St. Denis & Davey, P.A.

Legal Malpractice Issues

Law firms have a responsibility for data security

| Jan 27, 2020 | Legal Malpractice Law |

Like other industries, many law firms in Florida have digitized their records. Digital records are faster, easier and often more comprehensive. However, when firms do not take good care of their data security, clients could be at risk of the exposure of highly personal information in case of a hack or a breach. Lawyers have significant ethical obligations to protect the confidentiality of their clients, and data breaches could pose a serious risk to clients’ well-being. Not only may clients’ embarrassing or personal information be revealed, but sensitive business documents about mergers, finances and other records could have a long-lasting financial impact on affected clients in case of a breach.

By their very nature, law firms have access to large amounts of sensitive data. Clients provide their attorneys with detailed information in the confidential context of legal representation whether they are discussing the personal background of a divorce or negotiating an upcoming merger or acquisition. As a result, hackers and other bad actors know that law firms could be a valuable target for a successful breach. Some law firms do not keep up with their data security; small firms may not invest much into their cybersecurity budget or develop a plan of action to respond to a breach.

As a result, clients can face serious problems. They may be victims of identity theft or fraud, or long-awaited business deals may fall apart. Adversaries may gain access to information that substantially harms a client’s position in a negotiation.

When a client faces losses as a result of a data breach, they may have a claim against the law firm involved, particularly if the lawyers failed to maintain reasonable data security or act quickly after a breach. Clients affected by a data breach may consult with a legal malpractice attorney about the potential to seek compensation.