Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Managing Law Firm Risk When Handling Personal Information

A reader sent in a link to an excellent article published by CNA, written by three lawyers from Hunton & Williams, including Lisa Sotto, head of their privacy and information management practice, and past risk webinar participant: "Law Firms Face Risks in Handling Personal Information" --
  • "Law firms may collect, use and disclose personal information in numerous circumstances, both as providers of legal services and as employers. In safeguarding personal information that pertains to their employees or clients, or other individuals, law firms must comply with applicable privacy and information security laws as well as their professional duty of confidentiality. The article provides an overview of potential legal issues that law firms may encounter."
  • The article also touches on privacy and information security laws outside the United States, including the legal requirements relevant to cross-border transfers of personal information."
  • "The final  topics the article addresses are examples of privacy and information security enforcement  actions, including judicial enforcement of professional ethics rules, and a brief discussion of  some of the key pending privacy and information security legislative initiatives."

  • "Regardless of the circumstances in which a law firm handles personal information, the firm must appropriately safeguard the information to protect the interests of the firm and its clients. Law firms are uniquely positioned in that their need for adequate privacy and information security procedures arises not only from the obligations imposed by privacy and information security laws. Lawyers are bound by a professional duty of confidentiality, which is a paramount component of the attorney-client relationship."
  • "A law firm’s failure to safeguard personal information that results in an unauthorized disclosure may result in not only a legal enforcement action against the firm, but financial and reputational harm to the firm’s clients and, potentially, irreparable harm to one of the firm’s most valuable assets – its reputation."
 See the complete article for more detailed discussion, analysis and citations.

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