Young Employees impact IT Support Policies at Law Firms

Law Firm IT SupportA recent article on Legal Loudspeaker discusses why young employees at law firms are posing problems in data security due to their internet and computer usage.  The article in its entirety can be found here.  However, we believe some of the points are worth noting for our avid legal readers who may unknowingly face these issues in their firms:

According to a recent Cisco survey, seven out of ten (70%) young employees break their companies’ IT policies regularly. This is dangerous for your law practice for a multitude of reasons. Below are the Cisco stats; each will come with subsequent analysis so you know what this means for your law firm. The most common reasons for breaking IT rules are:

33% don’t think they are doing anything wrong

This is dangerous for any law firm. It’s like playing poker with my Grandma. She has no clue what’s going on and ends up going ‘all in’ with a pair of threes. The rest of us, who know how to play the game (we’re certainly not professionals), get thrown off and she takes the pot. Essentially, her lack of knowledge of the rules and etiquette makes her a dangerous person at the table because you never know what you’re going to get. This extends to your young rule breakers, who don’t understand business and certainly don’t know how your firm gets money to pay them every month.   

22% feel they need access to unauthorized applications for their jobs

This is dangerous because a lot of the unauthorized applications they’re reaching for are usually media-driven; this means you’ll see use of Pandora, which slows down internet speeds for everyone, peer-to-peer programs like LimeWire which takes viruses and malware on a tour of your server room, and social media, which decreases work-productivity (the stuff that makes you money).

19% cite lack of enforcement

Just about anyone will tell you that if you make rules but don’t enforce them you haven’t made any rules. Imagine if one day you woke up and a new law had been passed: you must follow the speed limit but we will never penalize you if you don’t (no points, fines, etc.); who would travel at the speed limit?

18% cite a lack of time to think about the policies, 16% say policies are inconvenient, and 15% ‘forget’ to abide by these policies

Personally, these are ‘outs’ in my opinion. If you don’t have time to think about the rules, or if the rules are inconvenient, or if you simply forget to the follow the rules, there should still be penalties. These are excuses not defenses. If they don’t work in criminal court they shouldn’t work at your law firm.

61% say the responsibility for protecting information and devises falls on the IT service provider and not on individual employees

This is another excuse but a telling one nonetheless. Young employees don’t want to be bothered with the ramifications of their actions so they will blame your IT Guy or your Managed Services Provider (or MSP) for giving them the opportunity to commit the crime. Okay, well two can play by those rules.

The article goes on to detail steps law firms should take to prevent these issues (Read here).  While the entire article is worth your read, I feel the single most important step is communication of your policies on computer and internet usage.  And if you don’t have policies in place and written, do so immediatley.  And if you are not sure what those rules should be, feel free to contact Great Lakes Computer to have one of our IT consultants perform an evaluation of your network policies and procedures, and provide consultation on how to improve upon them.

Young employees are a great asset for law firms, as they bring fresh ideas and new perspectives, as well as endless vigor and energy.  But without written rules and being told what is expected, it is no fault of theirs if they are careless with their internet and newtwork usage.

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Learn more about the author Bob Martin