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A critical skill that an aspiring lawyer must possess is commercial awareness. One particularly important aspect is to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the market in which these law firms work. At the end of the day, any firm is just a business like all the others and therefore, it should react similarly to the changes made in the industry.

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A law firm should capitalize on new opportunities that pop up while also working on overcoming the obstacles so that it can stay ahead of other law firms. The year 2018 brings about a new set of challenges that law firms should work on if they wish to thrive in this globally competitive sector. Below, we cover three of the major issues that law firms will be facing this year:

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is becoming a big issue, and hackers have started to target an increasing number of institutions. For instance, there was a ransomware hack back in 2017 that threatened numerous organizations in more than 150 countries across the globe.

Hackers target law firms since they possess exceptionally confidential and valuable information that hackers can use for monetary purposes. Sensitive information that law firms possess include patents, bank information, trade secrets, and in some cases, government secrets as well. One key task for law firms is to make sure that the client’s data is protected at all times. However, with the increasing number of threats, as well as the complexity of the attacks, security has become a great challenge.

Failure to protect the data adequately can cause two major problems. Firstly, law firms can face claims of negligence and claimants can argue that law firms are negligent about taking care of data. They can also argue that law firms have breached the contract that stated they would carry out services with reasonable care and skillfulness.

Secondly, when looking from an economic and business perspective, it can undermine the reputation of the firm.

The solution to this challenge is to choose only top-of-the-line security. This year, firms should make security their top priority. An attorney must make sure that the firm itself, as well as third-party vendors, adhere to advanced industry standards to guarantee that a secure environment is maintained. They should follow practices such as conducting training with users regarding best security practices, never storing data on personal devices, and multi-factor authentication.

Incorporating technology

Technology also plays a big factor in determining how employees work in law firms. Due to technological advancements, efficiency has increased such that the time lawyers spend on a task is reduced.

While technology that enables lawyers to become more productive has been evolving for a number of years, the underlying problem is that firms usually have many people working for them that may not be well-trained. This failure has led to data breaches and ransomware attacks when employees take certain actions that allow cyber thieves inside. Training for all employees must be ongoing. People get busy and forget, then make careless mistakes. Monthly training sessions can raise awareness.

Though some security solutions promote unrealistic and lofty expectations, simple monthly training has proven to be very effective.  Human error is most often the reason why a law firm’s network is infected with a virus or worm.

The easy solution for this problem is mandatory monthly security training. People can be readily taught exactly what to look for in emails. A security professional can explain how phishing scams work. Better informed employees are far less likely to click on a suspicious link that downloads a deadly ransomware attack.

Helping users accept change

Implementing change is difficult because humans are just naturally resistant to change. Research suggests that 70% of initiatives taken for organizational change do not achieve their target. While there are numerous factors that can be blamed for this failure, employee resistance is the biggest one, contributing to 39%. While change is often not welcome, it is definitely possible. Employees must understand the reason for these changes. They must fully grasp the cost of one single breach.

Employees once resisted new technology as well, but today, people seem to enjoy learning about all the new robotic gadgets being invented. Users of new technology or changes to security should be fully involved from the beginning. The key is to keep it simple. The management is responsible for communicating their expectations and explaining to the staff why the change is critical.

Once employees understand why new security measures have been put in place, they should be fully on-board. After all, if a law firm experiences a huge breach that costs millions, it will affect everyone that works at the firm. Jobs could be lost, along with damage to the firm’s reputation.

Each year brings new challenges with it. Though new technology is often viewed with some trepidation, the end result is that law firms will be able to get more done with fewer resources. This can improve the bottom line and help a firm move ahead of the competition. Whether you’re dealing with new security challenges or a new content management system, face the challenge head-on.