Protecting Client Data: Cyber Security for Law Firms

Cyber Security for Law Firms

How lawyers can safeguard their clients’ sensitive information from cyberattacks, and how Jera IT can help you do it. 


Amongst all of the things you need to stay up to date on, cyber security for law firms is becoming more and more vital. Lawyers have a professional and ethical duty to protect their clients’ confidential information from unauthorised access, disclosure, or misuse. This includes not only the content of legal advice and representation, but also any personal, financial, or business data that clients entrust to their lawyers. 

However, in the digital age, lawyers face increasing cyber threats that can compromise their data security and expose them to legal liability, reputational damage, and loss of trust. According to a 2019 report by the Law Society of England and Wales, 19% of law firms experienced a cyberattack in the past year, and 23% did not know whether they had been attacked or not. 

In this blog post, we will discuss why cybersecurity is essential for law firms, what are the common cyber risks they face, and how they can implement best practices to prevent and respond to cyberattacks.  

If you’re reading through this and thinking there’s no way you can fit all of these points into your already busy schedule, we’re here to help. Our mission at Jera IT is to take away all the stress and mess of staying on top of cyber security, allowing you to focus on what really matters for your business.  

Why cyber security for law firms is essential

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting networks, systems, devices, and data from unauthorised or malicious access, use, or damage. For law firms, cybersecurity is not only a matter of good business practice, but also a legal and ethical obligation. 

  • Legal obligation: Lawyers have a duty to comply with the laws and regulations that govern data protection and privacy in their jurisdiction. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require lawyers to implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security of personal data they process, and to notify the relevant authorities and affected individuals in case of a data breach. Failure to do so can result in fines, sanctions, and lawsuits. 
  • Ethical obligation: Lawyers have a duty to maintain the confidentiality and privilege of their clients’ information, as well as their own work product and communications. This is a core principle of the legal profession, and a breach of confidentiality can have serious consequences for the lawyer-client relationship, the quality of legal services, and the administration of justice. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Code of Conduct, for instance, states that lawyers must “keep the affairs of current and former clients confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or the client consents.” 
  • Business obligation: Lawyers have a duty to protect their own reputation, credibility, and competitiveness in the market. A data breach can undermine the trust and confidence that clients and potential clients have in a law firm, and damage its brand and reputation. Moreover, a data breach can result in direct and indirect costs for a law firm, such as legal fees, fines, remediation expenses, lost revenue, and increased insurance premiums. 

What are the common cyber risks for law firms 

Law firms are attractive targets for cybercriminals, hackers, and other malicious actors, because they hold valuable and sensitive data, such as client identities, financial records, trade secrets, intellectual property, litigation strategies, and court documents. Moreover, law firms often have access to the data and systems of their clients, which can expose them to further risks and liabilities. 

Some of the common cyber risks that law firms face are: 

  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves sending fraudulent emails or other messages that appear to come from a legitimate source, such as a client, a colleague, a bank, or a government agency. The aim of phishing is to trick the recipient into clicking on a malicious link, opening an infected attachment, or providing sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account details. Phishing can lead to data theft, malware infection, ransomware attack, or identity fraud. 
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the data or systems of the victim, and demands a ransom for the decryption key. Ransomware can prevent lawyers from accessing their files, emails, or applications, and disrupt their operations and services. Ransomware can also expose lawyers to extortion, blackmail, or data leakage, if the attackers threaten to publish or sell the encrypted data, or delete it permanently, unless the ransom is paid. 
  • Data breach: A data breach is an unauthorised or accidental access, disclosure, or loss of data, either by an external or internal actor. A data breach can occur due to phishing, ransomware, hacking, insider threat, human error, or physical theft. A data breach can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data, and expose lawyers to legal, ethical, and business consequences. 

How to prevent and respond to cyberattacks 

Law firms can take proactive and reactive measures to prevent and respond to cyberattacks, and mitigate their impact and damage. Some of the best practices are: 

  • Conduct a risk assessment: Law firms should identify and assess the cyber threats and vulnerabilities that they face, and evaluate the potential impact and likelihood of a cyberattack. A risk assessment can help law firms prioritise their cybersecurity needs and resources, and establish a baseline for their security posture and policies. 
  • Implement a security policy: Law firms should develop and implement a security policy that defines the roles and responsibilities of the staff, the security standards and procedures, the acceptable use of devices and networks, the data classification and retention rules, the incident response and reporting protocols, and the security awareness and training programmes. A security policy can help law firms establish a culture of security and accountability, and ensure compliance with the legal and ethical obligations. 
  • Use encryption and backup: Law firms should encrypt their data and devices, both at rest and in transit, to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure. Encryption can also help law firms recover their data in case of a ransomware attack, as they can restore the data from a backup, without paying the ransom. Law firms should also backup their data regularly and securely, and test the backup and recovery process. 
  • Update and patch: Law firms should update and patch their systems, software, and applications regularly, to fix any security vulnerabilities or bugs that could be exploited by attackers. Law firms should also use antivirus and firewall software, and scan their devices and networks for malware and other threats. 
  • Educate and train: it is vital to educate and train your staff on the importance of cyber security for law firms, and the best practices to follow. Law firms should also conduct regular security awareness campaigns, simulations, and tests, to reinforce the security knowledge and skills of the staff, and to measure their security behaviour and performance. 
  • Monitor and audit: Law firms should monitor and audit their security activities and events, and collect and analyse security data and logs, to detect and respond to any suspicious or anomalous activity, and to identify and remediate any security gaps or weaknesses. Law firms should also conduct regular security audits and reviews, and seek external or independent verification of their security compliance and effectiveness. 


Cyber security for law firms is a vital and urgent issue, as they hold and process sensitive and valuable data that can be targeted by cyberattacks. Law firms have a legal, ethical, and business duty to protect their clients’ data, as well as their own reputation and competitiveness. Law firms can prevent and respond to cyberattacks by implementing best practices, such as conducting risk assessments, developing security policies, using encryption and backup, updating and patching, educating and training, and monitoring and auditing. By doing so, law firms can enhance their data security and resilience, and safeguard their clients’ trust and confidence. 

Here’s the thing though. We understand how busy a law firm can be, and we know how time sensitive these things can be. That’s why we’re offering a free cyber security stack to get you started. Contact us today and we’ll offer you a free cyber security audit, as well as 3 months of free IT security training for your team to plug any of the gaps we find!