Data security and information governance are the hot practice areas for law firms these days, and nearly every month a new law firm unveils a rebranding effort or a new practice group angling to grow its business in this area. The latest is Akerman, which launched an 18-person Data Law group this month that will focus on data security, information governance and eDiscovery.
“Now that the recession is in the rearview window of many companies, they’re reviewing and engaging in what I call, ‘good information hygiene,’” said Martin Tully, co-chair of Akerman’s Data Law practice group.
Tully explained that while the breaches at Target make national headlines, smaller breaches occur on an almost daily basis. Akerman is working with outside technology vendors to help the firm’s clients install better security systems, and make plans in the event of a data breach. Just as offices hold fire drills, he said, many companies are now engaging in exercises that simulate a breach.
While people understand the need for better data security, Tully said the concept of information governance is still only emerging. Many of the firm’s clients pay to store and preserve vast amounts of data, and would love to get rid of it but are unsure of their legal obligations since there is a web of laws from state to state, and country to country governing how data must be stored and preserved.
“They want to get rid of it, they just don’t know how to do it and comply with their obligations,” he said. “I actually think there’s a lot more opportunity there.”
Because of the ever expanding volume of data, eDiscovery is also likely to grow, he said.
Like other law firms operating in this area, Akerman believes data law is a growth area, a view supported by many experts. Mary Meeker, of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also highlighted the need for better cybersecurity in her annual presentation on Internet trends earlier this year.
[caption id="attachment_2848" align="alignnone” width="591"][Image “http://www.kpcb.com/" (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Mary-Meeker.png)]Excerpted from KPCB’s Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015[/caption]
There’s also one other reason Akerman wants to make sure its clients know it has expertise in cybersecurity: Many clients are aware that law firms hold all their data and could be “the soft back door target” for hackers if there data security isn’t up to snuff, according to Tully.
“I think law firms have realized that’s an issue and taken steps to heighten their security,” he said. “We make sure we practice what we preach and look introspectively to what our own practices are.”
(UPDATED: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Akerman’s Data Law group includes 18 attorneys.)