Cybersecurity: An Ethical Duty for Lawyers - Huntersure

Cybersecurity: An Ethical Duty for Lawyers

Posted on: April 15, 2021 by Huntersure LLC.

In a myriad of ways, technology has enabled lawyers to serve clients more effectively. That same high tech has empowered cybercriminals to poach the confidential information that attorneys are committed to protecting. Practicing law is now a juggling act: serving clients, staying one step ahead of cybercriminals and keeping faith with professional ethics. As an insurance agent providing lawyer professional liability coverage, it’s now essential for  lawyers to understand their ethical duty, law firm vulnerabilities, and cybersecurity.

Law Firms’ Tougher Ethical Standards

In an October 2018 formal opinion, the American Bar Association recognized an obligation to inform clients in the event of a data breach. The ABA states that lawyers must disclose enough information for clients to decide on continued representation or new counsel.

The opinion also spelled out these duties:

  • Duty of Competence:Attorneys now are ethically bound to stay abreast of current technologies and employ these developments to protect their clients’ interests.
  • Duty to Supervise Lawyers and Staff: To safeguard client information, managing attorneys must set up cybersecurity policies and ensure that all staff members follow through.
  • Duty of Confidentiality: The centuries-old promise to protect client information now explicitly includes risk assessments, cybersecurity testing and continuous upgrades.

In living up to more rigorous ethical standards, attorneys will need to confront their firms’ cybersecurity shortcomings.

Law Firms’ Cyber Vulnerabilities

In its 2020 report on legal technology and ethics, the ABA reported survey results of member firms:

  • Cyber Liability Insurance: Only 40% of small and medium firms carry this coverage.
  • Encryption: Just 43% of surveyed firms use this security procedure for files.
  • Remote Device Wiping: One-quarter of firms implement this measure for lost or stolen mobile devices.
  • Intrusion Detection: Fewer than one-third of law firms have implemented this service.
  • Web Filtering: 26% of firms employ these anti-phishing applications.

According to the survey, 29% of law firms suffered data breaches in 2020. One-third of the breached firms lost billable hours, and one-quarter lost access to their networks. With no sign of cyber threats receding, your law firm clients will need to focus on security efforts.

Law Firm Cybersecurity Measures

In tackling cyber vulnerabilities, your medium-sized clients may be able to take advantage of the growing number of security operations center providers. SOC-as-a-service contractors can take on threat detection and response duties instead of over-burdening the firms’ in-house IT staff. Your clients with smaller budgets will need to use the ABA recommendations as a starting point and implement improvements as time and resources allow. With all of your clients, point out that tightening security on mobile devices is a quick and inexpensive way to bolster their cybersecurity.As you craft lawyer professional liability coverage for your law firm clients, keep in mind the technology minefield modern-day attorneys must traverse. Tailored insurance paired with actionable risk reduction advice is the formula for winning new clients to your agency.

About Huntersure

Huntersure LLC is a full-service Managing General Agency that has provided insurance program administration for professional liability products to our partners across the United States since 2007. We specialize in providing insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our program features can cover small firms (grossing $2.5 million annually) to large corporations (grossing $25 million annually or more). We make doing business with us easy with our breadth and depth of knowledge of E&O insurance, our proprietary underwriting system that allows for responsive quoting, binding and policy issuance and tailored products to meet the needs of your insureds. Give us a call at (855) 585-6255 to learn more.

Social Title: Why Lawyers Need Cybersecurity Savvy to Uphold Their Ethical Duty

Social Description: The American Bar Association says cybersecurity is an ethical duty for lawyers. Read about law firms’ vulnerability to cybercrime and steps to combat hackers.

Posted in: Lawyer's professional liability insurance