IT REQUIREMENTS FOR THE LEGAL INDUSTRY

Reliable and secure IT

Few industries are required to hold data in as strict of confidence as the legal industries. As an attorney or legal administrator, you’re privy to all types of sensitive, privileged information about their clients, ranging from intellectual property and business data, to financial details and confidential reports. 

It’s important that your firm keeps this data secure and complies with security standards and laws that regulate data security in your industry. Hiring a managed service provider (MSP) that understands IT in the legal industry is often the best way to ensure that the data of your firm and its clients is safeguarded, and in compliance with the laws in your industry.

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Common Security Threats

Data security threats are a very real problem for law firms. This is particularly true for small to medium-sized law firms that are unable to afford extensive cybersecurity teams and strategies. According to an article published by Infosecurity Magazine, nearly one-fifth of law firms in the U.S. showed signs of vulnerability to cyber-attacks, while the American Bar Association indicates that in 2018, 42 percent of firms with up to 100 employees experienced a data breach.

Regardless of your legal specialty, your day-to-day activities can easily put your firm’s secure data at risk. Everything from checking your email to visiting your social media pages on a work device increases the risk of exposing sensitive information that could be used to breach your private data. 

Hackers have a variety of motives for stealing private information from law firms. This can include espionage, such as stealing trade secrets and intellectual property or obtaining attorney-client-privileged data, leaking sensitive data for political reasons, holding your data for ransom, or simply sabotaging your practice.

There are several ways hackers can breach your data. While phishing schemes and compromised email accounts are the most common, ransomware attacks and third-party hacking both pose considerable threats to law firms. 

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Unfortunately, in most cases, data breaches occur due to a lack of cybersecurity or insider threats—that is, an employee either intentionally, or unintentionally exposing privileged information. These threats can lead to a variety of consequences that range in severity including:

Regulations to Follow When Managing IT in the Legal Industry

Exact legal requirements for data security can vary depending on your legal specialty and your location. In most states, regional laws for storing private data exist, and throughout the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission governs the way businesses store secure consumer data across all industries. In addition to these state and federal laws, law firms are also required to adhere to guidelines set forth by agencies such as the American Bar Association and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

 

As mentioned above, your specialty may also require you to adhere to additional regulations that are specific to the industries of the clients you serve. For example, if you store healthcare information you’re subject to the guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while the storage of financial data, such as accounting or investing information, requires your compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Finding the Right MSP for Your Legal Practice

Protecting your legal practice is vital and one of the most important things you can do is ensure you have the right systems and strategies in place to protect confidential data. The right MSP can provide IT services that include cybersecurity strategies, comprehensive network assessments, and round-the-clock monitoring and support to make sure that your firm’s private files are safe from hackers and other potential security threats.

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