Why Cybersecurity Standards are so Important for Attorneys & Legal Staff

July 10, 2019

Legal services are centered on data and knowledge.  An attorney-client relationship is the foundation that underlies the rendering of legal services.  If attorneys do not protect their clients’ data, it is only a matter of time until those clients flee to the competition.  If your law firm has not yet implemented the appropriate cybersecurity standards, it is time to add them now.


Every Attorney Should be Aware of These Threats


An array of articles have detailed the extent to which attorneys are being targeted for cyber attacks.  After all, law firms have some of the most valuable data on the planet.  Between trade secrets, healthcare data, information that moves the market and beyond, law firms have a bevy of incredibly important data.  Sadly, cyber criminals are looking for every opportunity possible to make money from highly sensitive data.  Law firm partners should take the appropriate steps toward enhancing cybersecurity.  Such a risk assessment should adhere to the standards set by the top cybersecurity authorities.


An Explanation of NIST


The National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST for short, sets the guidelines and standards for digital security.  In fact, the United States government relies on NIST standards for cybersecurity.  NIST standards should be thought of as the best practices for digital security that can be implemented in a truly practical manner.  NIST standards are updated with regularity to ensure cybersecurity standards remain current.  The NIST SP 800 documents explain cyber-threat prevention practices down to the very last detail.  Though such standards are not required by law, every business owner including law firm partners can benefit from implementing them.


In short, NIST pinpoints systems that have highly sensitive data, separates sensitive data from data that cannot be used against the organization, limits access to sensitive data to authorized employees, encrypts data and calls for the regular monitoring of sensitive information.  Furthermore, all employees should be trained on the best practices in cybersecurity.  The final layer of security is to perform an assessment of every system’s vulnerability (or lack thereof) to hackers.  It is in your interest and your clients’ interest to implement NIST standards as soon as possible.


Do not Sacrifice Security for Efficiency


As time progresses, more law firms will implement artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital shortcuts of sorts to reduce time-consuming activities and ramp up efficiency.  However, there is a chance the implementation of tech solutions will diminish data security.  Every single application your law firm implements should comply with the best practices of cybersecurity.  Otherwise, there is the chance for improvements in efficiency to be compromised by a corresponding reduction in security.  Restrict your use of legal apps to those in full compliance with NIST or other widely accepted cybersecurity standards and it will be that much easier to maintain a truly impenetrable digital shield.