Open source information could change how legal firms operate

These days we all have access to an increasingly vast superabundance of valuable information, including media content, social media interactions, subscription feeds, corporate records, government re-ports, research articles and the open internet.

Tim Rees, Client Engagement & Information Security - Blackdot Solutions

Known as open source information (or intelligence), it’s defined, according to Mark Lowenthal1, by the fact that “It does not require any type of clandestine collection techniques to obtain it."

In other words, it’s freely available.


This information has always been with us, but what’s changed is a) the volume of it in this new age of internet and social media engagement and b) the new generation of software investigation platforms that can provide systematic access to it.

Tim Rees is Client Engagement and Information Security Manager at Blackdot Solutions, who provide this type of investigation software. As he explains, “Law firms are increasingly aware of the need to mitigate risk in a way that goes beyond ad-hoc checks on Google. And that’s where open source can add value – not just the increasing volume of it, but also its relevance, its importance and the ability to exploit it effectively.”

However, this is not just an issue of risk.

Whether you’re considering a marketing initiative, a security strategy or an operational decision, the better information you have, the better decisions you’ll make. This could lead to more effective due diligence, including AML2 and KYC3 background checks. And, as well as controlling costs, you get to control the data, which is increasingly important with the imminent introduction of GDPR4.

The benefit for legal firms is clear.

As Tim Rees explains, “By supplementing internal data sets with this enormously rich and growing resource, you could enormously enrich the data you have available to work with. So, as well as controlling risk and supporting your clients, you would also create a nice differentiator between you and your competitors.”

1. George, edited by Roger Z; Kline, Robert D; Lownethal, Mark M (2005). Intelligence and the national security strategist : enduring issues and challenges. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 9780742540392.
2. Anti money laundering
3. Know your client
4. General Data Protection Regulation