Data Protection in Legal Practice Very Important, Lawyers Reminded 

Data Protection in Legal Practice Very Important, Lawyers Reminded 

Steve Aya

Lawyers have been advised to take Data Protection as a very important part of legal practice and therefore, do all they can to protect it. This view was expressed by speakers at the Nigeria Bar Association Section of Legal Practice (NBA-SLP) one-day a well-attended webinar titled ‘Data Protection in Legal Practice: The Dos and Don’ts’, on Thursday, 28th March, 2024.

The Speakers, Mr Olumide Babalola, a Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, and Mr Ridwan Oloyede, co-Founder of Tech Hive Advisory, said that Lawyers should understand data protection impacts on law practice, and do all they can to uphold confidentiality (attorney/client privilege), as this will create a relationship based on trust that will benefit both parties.

They also spent time focusing on educating Lawyers, on handling client data in the digital age. Lawyers were reminded that, data protection goes beyond traditional confidentiality concerns. Olumide Babalola emphasised protecting documents from unauthorised access, theft, and even destruction. He discussed data minimisation practices, securing client consent for data use, and the importance of following data retention regulations established by the Nigerian Data Protection Commission (NDPC).

Mr Babalola also spoke on the need for Lawyers to promote data minimisation, seek consent when required, understand data retention periods, include data protection considerations in letters of engagement, and demonstrate compliance with the Nigerian data protection laws (accountability), while Mr Oloyede reminded Lawyers of the need to be careful handling data due to the constant attack of sites owned by law firms.

“Law firms and other legal service providers that hold sensitive and confidential data, have increasingly faced cyber security attacks involving their clients’ data and their own business information.”

Oloyede stressed the need for meticulous data handling, proper record-keeping, and encryption for sensitive documents. He also addressed concerns related to international data transfer and the legal implications of poor privacy practices, while urging law firms to constantly update their sites for the security and protection of the data in their possession, be it data belonging to their clients or staff.

The session featured interactive discussions on practical data protection measures. Participants learned about secure data disposal, CCTV usage with proper notification, and proactive breach prevention strategies. The importance of software updates, CCTV legalities, and potential legal actions for data breaches were also addressed. The webinar concluded with plans for future sessions, focusing on AI and IT policies with robust privacy provisions.

The webinar received positive feedback from attendees, with many praising the speakers for delivering an insightful and informative session. Lawyers expressed appreciation for the opportunity to learn more about their responsibilities under the NDPA, and gain practical guidance on data protection practices.

The NBA-SLP’s commitment to Lawyer education on data protection, demonstrates a positive step towards a more secure legal environment in Nigeria. The high participation rate and attendee feedback, suggest a strong interest among Lawyers in staying up-to-date on data protection regulations and best practices.

The session kicked off with opening remarks from Fernandez Marcus-Obiene, Chair of the Committee, and Boma Alabi, OON, SAN, Chair of the NBA-SLP. With a total of 1,945 registrants, the session attracted a significant audience, with 746 participants joining at various times, eager to learn more about data protection in the legal field.

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