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An IT Manager’s Guide to Improving Data Security Compliance in Law Firms

From intellectual property (IP) to trade secrets, law firms have access to a lot of confidential data that is vulnerable to risks. In one ransomware attack, hackers demanded an eye-watering $42 million from entertainment industry law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks. 


As law firms increasingly integrate cloud software and tech tools into their operations, cyber attacks are on the rise. Along with the fast-paced evolution of compliance regulations like GDPR and DPA, implementing data security measures must now be a top priority for every IT manager. 


In this article, we cover the importance of data security in the legal sector, and break down what measures law firms must put in place to stay safe and compliant. 

Why data classification is important in law firms

Data classification involves categorizing files and critical business information according to various criteria. This makes data easier to protect, which is especially important within law firms due to the highly sensitive nature of their work. 


With potential hackers seeking to gain access to financial information, personally identifiable information (PII), attorney-client-privileged data, and more, law firms must be vigilant against attack. A staggering 65% of law firms have fallen victim to some kind of cyber incident. Complex regulations and privacy laws are also constantly changing. Firms are morally obliged to safeguard client data and could face serious financial penalties should they fail to meet requirements. 


Data breaches don’t only risk damage to law firms themselves, but can cause their clients serious financial and reputational damage too. Implementing data classification can help mitigate risks and increase client confidence.

7 essential data security measures for law firms 

Any IT manager providing IT support for law firms must consider and implement the following steps when it comes to data security.

  1. Implement access controls  

To protect access to sensitive data, firms should implement security controls such as:


Law firms can implement role-based access controls (RBAC) to make sure only authorised personnel can access certain information. For example, only senior attorneys and specific administrative staff might have access to highly sensitive client files. 

  1. Enforce encryption protocols

It is important to encrypt all sensitive data, whether stored on local servers or cloud storage. This essentially scrambles confidential information, stopping unauthorised parties from reading it without a key.


Key types of encryption to be aware of include:


Law firms might use AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to encrypt client files before they are stored. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) can encrypt emails containing sensitive information to protect from interception.

  1. Utilise secure VPN connections 

Many modern law firms require their employees to work remotely or from different locations. A VPN, or virtual private network, can secure these connections. 


VPNs ensure that all data transmitted between remote locations and the firm’s main office is encrypted and cannot be intercepted. For instance, when attorneys access client files from a courthouse or from home, a VPN can provide a secure link to the firm’s network.

  1. Deploy data loss prevention strategies

Data loss prevention (DLP) tools can help monitor and control data transfers within a law firm. For example, DLP software might prevent an employee from sending an email containing key terms such as “confidential” to an unauthorised external address. 


Data loss prevention tools can also alert administrators if large amounts of data are being transferred in an unusual manner, which could indicate a data breach.

  1. Conduct regular security audits 

A security audit is a review of a law firm’s IT infrastructure in order to assess security threats. Regularly conducting security audits allows firms to assess how well their security policies are being followed and identify any potential vulnerabilities. 


An audit might include: 


  1. Plan incident response management 

Developing a comprehensive incident response plan enables a law firm to react quickly and effectively to data breaches. This plan could outline specific steps to be taken in the event of a data breach, and it could look something like the following. 


  1. Immediately isolating affected systems
  2. Notifying any impacted clients as required by law
  3. Conducting a forensic investigation to determine the source of the breach
  4. Repairing the breach or putting protections in place 

7. Leverage external IT expertise 

Outsourcing IT support for legal firms can be the most efficient way to access specialised knowledge that internal IT staff may not possess. Remember, data protection is not a one-and-done activity. Karen Painter Randall, chair of cybersecurity at law firm Connell Foley said “cybersecurity is not a product; it’s a process that requires a continuous holistic approach to managing risk.” 


External consultants like Arc Systems, who offer IT support in London, can implement multiple measures from managed cyber security to cloud business solutions. Local providers have the added benefit of being close-by to offer in-person IT support too. For example, UK firms around the capital can benefit from tailored IT support in Essex or London.

Ensure fast and effective data compliance 

As an IT manager looking to secure your firm’s sensitive data and stay ahead of compliance regulations, make sure you cover all your bases. Strong strategies for access, encryption, data transfer, data loss, audits, and incident response will help you build trust with clients, avoid costly data breaches, and protect your firm’s reputation.  

Ultimately, the most effective and stress-free way to ensure foolproof data security is to work with external professionals. Arc Systems’ IT support for solicitors can help you navigate the complexities of IT security. Get total peace of mind and outsource IT support services today.