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From safeguarding employees in distant offices to protecting client proprietary information stored in cyber files, law firm security takes many forms.
Many of these security efforts are driven by the stakeholders. Associates who find themselves a world away from home conducting business in a country in turmoil want reassurance that their personal protection, as well as that of their families, is not threatened and they are as safe as can reasonably be expected. Additionally, they want to know that this level of security is in place before they agree to travel.
Similarly, companies which take enormous care to protect proprietary information from formulae to customer lists want to know that their law firm (and other vendors) is treating this information with the same care. Be sure your firm is not a weak link in your clients’ information security chain. For example, the pressures of making information available on mobile devices, the “Bring your own device” (BYOD) concept, has many implications on the security of your firm’s proprietary information as well as your clients’ information. Based on personal experience, it is not unusual for a law firm or vendor to receive a lengthy questionnaire, and even an inspection, from a potential client who wants to review its vendors’ security plans and policies.
And, we should not forget the importance of training these individuals. They too bear significant responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others and for their clients’ secrets. This is not just a lawyer’s responsibility. Training also builds awareness and encourages conscientious conduct.
Are your firm’s information and physical security polices, training and monitoring at a higher standard than your clients? If not, re-consider your information and physical risk assessments by implementing a program that strengthens your firm’s security standards. The connection between cyber security and physical security is undisputed. Both are needed. A lapse in one leads to dangers in each.
Bart M. Schwartz is the chairman of Guidepost Solutions LLC, a global leader in investigations, due diligence, security and technology consulting, immigration and cross-border consulting, and monitoring and compliance solutions.