Lawyers are failing at cybersecurity, says ABA TechReport 2019

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Lawyers are failing on cybersecurity, according to the American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center’s ABA TechReport 2019.

“In fact, the results are shocking and reflect little, if any, positive movement in the past year or even in the past few years,” reads the article on cybersecurity released Wednesday. “The lack of effort on security has become a major cause for concern in the profession.”

The annual report looks at how attorneys use all kinds of technology in their practices. Articles on cloud computing, cybersecurity and websites and marketing were released free online. There are six more articles that will be released Wednesdays through Dec. 18.

The survey found that the most popular security measure being used by 35% of respondents was secure socket layers, which encrypt computer communications, including web traffic. Only 27% make local data backups. Since 2018, the number of respondents reading vendor privacy policies fell from 38% to 28%. While a mere 23% investigated a vendor’s history, even though 94% said vendor reputation mattered when deciding who to contract with.

Meanwhile, slightly more than a quarter of respondents (26%) reported their firm had had a security breach.

Among other findings, the 2019 survey reports that lawyers using cloud-based technology increased slightly, from 55% to 58% since the 2018 report. Only 25% of respondents reported that they are reviewing ethics opinions related to cloud technology. Ironically, the survey indicates that lawyers are tepid about the cloud because of cybersecurity concerns.

On the marketing front, just under half of all respondents reported having a marketing budget (47%). The study found that how likely a firm was to have a marketing budget depended on its size. Nearly all firms with 100 or more attorneys had a marketing budget (94%), while only 61% of firms with 10-49 lawyers, 31% of firms with 2-9 lawyers and 17% of solo firms had one. Solos primarily relied on email, Facebook and Avvo for their marketing needs, and only 57% of solo respondents reported having a website. Just under half of firms with 10 to 49 lawyers reported using email most often for their marketing, which was followed by print (41%).

The TechReport is an amalgamation of data from the Legal Technology Survey Report with expert analysis, observations and predictions from legal technology leaders

The survey report is broken into five volumes, including online research, Tech Basics & Security, Law Office Technology, Marketing & Communication Technology and a new addition this year: Life & Practice. The volumes are currently on sale at the ABA website.

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