Passing the NCBA Audit: Reinforcing Leadership in Information Security

Aug 13, 2021 5 min read

With software attacks, identity theft, and information extortion on the rise, information security is a serious concern. This is particularly true for legal services, due to the large amount of sensitive information and client data involved. According to a 2021 Bloomberg Law survey, legal and regulatory concerns around data and privacy are among the greatest challenges facing legal professionals specializing in technology.

Information security is a fundamental component of risk management in the legal services industry. Tech-forward legal firms hold themselves to high standards internally. However, to ensure complete security for their clients, they must evaluate the practices of partners and subcontractors. The process of a full evaluation is time-consuming and laborious, requiring specific technical knowledge that goes beyond what a standard IT or legal team can cover. This is where the Subcontractor Oversight Program can help.

Man Typing-Compliance

A rigorous Program to Increase Compliance

The National Creditors Bar Association (NBCA), a trade association dedicated to law firms who specialize in creditors’ rights law, is leading a charge to offer an easy solution for law firms. Their Subcontractor Oversight Program assesses and certifies the information security and internal control environments of third-party subcontractors for law firms, including vendors such as ABC Legal Services, for compliance with evolving industry standards.

The audit includes a comprehensive examination of information security systems and procedures, covering everything from access reviews and password parameters to disaster recovery plans and insurance requirements. Assessment areas include vendor contracts, human resources security and integrity, information security, customer contact, incident reporting, business continuity and disaster recovery, physical security, and insurance. Vendors whose security and control environments are up to par receive the NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Assessment Certification.

The program is new and growing. Last week, ABC Legal and Docketly became two of the first six subcontractors to pass the audit and receive a certification.

Benefits of the NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Certification

The NCBA certification for subcontractors provides law firms with distinct benefits including:

  • Expert Assessment
  • Cross Comparison
  • Peace of Mind

Expert Assessment: Law firms, savvy though they may be, lack the subject matter expertise necessary to thoroughly audit the information security systems of their subcontractors. The NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Program solves this problem by collaborating with Crowe LLP. Crowe LLP, who conducts the assessments on behalf of the NCBA, is a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm that combines industry expertise, functional specialization, and technological innovation to ensure their audits are best in class. With Crowe LLP handling the assessment, firms can be sure subcontractors are protecting their clients’ information.

Cross Comparison: Law firms auditing subcontractors themselves results in a massive opportunity cost in both time and resources, preventing them from assessing as many vendors as is prudent. The NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Program allows firms to access a subcontractor’s detailed assessment for only $100, dramatically reducing the cost of each audit. Firms can purchase these inexpensive assessments prior to going into business with a subcontractor. Since the program assesses all subcontractors on a consistent standard, law firms can do a true cross-comparison and be confident in their vendor choice.

“When we receive the assessments from NCBA, there are controls we can count on,” Scott Morris of Tromberg, Morris & Poulin, PLLC told NCBA Executive Director Liz Terry during an interview earlier this year, “we know we are comparing apples to apples.”

Peace of Mind: With lawsuits and reputations on the line, law firms cannot afford to misstep when it comes to information security. These high stakes make subcontracting stressful. The NCBA, a trusted organization in the legal industry, eliminates that stress by working with Crowe LLP to guarantee that certified venders are using information security systems and protocols that align with industry standards thereby ensuring the protection of sensitive client data.

During the aforementioned interview, Morris affirmed the value of having organizations like the NCBA and Crowe LLP perform the audit, stating “knowing that our vendors are being assessed by an experienced accounting firm gives us, and our clients, confidence in the assessment process.”

Leading the Industry and Protecting Client Data

The downside potential of information breaches in the legal industry is immense. Not only can breaches halt business operations in the face of looming deadlines, but they can also expose client data to bad actors. A failure to diligently protect client data can result in lawsuits, declining customer confidence, and crucially, a loss of trust. In an industry where trust is paramount, its loss is devastating.

The NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Assessment Certificate demands the most exhaustive audit of security and internal control environments in the industry. Going through the audit reinforces a subcontractor’s dedication to compliance and information security. Additionally, it signals their devotion to protecting client information and maintaining a strong, trustworthy relationship with the law firms who hire them. To date, the NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Assessment Certificate has only been awarded to six subcontractors, including ABC Legal.

ABC Legal prides itself on being at the forefront of technology and compliance trends in the industry. Whether it involves promoting public health through an early response to the Covid-19 pandemic or innovating service of process through the automation of alternative service – ABC Legal consistently acts as an industry leader. Adopting the NCBA Subcontractor Oversight Assessment Certificate is just the latest step ABC Legal is taking to ensure the confidentially of client data and lead the legal tech industry in compliance.

To learn more about how ABC Legal is pushing the legal services industry forward, subscribe to the ABC Legal Blog or follow us on social media. 

About ABC Legal

With more than 2,000 process servers across the U.S. and 75 countries, ABC Legal is the nation’s leading service of process and court filing provider, as well as the Acting Central Authority to the U.S. Department of Justice. Our digital approach saves valuable time and resources, and our cloud-based solutions are compatible for use on desktop, browser, and smartphones. Docketly — an ABC Legal subsidiary — provides appearance counsel on a digital, custom-built platform that smoothly integrates with our applications and services. Learn more at www.abclegal.com

Asad Tacy

Written by

Asad Tacy
Marketing Intern, ABC Legal Services. Asad is a student at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. His intellectual interests range from evolutionary theory to geopolitics. Particularly concerned with the future of collective sensemaking, Asad is considering pursuing a career in the strategic development of new forms of communication technology after graduating.

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