Compliance in the Legal Sector: Laws & How to Comply
Thanks to the digital transformation and increasingly strict data security obligations, law firms’ business priorities are changing. Today, data protection, transparency, and privacy are top-of-mind.
It makes sense.
Keep reading to find out…
- Why the legal sector is bound to such strict compliance standards
- Which regulations govern law firms
- How cybersecurity can help ensure compliance
Interested in learning more about regional compliance standards or those that impact other industries? Check out our Compliance Hub to find articles, tips, guides, and more or download our CEO’s Guide to Data Protection and Compliance to learn more about how cybersecurity enables business and drives revenue.
Why is the legal sector bound to strict compliance standards?
Lawyers’ hard drives, email accounts, and smartphones can contain anything from sensitive intellectual property and trade secrets to the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of clients.
Unfortunately, hackers and cybercriminals are all too aware of this. It’s no surprise, then, that the legal sector is amongst the most targeted by social engineering attacks like spear phishing. Ransomware is a big problem, too. In fact, just a few months ago, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, a prominent media law firm, had its client information compromised.
Those behind the attack later threatened to auction some of these files concerning major celebrities for as much as $1.5 million unless the firm paid a $42 million ransom.
But, it’s not just inbound attacks that law firms have to worry about. Because the legal sector is highly competitive, incidents involving Insider Threats are a concern, too.
The regulations governing law firms
When it comes to data protection and privacy, the legal sector is subject to a relatively strict regulatory framework both under the law and rules imposed by professional bodies. Depending on where a firm is based and what its practice areas are, it can be subject to several stringent laws and regulations. This is especially true for firms operating in major markets like the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
In this article, we’ll focus on some of the more general regulations and standards that all firms operating in these markets are expected to abide by.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
When the GDPR was introduced in 2018, it represented the largest change to data protection legislation in almost two decades. It also contains some of the most thorough compliance obligations for law firms and indeed any other entity that collects, stores, and processes data.
The GDPR has been designed to help and guide organizations with a legitimate business interest as to how personal data should be handled and gives regulators the power to impose large fines on firms that aren’t compliant.
You can read more about the largest GDPR fines (so far) in 2020 on our blog.
What is the GDPR’s purpose?
The GDPR was introduced amid growing concerns surrounding the safety of personal data and the need to protect it from hackers, cybercrime, Insider Threats, unethical use, and the growing attack surface.
Essentially, it gives citizens full and complete control of their data, subject to some restrictions (for example, where data must be held by firms by law).