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Taking Your Legal Career to Cyberspace and Beyond

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 31, 2017 6:58 AM

Evolution does not always occur through survival of the fittest; sometimes it just occurs through the right fit.

For Adam Cohen, it may have been a combination of the two. He was a BigLaw partner, but he had a passion for technology. In time, he evolved from legal advocate to white hat hacker.

"With technology and business these days, everything changes so rapidly that you constantly have to be learning new things," he told the ABA Journal about his change from law partner to managing director of an expert consulting firm.

Cohen is one of a breed of lawyers who are evolving with technology, gaining knowledge in new fields and emerging in new professions. Here are a few:

Ethical Hacker

An ethical hacker, like Cohen, tests client systems to help prevent cyberattacks, which is also known as penetration testing.

"Basically, an ethical hacker is someone who tests systems, as opposed to an unethical hacker who is doing it for gain, hacktivism, or some other reason," he said.

Cohen, working as a lawyer, got certified as a white hat hacker because he wanted a deeper understanding of how to advise clients. He said the test for Certified Information Systems Security Professionals is like the bar exam for security technology professionals.

Cyber Security Officer

Shelly Westman made the transition from law to cyber security early in her career. In an article in Forbes, she said she liked the law but not law practice.

"When I realized this wasn't for me, I was fortunate to get hired into the contract group at IBM," she said.

She started in supply chain management, then ran hardware strategy, and eventually made her way to cybersecurity. She had the education to review contracts and for critical analysis, but she got a lot of tech training on the job.

Lawyer/Coder/Founder

Ultimately, evolution produces new species. Legal technology is like that, especially as technology pushes law to adapt.

Attorneys have started many tech companies, especially in the information services field. Lawyer/coder Bryant Lee, for example, created a program that helps users look up a lawyer's win record.

"Choosing counsel is one of the most important decisions a person can make in their legal case," Lee said in a press release for the Justice Toolbox. "People should have the benefit of seeing an attorney's public court records before making that decision."

For emerging lawyer-entrepreneurs, Stanford Law School has a program that acts as an incubator for law students. It has given birth to several companies, including Ravel and Judicata.

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