Law firms face constant threats in cyberspace. They hold a treasure trove of sensitive data that’s attractive to everyone from homegrown hackers to hostile nation-state actors, and according to the American Bar Association 2017 Legal Technology Survey, 22 percent of law firms experienced a cyberattack in 2017 (up from 14 percent in 2016). Following a breach the global average “dwell time” for an intruder to remain inside an organization is 191 days. The most infamous law firm hack to date was the breach of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which ultimately led to the firm’s closure.
Join ALTA in San Francisco for the First Australian Legal Tech Demo Day
Companies planning for their 2019 legal technology should think outside the box – and outside the Northern Hemisphere. There has been a boom in legal innovation in Australia in the past decade, culminating with the 2017 birth of the Australian Legal Technology Association (ALTA).
Ransomware has become the premier weapon of choice for cybercriminals to launch cyber attacks, cause disruption and generate significant revenue. While some argue that ransomware attacks are slowing down, the data shows otherwise. A recent report by SonicWall shows that nearly 100,000 ransomware attacks are happening per day in 2018. This is a whopping 25 times higher than the previous number of 4,000 attacks per day that was reported by the FBI in 2016.
When organizations invest in technology, they expect something in return. Common expectations in the legal industry include improving service delivery, making work processes more efficient and boosting staff productivity. Mitigating risk and creating a competitive advantage also top the list of anticipated outcomes.
While most firms and in-house legal departments have a good “feel” for if a technology they’ve implemented is providing benefits, few know exactly how much a particular solution saves them in actual time and money. Or better yet, whether that technology helps them grow revenue or make better bottom-line decisions.
To clear the air from the start, the legal industry is not always best known for its early adoption or widespread deployment of information technology. The sector prefers traditional processes and practices and relies on a lot of paper-based operations such as journals, books and handwritten letters. So, compared to some other sectors, the leap towards digitisation is even bigger.
In early June, I shared some thoughts about the challenges with the current IP prosecution process and how we need to move to the next level. A number of readers reached out to me and pointed out that I had articulated the business problems well, but they were left wanting more solutions.
That’s a fair criticism, and many of you who know me would expect me to say, ‘that depends.’
The friction-less IP prosecution process
Did you know that America’s IP is worth roughly $5.8 trillion dollars, more than the GDP of many countries? With that value comes a lot of risk associated with protecting these ideas and intellectual property. Dedicated IP firms and specialist IP practices within certain firms are increasingly looking to streamline processes and leverage technology to better manage and execute their clients patent and trademark applications, all of which involve working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Here are some more statistics …
iManage, a document and email management provider, hosted its user conference in Brooklyn, New York, from May 3-4. More than 750 attendees, including CIOs, IT directors, application managers, and developers, registered to attend 40-plus educational sessions and three keynote presentations and review 24 partner exhibits, all conducted in the New York Marriot at the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s not surprising that the legal sector represents a goldmine for hackers; it is a vital component of UK business and government infrastructure. Law firms don’t just handle highly sensitive IP, business critical and financial data for clients but also personally identifiable information (PII), making them a highly attractive target.
The Legal industry has reached a crossroads. Changes in the economy, client demands and technology are driving some of this change and the ability for firms to adapt to these changes may determine their survival. Clients are demanding lower costs, efficiency, increased security along with greater accountability.
In my own experience, I have seen some of these changes occurring gradually among our customers. Having worked in law firms for 25 years, I can remember the days when very few lawyers actually had computers.
A new survey of nearly 1,300 Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) in 48 countries, conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), found that data breaches and the protection of corporate data is the fastest-growing area of concern among CLOs. Thirty-six percent of CLOs rated this issue as “extremely important” in the year ahead, compared with just 19 percent as recently as 2014.
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