I’d guess that before this weekend, Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence hadn’t ever seriously thought about the impact of a data breach. They’re not alone! It was announced this morning by many sources that there appears to be a credit card breach at Home Depot bigger than Target. Last week 4.5mm healthcare records were compromised in a breach of one of our largest healthcare systems and locally in Kansas City, Children’s Mercy Hospital lost 4,500 employee records. Each day, a few more people are starting to take this risk seriously but we still have a long way to go.
What is your law firm doing to protect your individual attorneys and the firm from this exposure? In addition to the breaches mentioned above, Goodwill Stores announced yesterday that they suffered a breach due to the failure of a third party vendor. Do you know what vendors have access to your data? If they’re responsible for a data breach, will they cover the costs of the breach or are you stuck with that?
These are all questions you should address and also understand if and how your legal malpractice policy will respond to a data breach. If it does provide protection, it will be incredibly limited and you may need to explore a cyber liability insurance policy to supplement your legal malpractice coverage.
There are many pitfalls lawyers should avoid while traveling that will help to protect your law firm’s sensitive data. In an article in the security current, they discussed a trend of hackers targeting hotel business centers. Members of a criminal gang were recently arrested in the Dallas Ft. Worth area for installing keylogger malware on computers in hotel business centers. In addition to this risk, it’s very easy for lawyers and other professional service providers to have their data compromised when using public wifi networks in hotels, airports, or coffee shops. In addition to the hassle of dealing with a loss of sensitive information, your law firm could be subject to regulatory fines and penalties or could be subject to a legal malpractice claim from one of your clients.
Some of the things you can do to protect your law firm’s information while traveling are:
- Make sure your lawyers cell phones have mobile hotspots enabled. These networks are much more secure than public wifi networks.
- Make sure your e-mail and file sharing systems are secure and encrypted.
- Educated your lawyers on the alternatives to using public wifi and the impact a breach can have on your firm.
- Maintain a comprehensive breach response strategy in the event data is compromised and understand how your legal malpractice policy will respond if at all.
According to a recent Law360 article, weak engagement letters are to blame for a flurry of recent legal malpractice claims. The article, which you can read here, discusses the use of engagement letters in recent legal malpractice claims and says in 65% of the cases, an engagement letter wasn’t used. It goes on to say that in only 5% of the cases, there was a well drafted engagement letter that limits the law firms liability.
While there are many things we recommend law firms to do craft strong engagement letters, here are three tips:
- Do not provide any guarantees
- Be very clear with the client about the project you were hired for
- If the client is new to the firm, get a retainer and make sure it is substantial