Risk Update

Risk Odds, Ends & Ethics — Reputation Risk, Cloud Security, Judicial Cleverness

How Law Firms Can Win the Talent War with Public Relations” —

  • “After a year of cutbacks and financial restraint in 2020, law firms have emerged from the pandemic in a mood to hire top talent and pay handsomely for it. The legal trades are abuzz nearly every day with news about associate salaries and bonuses, with each firm trying to outdo the competition as they fight over promising lawyers.”
  • “Today’s legal job market is increasingly candidate-driven, with laterals holding more bargaining power and choice. And they are doing their research… This phenomenon is even more dramatic given how the internet has changed our information expectations… there’s now a heightened expectation that did not exist a few decades ago for firms to publicly tell their stories. Candidates now expect to find a wealth of information at their fingertips, from what it’s like to work at the firm to its culture, values, work, clients and expertise.”
  • “Before taking on controversial clients, in addition to the usual conflict checks and other reviews, firms should now carefully assess the impact to their reputation when considering a problematic prospect. If they proceed with the representation, they should develop a messaging plan for both internal and external audiences.”
  • “While law firms have long prided themselves on their ability — and some would argue their duty — to represent unpopular and controversial clients, the tides are changing. Law firms must now consider how these sorts of clients and matters will impact their reputations, especially among the more socially conscious younger generations.”

Lucian Pera notes: “Our Ethical Duty to Read the News” —

  • “As lawyers, we have an ethical obligation to keep up with news of the latest cybersecurity disasters. And then we should ask our personal tech guru what those disasters mean for us.”
  • “Sure, you say, but where do the rules say a lawyer is going to get disciplined for not reading The New York Times for the latest on big hacks?”
  • “OK, so maybe I overstated a bit. But you’re still reading. And my point is simple, if not as threatening: By reading the headlines about notable hacks and cybersecurity threads, plus just a wee bit more, you can be safe and more knowledgeable about the risks to you and your clients.”
  • “The next time you read a story of a big tech security disaster, consider asking your tech guru two questions about it: First, am I safe from this particular danger? Second, is there anything I can learn from it?”
  • “The world learned in early March 2021 that the bad guys apparently found several vulnerabilities in Exchange server software. That software powers every Microsoft email system, other than those run on its online service, Microsoft 365.”
  • “Those who own their servers had to patch them instantly and then check and security them. Subscribers to Microsoft 365 had outsourced their security and could, quite reasonably, expect that Microsoft would patch its own servers and protect all its users…”
  • “I read this as a testimonial to the likely greater security of (carefully) outsourced IT security and, more generally, the cloud.”

From the “glad this doesn’t apply to risk bloggers (#twocrows)” department, comes this article which caught my eye: “‘Be a Lot Cooler if You Didn’t’: Why Judges Should Refrain from Pop Culture References in Judicial Opinions” —

  • “The use of pop culture references in judicial opinions—sometimes referred to as “dropping pop”—is unfortunately a growing trend. This Article presents the 2021 Briseño v. Henderson opinion as an illustration of the harms of unnecessary pop culture references.”
  • “It provides a thorough analysis of the numerous ways in which pop culture references in judicial opinions are ill advised. It also addresses the arguments in favor of the practice, providing counterarguments to show why any purported benefits are exaggerated and far outweighed by the downsides. Then advice for judges, including best practices, is given. The Article concludes by providing suggested language for the Model Code of Judicial Conduct regarding pop culture references.”