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Why lawyers shouldn't be lazy about cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a hot-button issue, with large-scale hacks over the past few years affecting millions of people. Retail and health care aren't the only industries affected. The legal industry, too, is a growing target.

Hackers are targeting law firms

Law firms are attractive targets because they store a wealth of client information - names, addresses, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and the like. Depending on the area of practice, some firms house even more valuable information, such as business performance data that could be used to influence stock-buying decisions. For this reason, large firms are most at-risk.

But small firms are also bullseyes for hackers - especially since many small offices and solo practices don't have sophisticated cybersecurity measures in place. The legal industry is notoriously slow to embrace new technologies, and smaller firms in particular may not have the resources or know-how to implement effective safeguards.

Nonetheless, every attorney has a legal and ethical obligation to protect confidential client information. And that means warding off cyberattacks.

A potential source of malpractice?

Failing to protect confidential client information is certainly an ethical breach. But is it grounds for malpractice, too?

As one article points out, it can be difficult to prove damages in these cases, given the shadowy nature of cyberattacks and their perpetrators. Still, as another article reports, there have been claims - and even class-action lawsuits - arising from this important issue. What's more, lawyers who don't take cybersecurity seriously might be negligent in other areas of practice, too.

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