LawWorks & BPP University Law School23 March 2016
Pro bono legal clinics use Intralinks VIA® to protect against data breaches.
LawWorks is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay, and with the non-for-profit organizations that support them. LawWorks supports solicitors and law students willing to volunteer their time on a pro bono basis across a network of over 200 free legal advice clinics located throughout England and Wales. 28,000 individuals received legal advice across the network of clinics last year with employment, housing, and family law the three most common areas of law provided.
BPP University Law School
Within this network, BPP University Law School (BPP) runs several clinics where volunteer students provide pro bono advice under the supervision of qualified academic staff and volunteer solicitors from fifteen of the largest law firms in the UK. In addition to giving the students the chance to support their local communities and extend access to justice, participation in the clinic allows them to gain practical legal experience and enhance their employability.
Pro bono clinics handle sensitive legal matters for clients in vulnerable situations. These include employment issues, discrimination claims, and housing disputes. When handling these types of legal issues, clients, their solicitors, and law students frequently share, and collaborate on, confidential information, including lease agreements, landlord tenant correspondence and other litigation documents. These documents contain Private Personal Information (PPI) such as names, addresses, e-mails, phone numbers, and financials.
Prior to using Intralinks, all BPP client files featuring PPI were paper files, and only accessible by law students physically coming into the clinic. Google Docs was used to share template letters and guidance, but was not suitable for handling PPI. Clients would, in sending documents electronically, use a variety of methods (Google Drive, Dropbox etc.), but BPP could not endorse any of these methods. This is because there are requirements set out in the 1998 UK Data Protection Act, and by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), that specifically cover how solicitors should handle PPI. In other words, clinics must be very careful when handling this type of client information, especially if sharing them over consumer-grade file sharing services and email. If PPI accidentally leaked and fell into the wrong hands, it could be used for nefarious purposes such as identity theft. Aside from the emotional hardship it would cause clients, such an occurrence would cause reputational damage to BPP and any affiliated solicitors, leaving each party open to potential claims for damages.
After hearing a presentation about Intralinks VIA at a LawWorks roundtable event held at a large international law firm, the BPP team chose to adopt the product, ending the use of other insecure options and improving the efficiency of the clinic.
In Intralinks VIA, BPP discovered an enterprise collaboration solution that addressed a number of its needs, providing both the sharing capabilities required by a large, diverse enterprise and the high levels of security and document control needed in the legal market. They are able to apply permissions to restrict access to specific people, with visibility controls over what has been downloaded and worked on, allowing the clinic managers to track the progress of any project. Also, as law students leave the organization, they are able to de-activate their access to the information in the system. Furthermore, with solicitors spread across a number of firms and sites, they are able to view and download their clients’ documents from anywhere and at any time.
With the adoption of Intralinks VIA, BPP has found that its clinic’s overall processes are running much more efficiently and securely. Clients are able to upload multiple large files with ease, and the solicitors can immediately view and download these materials, which saves time and helps accelerate the legal process. They are able to set permissions to control access, which gives them the peace of mind that their data is protected and safe from breaches. In addition, as students come and go, knowledge is not lost because the client and matter information is centralized on Intralinks VIA, rather than in email, hard drives or other locations. With Intralinks VIA, BPP is able to protect its clients’ identities and maintain the notable brand that its dedicated legal team created. These positive business outcomes are the reasons why David Raeburn, Director of Programmes at LawWorks and Tony Martin, Supervising Solicitor at BPP are able to state that they trust Intralinks. More importantly, their clients feel reassured that their personal information is handled in the most secure fashion.