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The Importance of Data Security in BigLaw

published September 21, 2020

By Author - LawCrossing
Published By
( 19 votes, average: 3.9 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Data security, in the age of Big Data, has become a hot button issue for big law firms around the country and the globe. A company or corporation may possess personal information of millions of customers, and that data is typically stored in a cloud-based storage system. The company holding the data has an obligation to its customers to keep that data secure, but as we all know, data breaches occur with frightening regularity.
The Importance of Data Security in BigLaw

Data privacy law is still in its infancy in the United States, and there is not much legal precedent or laws that regulate the collection, protection, use, or sale of such information. However, the legal landscape for such matters is changing quickly. So, with little legal precedent for the management of data, why is it a big deal in the arena of big law?

A law firm's obligation to keep clients' information secure

The overwhelming amount of data generated in large firms poses a threat that the security of that data could be compromised. A breach that exposed sensitive information for major clients could create a run for the door panic among other clients and leaves the firm exposed to a serious risk of liability for damages caused by the breach.
Law firms are, by nature, risk-averse, so most major law firms have taken steps to provide added security to their data files. Trust between firms and their clients is a necessity, and the firm's know that reputation is everything.

Data kept by large law firms present a high-value target for hackers, as the sensitive information involved belongs to clients with the means to retain expensive legal counsel. If a breach does occur, attorneys are ethically bound to report the extent of the breach to any clients whose information may have been compromised. The consequences can be disastrous, and can include:
  • Hacked or phished email accounts can compromise communication
  • The inability of a firm to access critical information due to ransomware. This occurs when hackers hold files hostage and demand ransom money, usually in the form of cryptocurrency, to restore access. These types of attacks can essentially disable a firm from conducting business leading to a cascading disaster if not resolved quickly.
  • The loss of clients' trust in the law firm and a tainted reputation.
  • Lawsuits and malpractice allegations.

The risk is real, and according to the ABA, firms must "make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client." Now that rule was written when client information was still stored in massive filing cabinets, and preventing unauthorized access was a matter of physically limiting who could put their hands on such files.

Complying with the obligation now is much more complex and generally includes an exhaustive cybersecurity plan and vetting all technology providers used by the firm. Legal technology, which has exploded in growth in the last decade, can play a vital role in helping firms comply with their obligation to secure data. Most tech providers provide encryption of data and enhanced security infrastructure to protect data stored in the cloud.

The importance of legal technology in managing data

Law firms use AI-driven software to manage the large volumes of data they store. The artificial intelligence helps firms store, search, find, and manage data. Legal software with AI capabilities can perform a range of legal services from contract management to the simple chatbots on their firm's website.

Predictive analytics is another tool many firms are using. These sophisticated algorithms can be used to give an in-depth analysis of recent outcomes in similar cases and can predict the likely outcome of complex litigation. Predictive analytics can even predict US Supreme Court decisions.

AI-enhanced document management software has changed DMS forever, and few firms could imagine going back to the days before AI made their systems smarter and more efficient. Static repositories for information are a thing of the past, and systems with AI capabilities are forging a new future.

Contract management has always been a labor-intensive, necessary evil, for attorneys. Now, document management software can understand the language used in contracts and automatically generate action alerts. DMS with AI serves as a potent risk mitigator in dealing with contracts, and have freed up untold hours of intensive but tedious work.

Document management software now includes workflow management, allowing access to all documents related to the case to anyone with approved access. The traditional office space is changing, and attorneys are now reliant on the capability to work from anywhere. Mobile access capability enables deals to be negotiated, generated, and signed from anywhere.

The complete lifecycle of a case, from the opening forms to the dispensation of the case can be effectively managed with enhanced document management systems. AI-driven software is also capable of allowing firms to mine their own content, giving them access to the wealth of data stored in contracts and case files. The benefits of this type of data mining are numerous, including building new client relationships, marketing, and strategy.

Litigation of cybersecurity issues

Data privacy and cybersecurity are a fast-growing legal field, and large law firms are making sure they are on the front lines of offering litigation capabilities to their clients. Most large firms offer a cybersecurity and data protection team of attorneys who work directly with business clients to help them protect themselves from by mapping high-risk data and implement the necessary safeguards.

Privacy and security laws are evolving at a rapid rate, and helping clients protect themselves from potential exposure is crucial. Most companies and corporations now want an incident response plan in the event of a data breach. Mitigating the risks from cyber intrusions is a significant part of what law firms are taking on for their clients.

Litigation may become necessary when a client is charged with alleged privacy violations, government investigations, and class action suits stemming from data breaches. Firms are expected to be equipped to resolve the matter with state and federal regulatory agencies, or through the court systems. Not only do attorneys who deal in cybersecurity litigation have to keep up with fast-changing laws around privacy and data, but they also need constant education in the field of technology and cyber crimes to understand and help mitigate the risks their clients face.

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published September 21, 2020

By Author - LawCrossing
( 19 votes, average: 3.9 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.