Keep your finger on the legal world's pulse
U.S. government alerts companies to impending ransomware attacks
A new initiative from the U.S. government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued around 225 notifications about planned ransomware attacks since the beginning of the year. The Pre-Ransomware Notification Initiative alerts organizations about a viable, imminent plot to lock up their systems and hold customer data hostage. Many of those alerted so far have been schools and hospitals. Through a related CISA program, the Ransomware Vulnerability Warning Pilot, the agency also identifies risks in organizations' systems and notifies them about those vulnerabilities. CISA's warnings go beyond the U.S., with the agency alerting organizations in 18 countries to 52 planned ransomware attacks. It has also received 33 notifications from 10 partner countries of impending attacks on U.S. organizations, and CISA wants to scale up the initiative, reports Bloomberg.
Law firms need SIEM to protect sensitive data
Law firms are prime targets for cybercriminals due to the high value of the information they hold, including confidential client data, intellectual property, and financial records. To protect their sensitive data from cyberthreats, law firms need to deploy advanced security tools that can help detect and respond to threats in real-time. One such tool is security information and event management (SIEM) software. SIEM is a security technology that collects logging data and analyzes security-related information from multiple sources to find and mitigate security threats. SIEM tools can help law firms meet compliance requirements, improve their incident response capabilities, and proactively identify and address security issues before they can be exploited by cybercriminals. SIEM solutions provide a necessary layer of protection for law firms with hybrid and remote staff. SIEM logs can be used to learn exactly how the attacker gained access to the network and recreate the attack to find out what systems were compromised and what data has been exfiltrated. "An effective SIEM solution enhances law firms' information security by adding another layer of defense and always-on awareness of suspicious activity," says Mike Paul, Innovative Computing Systems' chief technology officer.

AI and ML: The Future is Yours
Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools are the most popular area for business IT investment in 2023, with 80% of executives believing that automation can be applied to any business decision. However, IT leaders must rethink how they cost-effectively deploy, integrate, and manage AI and ML solutions across the enterprise. AI and ML offerings are now must-have tools for modern organizations, and companies in every space, including law firms and legal departments, are turning to smart and automated technology tools to forecast market performance, optimize operations, target new market/audience segments, hire/train staff, and make smarter strategic decisions. Recent analyses estimate that AI will add as much as $13tn to the global economy by 2030.

Technology, personalization and speed among key trends in online lead form responsiveness
According to a new study from digital marketing agency Hennessey Digital, 27% of law firms don't respond to online leads. Hennessey Digital's annual Lead Form Response Time Study takes a close look at the response times to online leads by law firms across the U.S. and identifies trends in lead form responsiveness and law firm website design to help lawyers understand the impact online leads and client intake have on digital marketing performance. According to the survey of 1,300 law firms, in 2023, there was a 97% jump in the number of law firms that responded to an online lead form in under five minutes compared to a year ago. Lawyers are heavily invested in serving their community in their moments of need, as shown by 73% of law firms that responded to their online lead form. However, 27% of law firms either responded in more than seven days or not at all. Chat features, which allow for personalization at a greater speed, are on the rise on law firm websites with 64% of sites having chat, up 7% from 2022. Meanwhile, 35% of law firms have Spanish language or multi-language features on their website. 
The expanding influence of legal ops
Marc Zamsky and Marla Crawford, the CEO and general counsel, respectively, for Cimplifi, an integrated legal services provider that aligns e-discovery and contract analytics for corporate legal departments and law firms, see broader acceptance of AI and expect continued expansion across the legal industry. Despite the fascination with ChatGPT, people are a little hesitant to implement AI in CLM because they either don’t fully understand it or they lack the manpower to effectively implement it. But, according to Mr. Zamsky, as legal operations and business leaders collaborate more seamlessly on developing solutions that involve technology, they will develop a true partnership. Also, as the reluctance to adopt AI and CLM subsides, legal operations teams may begin to rely more heavily on outside experts to help them with the administration of this new technology, similar to the support many organizations receive for e-discovery and document review. 
Skadden requires lawyers in office four days per week
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is requiring lawyers to work in the office four days per week, Monday through Thursday. The new policy is a modified hybrid work model that aims to fuel innovation and professional development through more frequent in-person collaboration. The move comes as Big Law firms, including Skadden's rivals Davis Polk & Wardwell, Milbank, and Simpson Thacher, have been requiring attorneys to come into the office Tuesday through Thursday each week. Simpson Thacher and Sidley Austin have threatened to withhold bonus money from associates who do not show up to the office three days a week. Skadden's policy change reflects the current market where employers hold the power. A 2022 American Bar Association survey found that 44% of respondents with less than 10 years of legal experience said they would leave their place of employment for one that offers greater ability to work remotely.
Davis Polk and Simpson Thacher to advise on A&O/Shearman tie-up
Wall Street law firms Davis Polk and Simpson Thacher have been appointed to advise on the proposed merger between Shearman & Sterling and Allen & Overy (A&O). The two firms will be tasked with untangling potential issues around pay structures, which are expected to be one of the most challenging aspects of the deal. The appointment of independent legal advisers sends out an important message to partners during law firm merger negotiations, according to Zulon Begum, a partner in London firm CM Murray’s partnership and LLP practice. The merger is expected to take between six and 12 months to complete.
BCLP latest firm to trim its employee ranks
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) said Thursday it has laid off 47 business services professionals globally, becoming the latest firm to trim its employee ranks in recent months. BCLP, which has about 1,275 lawyers in 31 offices, said the cuts will mainly affect secretarial and administrative positions in the U.S. and that no lawyers were let go. Earlier this month, Dechert let go of 55 lawyers and 43 business professionals, representing 5% of its global workforce. Other firms including Cooley, Goodwin Procter, Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, Lowenstein Sandler, Davis Wright Tremaine, Perkins Coie, Shearman & Sterling and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan have also laid off lawyers, staff or both since the fall. BCLP generated about $845.2m gross revenue in 2022, marking about a 3.8% decline compared with 2021, according to The American Lawyer. The 100 largest U.S. law firms grew gross revenue by 2.7% on average last year, but profits per equity partner dipped by 3.7%, figures show.
Is hustle worth it in a legal world?
According to lawyer Jill Switzer, given all the concern about mental health, substance abuse, and work-life balance, newer people in the law profession may not have the same interest in clawing their way up the Big Law ladder to maybe get a partnership ring after many years. She argues that the reason might be in the fact that the newbies have seen the sacrifices made by those who realized the prize wasn’t worth the effort. Ms. Switzer notes that some Big Law firms have started to award and others to demand lawyers return to working from the office, suggesting law firms should reduce office space instead of mandating return to work.
SEC's largest-ever award related to Ericsson's bribery case
The record $279m whistleblower award issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this month stemmed from a bribery case against telecommunications company Ericsson. The award was related to the $1.1bn settlement Ericsson reached with U.S. authorities in 2019 over allegations it made illegal payments to win business in five countries. The SEC's cash-for-tips program allows whistleblowers to receive between 10% and 30% of fines collected in SEC civil-enforcement actions and related actions from other enforcement agencies. Ericsson's wrongdoing occurred in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Kuwait and Indonesia from 2000 to 2016. The deferred prosecution agreement in 2019 included a $520m criminal penalty and $540m disgorgement of illicit profits and required Ericsson to retain a compliance monitor for three years and to cooperate in related probes.


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