The endless articles about AI would have you thinking that it is top-of-mind for lawyers and law firm CEOs, but not so. The Number One issue – at least according to a UK survey, is cyber security.
The HSBC UK survey was conducted with The Lawyer magazine, showing thast 70 per cent of law firms saw cyber-security as the top issue requiring investment and attention with a quarter of the firms having experienced a cyber attack within the past two years alone.
Eighty four percent of the firms said cyber security was their main tech focus in the next three years, rather than artificial intelligence, which has moved into third place.
Part of the reason for the slip in AI investment was because firms had already made heavy investment in AI technology and were bedding it into their systems and also calculating a return on investment.
Simon Adcock, HSBC UK’s Head of Professional Services, said: “With such a high proportion of firms exposed to cyber-attacks, it’s not surprising that improving cyber-security is of such importance. The frequency and sophistication of attacks is continuing to rise and recent high-profile incidents have only served to underline this, demonstrating the potentially catastrophic impact that a breach can have on a law firm.”
Most of the firms (60 per cent) said their tech investment was being put into ‘business as usual’ (BAU) requirements, such as Practice Management Systems and Customer Relationship Management tools.
“It’s seemed like every major law firm has been rushing to invest in AI and machine learning over the last few years to bring benefits to clients and stay ahead of the competition. While this will continue, our research points to a slight change of direction on the horizon to BAU requirements while they digest and evaluate the returns that these new platforms are delivering.”
Law firms are increasingly incorporating cyber security practices into their firms, providing support for clients across a range of areas including preventive and technical services to clients.
Law.com reported recently on an announcement in September that Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie had partnered with eosedge Legal, a cybersecurity firm that provides cybersecurity expertise to clients.
Kenneth Van Winkle, managing partner at Lewis Roca, said the reason for the partnership was the “need for an integrated law and tech approach to address cyberthreats” facing clients. He said that clients want firms to help them be “more proactive in conjunction with cybersecurity and data breach issues as opposed to be being reactive.”
But notwithstanding the business opportunity for law firms to grow their expertise in cyber security issues, the threat to the firms is also a critical concern, as the UK survey indicates.
The question of whether the war is being won, remains open, as we reported last year. But the battle for cyber security is certainly continuing to be the main focus for law firms’ tech spend.