Samantha Lofton Moss – Ice Miller LLP
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Andrew Wright & Peter Holt
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
The day has yet to arrive when yellow pads become artifacts of the legal profession, but it may be closer than you think.
In fact, Samantha Lofton Moss, of the firm Ice Miller LLP, says there are attorneys at the firm who’d sooner tap into online resources than unearth hard-bound volumes in legal libraries.
As Ice Miller’s Chief Risk, Information Governance and Legal Project Management Officer, Moss welcomes the firm’s shift to digital tools, but makes sure it’s all done securely and in compliance with a plethora of statutes, regulations and outside counsel guidelines that can vary with the practice areas.
“We’ve gone from some people primarily being paper based to being completely electronic and being able to work remotely and service clients for the most part electronically,” she says. “I’m always looking for ways to optimize technology, internal resources and strategic collaborations.”
Ice Miller LLP was founded in 1910 and went through several name changes as it grew. The firm now has seven offices and 340 legal professionals serving clients in more than 20 practice areas, including bankruptcy and restructuring, government contracts and grants, intellectual property, real estate, taxes, and white-collar defense and investigations.
As part of her job, Moss needs to be familiar with information research and management, new business intake, docketing and electronic discovery—basically, ensuring information and data are managed and safely accessible to attorneys and clients.
“It’s toeing the line between access, collaboration and security,” Moss explains. “The aim is to provide the answers and information practice groups need and to ensure data is accessible in compliance with regulations and client requirements.”
One platform, many uses
In March 2021, the firm launched a new document management system using cloud-based software made by NetDocuments. The project started in 2019 but was put on hold during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The challenge was that different practice groups have different needs—a real estate transactional practice does not have the same requirements as litigation or labor law, Moss notes, so she needed allowances for each of them.
Now, NetDocuments allows Moss to control access to documents and records based on regulations faced by each practice group. It also automatically updates; and because it’s cloud-based, Ice Miller attorneys and staff can use the systems anytime from home or office.
“The nirvana of it is there’s one pane of glass for viewing the electronic client matter file,” Moss says.
Plus, attorneys can create a “binder” of documents that’s bookmarked and easily shared with clients. The second phase of the launch—evaluating databases and repositories to use in the platform—is ongoing. Moss expects that to be completed by the end of the year. The full cloud migration may not occur until early 2022.
“We’ll be able to collapse multiple repositories into one and make searching and retrieval much easier,” Moss says.
Since joining Ice Miller in 2012, Moss has also implemented a document management system, as well as a system to improve processes in financial management, docketing, business intake and conflicts. Currently, she’s revieing collaboration tools and will soon lead an initiative focused on legal operations, pricing and profitability.
Protection a passion
Moss was on her way to a legal career and pursuing a political science degree at the University of Kentucky when she got a job at ClinTrials Research Inc. in 1993. She says the career-changing opportunity allowed her to manage clinical trial data and handle audits by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
She enjoyed the work so much she changed majors and earned her bachelor’s degree in management, decision science and information systems, while also becoming the company’s lead records management technician while in her early 20s.
“I used to wear my hair up in a bun and glasses so people wouldn’t hold my age against me,” she recalls with a laugh.
Moss joined Greenebaum Doll & McDonald PLLC in 1997 as its records information and compliance manager. There she developed a records and information management program and oversaw compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and HITECH Act regulations and became the firm’s compliance officer.
In 2010, Moss was recruited to join Ice Miller as its director of records information, risk management and practice support. In 2015, she was promoted to her current position.
Outside work, she served on the board of ARMA International, a peer organization for managers of information assets, from 2009-2012. More recently, she’s been a contributor to the Law Firm Information Governance Symposium, a group of senior law firm peers who write how-to reports and develop guidelines on information governance.
Moss also loves to chase sunsets with her husband Christopher in their vintage Cadillac DeVille convertible, and she says that the sunset on a paper-based industry will have its benefits.
“In the digital age, it doesn’t matter where you are anymore to have a great highly functioning team,” Moss says. “Change is always difficult, but we’ve had disruptive technology and events that have propelled us forward.”
View this feature in the Fall I 2021 Edition here.
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