Information Governance Roles Also Emerging in Law Industry

The healthcare industry isn’t the only business area eyeing information governance (IG) for future information management roles. Information governance programs and roles are also starting to catch on in the legal field, according to an article in Law Technology News.

Like health information management (HIM) professionals, legal information management professionals are seeing their job roles transform as records go digital and information governance programs expand their responsibilities and use of data. New skills are needed in both professions in order to truly embrace IG and use it to improve the business functions in a healthcare facility or law firm.

The expanding use of digital records means “a new world of responsibility for law firm IG professionals,” the article’s authors state, saying “an effective IG program transcends traditional records and information management to include compliance requirements, security, privacy, and data flow of all firm assets.”

The article is based on a July 2014 report from the Law Firm Information Governance Symposium’s Emerging Trends Task Force, titled “A Profile of the Law Firm Information Governance Professional.”

“[IG professionals] are responsible not just for the life cycle management of a record; they now are chief stewards of all data, electronic and hard copy, wherever it resides [and] are charged with putting the processes and policies in place to effectively use information to the benefit of the firm while meeting legal and compliance requirements,” the article states.

This will sound very familiar to HIM professionals, who are starting to embrace the same opportunities and challenges related to IG programs in their own facilities. The new skills both law and healthcare information management professionals must obtain to embrace IG are similar.

The article discusses how experience with IT was once “nice to have” in the past, but now is a “must have” in IG in order to know how information is created, stored, and accessed using technology and moving data between client and firm.

A better understanding of privacy, risk, and security, and their impact on the business as a whole, is also essential for both industries’ professionals as more digital data is used and exchanged. “IG professionals must determine if those processes are flexible enough to handle the present and future IG needs of the firm, while not impeding the ability of lawyers to effectively practice,” the authors wrote. The same can be said for HIM professionals, who must also be concerned about inhibiting care processes when considering privacy and security and other information governance policies.

Information and privacy self-audits, and the skills to conduct such audits, also play a part in legal and healthcare IG programs.

Also, the authors predict that information governance will lead information managers to have a more prominent and vital role in a law firm, and eventually may move into “C-level” or officer positions. The role of “chief information governance officer” is on the horizon in both health and legal areas if, as the article states, information managers can “meet the technical, business, and practical needs of the role.” In other words, if they can grow their skills.


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