Excerpt from the Argyle Corporate Counsel Forum

Number one, just the nature of the beast, it is not secure, it is almost impossible to keep track of it on a long-term basis, so e-mail is really out of the question if we were going to maintain a trackable, auditable database of templates, executed contracts, policies, and then of course for larger projects if we end up in a document review situation. So e-mail is out of the question.


12 February 2010

I recently spoke at the Argyle Corporate Counsel Leadership Forum in Chicago, Illinois. It was a great opportunity to meet counsel from many different businesses, and share some very interesting ideas. On this panel, I discussed the best way to securely share critical information outside the company firewall.

The first question that we would ask ourselves is, what is it that we are really prepared to share? What do we have to share in the scope of the engagement? And really, is e-mail appropriate, or are there better solutions? And we very quickly ruled out e-mail. Number one, just the nature of the beast, it is not secure, it is almost impossible to keep track of it on a long-term basis, so e-mail is really out of the question if we were going to maintain a trackable, auditable database of templates, executed contracts, policies, and then of course for larger projects if we end up in a document review situation. So e-mail is out of the question.

The other alternatives are FTP site, which is kind of clunky from my point of view. It's not something that gives the business owner, or legal department, control, and VPN access is also a little dicey. It calls for you to bring IT in and look at your policies and look at what VPN access really means. How deep into the organization and your shared drives does that really mean the outsourced providers are going to peek in and explore?

No more am I really comfortable managing a big litigation or a big transaction strictly on e-mail. In M&A you set up a data room. And in IP management, we set up exchanges to manage a patent portfolio. And for outsourcing a litigation discovery process, clearly there are technologies on the search and forensics side that specialize in that, but for day-to-day document exchange with all your business partners, especially partners overseas, having these central repositories or exchanges [means] they can access [information] from anywhere, but it doesn't change the nature of your control over the information.

We're looking for search capability that is as good as Google, if not better, and workflow features that will help you in the transaction process, and essentially, if you know your transaction process, and you have an intelligent conversation with a provider of a platform like ours, they ought to be able to have that conversation and show you the places in the transaction where the platform saves time, saves money, and makes it more efficient.