Risk Update

More on Covid-19 — Managing Information Risk and Professional Obligations

How Law Firms Can Harden Their Data Security During COVID-19 Crisis” —

  • “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced law firms into a new work paradigm, switching overnight to a remote workforce. Law firms, already an attractive target for cybercriminals, now face a workforce operating from informal home environments. As a result, law firms must address data security risks as they balance making data available for remote access.”
  • “Sheryl A. Falk, a co-leader of Winston & Strawn’s global privacy and data security task force, answers some of the questions surrounding how a remote workforce can still protect client information. Her answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.”
  • “Law firms should consider and adapt to new data security challenges presented by remote work. Ensure that all connections to the law firm’s information systems are made via a secure connection through a VPN or virtual desktop, with appropriate access controls in place, such as two-factor authentication… Restrict employee access to data needed to do their specific job functions…”
  • “Law firms should arm employees with information to keep data safe. Redistribute any firm data security policies, such as bring your own device policy or written information security program. Counsel employees on remote working best practices.”
  • “Firms should stay alert for potential unauthorized access, including monitoring logs and external connections to the network systems to detect an unauthorized third party from penetrating the law firm’s network. Firms should also ready their response to an incident by quickly reviewing their data security response plan and cyberinsurance.”

What Law Firms Should Know About COVID-19” —

  • “According to a recent private survey about COVID-19, 74% of law firm respondents expect that there will be a modest to severe impact on legal services demand over the next two quarters. In addition to the issues facing all businesses during this time, law firms also face unique risks as a result of the spread of COVID-19.”
  • “Law firms face risks based on their role as employers and also based on the duties owed to clients… The onset of COVID-19 does not mean that law firms’ duties to clients go away or that lawyers can treat this period as a “vacation” from their obligations. But, changes from courts and other entities have created uncertainty among practitioners. There will inevitably be some confusion and perhaps even some gridlock once courts reopen and deadlines begin to apply again. Law firms and lawyers can use this time to advise clients of the status of their cases and matters in light of the shutdown and advise on the recommended next steps.”
  • “Law firms may also consider educating their work force about the importance of maintaining client confidentiality while working remotely. This may include reminding attorneys and staff that client confidential matters must remain discrete, even within the home, and that attorneys and staff have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of client matters wherever they are.”