Firms Must Not Shirk Hacking Precautions

National Law Journal

PUBLISHED ON: April 6, 2015

In the 1987 film "Wall Street," Charlie Sheen's character is impelled by the "greed is good" ethos gleaned from his mentor to sneak into a corporate law firm to steal mergers-and-acquisitions files with a sleek spy camera — cutting-edge technology in the 1980s. Technology has changed since then, but the sensitivity of such files has not. Technology now permits that type of theft from a world away and the ability to steal more files in far less time.

Law firms are no exception to today's pervasive data breaches, and, in fact, may have even more at risk than most businesses because they possess information that is, in many ways, distinct from the typical categories of data tempting hackers. Law firm data include secrets, and this reality makes lawyers targets. For instance, firms possess proprietary information that may provide for their competitive advantage. They will have compensation figures, and they often have human resources and employee data that can be quite sensitive. And then there is the highly restricted information that law firms receive and generate in the everyday course of their client representations. Examples include patent drafts, prepublic disclosure mergers and acquisitions ¬transaction documents, estate planning and administration documents and forensic litigation damages analyses.

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