Posted by: johnocunningham | February 20, 2015

Attorney-Client Communications: How Protected Are They?

Most clients believe that their lawyers of choice are trustworthy, and that they will not divulge secrets or confidences to anyone.

But recently, surveys have shown that some corporate clients are concerned with whether their outside lawyers are taking all the necessary steps to secure client information from cyber-thieves and hackers.

Now, a survey by Marsh USA (formerly known as Marsh & McLennan) reveals that many law firms may indeed be “at risk,” given the responses provided by law firms around the country.

Among other things, the survey showed that:

  • 72% of respondents said their firm has not assessed and scaled the cost of a data breach based on the information it retains; and
  • 51% said that their law firms either have not taken measures to insure their cyber risk (41%) or do not know (10%) if their firm has taken measures.

Furthermore, according to Marsh, research from cybersecurity firm Mandiant showed that 80% of the largest 100 law firms had been hacked as of three years ago.

It is pretty clear that lawyers take their ethical oaths and client confidences seriously, but it is not equally clear that they have seriously examined, much less taken all necessary steps to safeguard those confidences and secrets from cyber-threats.

Those firms that do invest in state-of-the-art security and obtain reputable security certifications (such as SSAE 16 examinations, and SOC 1, 2 and 3 reports) should communicate that forward-looking step to clients, publicizing the level of care they have taken to insure that client communications are truly privileged and confidential in every way.


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