Due to pandemic-related disruption, the legal industry is bracing for a sustained downturn. HBR Consulting and The Managing Partner Forum recently conducted a poll of 75 mid-sized firms (<500 lawyers). Responses revealed that more than 60% of respondents are forecasting up to a 25% decrease in top line revenue for 2020. Fewer than 5% of polled firms are predicting no revenue loss at all. This begs the question, what can firms do now to adjust pre-existing 2020 plans to weather this unprecedented storm and, if possible, emerge stronger on the other side
As the economic and social disruption caused by current events continues to mount, law firms and other organizations are beginning to temporarily close offices and require employees to work remotely. The current situation is a reminder of the issues that firms should evaluate when planning for business continuity: its business needs, its users’ needs, and what is required from the IT staff and network to support those needs. Following are some questions firm leadership should ask itself and the firm’s IT organization when planning for business continuity in the event of a situation like we now face.
Law firms face a wide range of risks associated with the information technology (IT) operations in their firms. The most obvious tech-related risks are cybersecurity threats and business continuity needs in the event of an IT infrastructure outage. These are indeed high-stakes risks that are deserving of the news headlines and conference keynote addresses in recent years.
I was privileged to present on the topic of contract risk at the recent 2020 LegalWeek, along with Lee Matthews of Wolters Kluwer, one of HBR’s technology partners. The presentation centered around the types and sources of contract risk and how to combat them.
In 2015, 11.5 million documents referred to as the Panama Papers were leaked from a Panamanian law firm and revealed widespread global tax evasion involving notable individuals (including FIFA soccer officials and the Icelandic Prime Minister). The scandal brought global scrutiny to money laundering and the role law firms play in assisting such actions. Since then, regulators in the U.S., UK and E.U. have vowed to close up loopholes and enforce stricter anti-money laundering rules on intermediaries including banks and law firms to mitigate the issue. With mainstream media reports about money laundering intensifying, global law firms must take anti-money laundering (AML) compliance not as a suggestion, but as a necessity.
Earlier this year, Legal IT Professionals featured an article co-authored by my colleague James Britt and me that provides a list of cybersecurity best practices global law firms should prioritize in 2017. More specifically, we discussed specific steps law firms can take to address gaps that previously provided hackers with easy access to sensitive data.