17 August, 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Freehills, one of Australiasa commercial law firms, today announced the completion of the first stage of the implementation of Workshare Professional 4 as part of a document lifecycle management initiative designed to support its risk mitigation strategy around all Microsoft Office documents and emails handled by the firm.
In discussing the project, Freehills IT Director, Russell Wright, said that while many businesses exchange electronic documents frequently for efficiency, most electronic document creation tools often leave hidden information in a document that a business may not be able to identify, or know how to remove. This can lead to publicly embarrassing or damaging situations in inadvertently revealing personnel, customer, business, or other, confidential information.
With over 2000 lawyers and employees constantly handling a high volume of sensitive documents, often with up to twenty authors and 700 pages in length, Freehills needed to implement a more clearly defined document life-cycle management process. This included stripping out metadata* contained or hidden within documents before sending them to external parties, improving the management of multiple changes by multiple authors, and verifying the accuracy of these documents. The firm also needed to introduce a more easily understandable audit trail of changes made to documents, along with an accurate and traceable history of where documents have been emailed within an external environment.
“Electronic document creation and email communication can provide tremendous efficiency benefits, however, as the most difficult form of communication to manage, it poses a substantial risk to business that most people are simply unaware of,” explained Mr Wright.
The firm embarked upon a strategy to supplement and complement its existing document related risk management practices, and which was in keeping with the best practice standards and forward-thinking approach associated with Freehills. Working closely with implementation partner, Alphawest, Freehills chose Workshare Professional 4 as the most appropriate product to help it achieve its risk mitigation objectives. “We wanted a consolidated, seamless solution that would support rather than obstruct the process around e-document construction and lifecycle management. Workshare was the only solution out there that could meet our needs,” said Mr Wright.
“We see this as a tremendous benefit not only to Freehills, but, more importantly, our clients, who will benefit from the increased speed in turnaround of legal work and the improved management of risk,” continued Mr Wright.
Freehills, which has a presence throughout Australia and South East Asia, has purchased more than 2000 licenses to cover its entire workforce of 2000 employees.
According to Andrew Pearson, General Manager APAC at Workshare, Workshare Professional makes the review and exchange of Microsoft Office documents secure, accurate and compliant. “Our solution provides a secure way to assemble, review, and verify document content by providing an audit trail of what people have done with and to the document since its inception. It also converts all Office file documents to PDF in a single click and enables policy-based document security controls,” explained Mr Pearson.
“By implementing a framework for email and electronic document risk mitigation, Freehills has invested in a form of business insurance that will provide them with a strong content security solution for the future. This framework will support Freehills’ existing processes around how the firm works with email and electronic documents. However, there is no point in having processes without integrity and Freehills are leading the Australian market in this respect,” Mr Pearson continued.
The next phase of the project will see Workshare deployed beyond the current pilot group of users to the broader firm.