Lawyers Without Borders7 November 2014
LWOB exclusively uses Intralinks® for secure, easy-to-use file sharing in extreme high-risk environments.
When your mission is to create legal frameworks in troubled regions of the world to fight human trafficking, terrorism, and other human rights offenses, document security is not a matter of preference: It can literally be a matter of life and death.
Founded in 2000, Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) is an international non-profit operating out of its headquarters in the United States and a satellite office in the United Kingdom. LWOB is accredited with several of the United Nations agencies and departments and holds special consultative status at the UN. At any given time, hundreds of pro bono lawyers from major multinational law firms are engaged in pro bono work with the organization. The organization’s field work takes place in some of the world’s most conflict-ridden regions where teams of lawyers are helping to forge a more solid foundation for the rule of law and to strengthen the integrity of legal process. The work often requires lawyers to share and collaborate on highly sensitive material. "If those documents fall into the wrong hands, it can have dire consequences for the brave people working in-country," says LWOB founder, Christina Storm.
Against this backdrop where nearly all projects involve collaborative efforts, it is essential that LWOB maintain absolute document security without sacrificing ease of cross border document access. Storm’s organization learned early in its existence that paper documents were not an option, due to the risk of them being stolen, seized at airport checkpoints or during border crossings. "There have been documents which if leaked would endanger volunteers and partners with official reprisal. On some occasions, there is so much sensitivity involved that I’m not even comfortable with third parties shredding the documents. We need absolute failsafe security," says Storm.
Initially, LWOB transferred files through email or FTP. However, both of these methods posed serious security risks. LWOB also tried a SharePoint file-sharing application, but when it became clear that the system was compromised in the country in which they are operating, the site had to be taken down and the entirety of the files immediately deleted.
Ever since, LWOB has searched for a solution that offered strong security coupled with the flexibility that enabled document sharing across continents. LWOB needed to be able to control how case files and other legal documents were shared and viewed. Having the ability to program, in advance, access expiration to sensitive files, was a feature that they hadn’t even dreamed possible.
One of LWOB’s long-time law firm supporters suggested Intralinks, Inc. as a solution. The firm was familiar with LWOB’s need for a secure portal and was already familiar with Intralinks from their commercial practice, as a trusted platform to support highly sensitive use-cases, including M&A transactions. As Storm puts it, "we thought Huddle was the best option for us until we met Intralinks."
Unlike consumer file synch and share (FSS) products, Intralinks has the document security features an organization like LWOB needed to ensure absolute confidentiality and safety. LWOB chose Intralinks for its secure file sharing and collaboration capabilities, and its ability to provide complete lifetime content control. Even if electronic documents are downloaded or accidentally sent to the wrong people, LWOB can leverage the Intralinks Information Rights Management (IRM) capabilities to retract access in real-time. LWOB also recognized that, even with this rich feature set, the Intralinks product was easy for their teams to use and administer. "Intralinks gives me full control over who has permission to see or share a document. Programming the user permissions, a shortcoming in many online portals, is straightforward and intuitive with the Intralinks product. I’m in control, and have no worries or doubts about people seeing what they’re not supposed to see or not seeing what I want them to see," says Storm.
Given that LWOB requires that lawyers frequently travel around the globe, Intralinks secure mobile suits their needs by allowing them to review, comment, and annotate remotely. Applications for iPhone, iPad and Android devices ensure compatibility regardless of the users’ technology choices. New versions of documents are uploaded in real time guaranteeing that all team members have the most up to date documents. Access to previous versions is always available and everyone on the team can see what was uploaded by whom and when. Notifications of upload or modifications are automatic, with reminders via email and at the user dashboard landing page.
LWOB is also very impressed with the 24/7 multi-language support Intralinks provides. This is especially important because of the international nature of their work. "Intralinks is a natural partner for LWOB,” said Storm. “They have depth of experience in the legal community, matched by depth of expertise in data security and information privacy."