Lawyers Spending More on Technology, But Why?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 01, 2019 3:00 PM

Three out or four lawyers say they plan to spend more on technology over the next year. Is that what your firm says?

It is a real question because there is a difference between planning to spend and actually spending money on technology. In recent years, law firms have been reluctant to invest in tech for various reasons. For some, it's just too expensive. Others say if it's not broken, don't fix it. Actually, that's half-a-reason to plan on spending more on tech.

Upgrades and Updates

Tech doesn't die; it just gets obsolete. Companies have to spend money on updates and upgrades. For lawyers, it's practically mandatory.

According to a survey of 200 lawyers, 76 percent of the respondents said their organizations plan to increase spending on cybersecurity over the next 12 months. That's how long it takes for an annual anti-virus update. But lawyers have to do more than that to protect client information. Europe's General Data Protection Regulation and California's Consumer Privacy Protection Act, for example, should be top concerns for many attorneys. The new laws make companies more accountable for protecting consumers' personal information. "Lawyers are collaborating closely with their technology, human resources, marketing and business development colleagues to help ensure their organizations remain compliant and, ultimately, competitive," said Jamy Sullivan, executive director of Robert Haff Legal, which conducted the survey.

Independent Duty to Protect

Of course, law firms have an independent duty to protect data. It's not just an ethical requirement to be technically competent; it's a survival requirement. Cyberattacks are increasing, and lawyers are easy targets. Hackers have taken down large and small firms. Experts say it is inevitable that law firms will be attacked.

Ransomware, phishing, and viruses are the usual suspects. The American Bar Association says lawyers need to be prepared. Ruth Hill Bro, a member of the ABA Cybersecurity Legal Task Force, spoke at a conference telling lawyers it was time to wake up. "Always remember, it can happen to you," she said.

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