Data security and privacy: More than one-quarter (22 percent) of attorneys surveyed by Robert Half Legal said these issues will have the biggest impact on the practice of law during the next five years, according to the annual Future Law Office research series. That prediction is not surprising when you consider the number of high-profile data breaches in both the public and private sector in recent years that have affected millions of people around the world.
Protecting sensitive information -- whether that data is customer credit card information, patient healthcare records or intellectual property -- is a top priority for any modern business operation, including law firms. Not being diligent about data security or realistic about the hacking threat is simply too risky. Compliance violations, financial loss, brand damage and lawsuits are just a few of the potential repercussions of a data breach.
Data security challenges
Clients are, of course, looking to their legal counsel for guidance on data security and privacy matters. And while Future Law Office research shows that clients want 24/7 access to information pertaining to their cases and matters, they are also demanding that their partnering legal organizations adopt more stringent data security measures. They want law firms to answer critical questions such as:
- Where do you keep client information?
- Who has access to it?
- In the event of a data security breach, what procedures will your organization follow?
New technologies and modes of working, the use of mobile devices, the cloud, and social media are also making it more difficult for legal organizations to maintain data security and ensure the integrity of confidential, privileged information. Complex and evolving data security and privacy laws at the state, federal and international levels add to the challenge.
Data security is also a top priority in eDiscovery. The Joint Working Group on Electronic Technology in the Criminal Justice System (JETWG), in its guidance on electronically stored information (ESI) discovery production in federal criminal cases, notes that it is easy to reproduce and disseminate information that is created and stored electronically. JETWG recommends that parties involved in eDiscovery matters take care to prevent unauthorized access, disclosure or distribution of ESI.
Looking to experts to find experts
All of the above pressures are creating high demand in the legal field for attorneys with data security and privacy expertise. According to the recent Future Law Office report Technology's Transformation of the Legal Field, many law firms are also looking to hire IT professionals who have a strong background in security and the ability to collaborate with attorneys on eDiscovery matters and investigations.
However, finding data security specialists can be a challenge for law firms and companies alike. More than half (55 percent) of attorneys say they have trouble finding skilled legal professionals, according to a Robert Half Legal survey conducted for the Future Law Office report Client Dynamics Driving Change in the Legal Profession.
One approach leading employers use to locate attorneys with data security experience is to work with a specialized legal staffing firm. Robert Half Legal, for example, can help your law firm or company find attorneys with data security skills and knowledge for temporary and contract positions, as well as full-time roles. Robert Half Legal also can provide legal project consulting teams with expertise in data security and privacy, as well as professionals within other in-demand practice areas.