the GDPR requires that companies receive explicit consent from their clients.
To stay compliant with the consent guidelines within the GDPR, make sure you ask each and every one of your clients if you have their permission to record their email, phone number, names, and any other piece of client data that you need to service them. This can be in the form of a checkbox on your website, an email form, or a conversation. Just make sure that their consent is documented and dated so you can easily prove to any governing body that you were compliant with the rules.
3. Lawful Basis
According to the GDPR, businesses can’t collect personal data without a lawful reason. The rationale behind gathering personal data needs to be there. Otherwise, why would businesses need client data at all?
To comply, your law firm will want to think long and hard about why you are gathering client information before you start collecting any. If you are unable to tie a data point back to a lawful business reason, you will want to remove it from your data collection process. This also includes data that you may not be using. If you’re storing information that you aren’t able to use, there’s no reason for it to exist and you may want to strike that from your collection efforts as well.
4. Respect for Clients’ Rights
Today, individuals aren’t given extensive control, or even any control at all, over their personal data. The GDPR will change that. When an individual requests access to their information that businesses have stored, the GDPR requires that businesses hand it over. It is a client’s right to review the information you have stored on them and decide for themselves if they want their record erased. In addition to their right to review their personal data, they also have the right to be forgotten and the right to move their data.
To make sure that your law firm can handle these requests from clients, make sure you have an accurate record of the data you have collected and have a process in place for handing that information over to clients. It’s also a good idea to make it easy for clients to request this information, giving them a better customer experience.
Secure Your Client Data With Confidence
Securing your client data and information can seem like a daunting task—one that as a law firm you might not know a lot about. For more information on data security, find out how your law firm can secure your client data and create a deeper level of trust.