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Breach Response Checklist for Law Firms

By Stew Smith

These days, data breaches have become almost commonplace.  It’s no longer if you get breached, but rather when you get breached.  While prevention is still key, it is important law firms implement procedures to quickly detect breaches and contain the damage once confirmed.  Likened to fire preparedness in an office building, cyber-security should be a non-negotiable component of a responsible workplace, regardless of size.  Don’t have a plan in place?  Here is a checklist of items to get you started: 

  • Review your state’s data breach laws and make a list of entities you have to contact.
  • Contact law enforcement or consumer protection agencies, if your state law requires it.
  • Contact your data security specialist or IT consultant.  If you don’t have one, you may want to hire someone to perform an IT security audit so you’re less likely to experience another data breach in the future.
  • Reach out to your insurance company if you have cyber liability insurance.  Your cyber liability insurance provider will pay for some of the costs associated with responding to a data breach, including (depending on your policy) crisis management, credit monitoring and data breach investigation.
  • Investigate the breach, compiling information as to where it occurred and what data was lost.  (If you’re not particularly tech-savvy, hiring a security consultant to perform an audit may be wise.)
  • Repair any security weaknesses, but keep records and evidence of the breach (which you might need to turn over to law enforcement agencies later).
  • Contact a credit monitoring company about fraud and IT theft prevention services you can offer your customers.
  • Set up a telephone line or e-mail address to handle incoming questions and concerns from customers.
  • Post an announcement on your website about the data breach and how customers may contact you with questions.
  • Notify individual customers (via e-mail, telephone or mail, in accordance with state regulations).

Post Assessment & Planning

  • Assess gaps and evaluate effectiveness of plans, procedures and staff training.
  • Adjust security and response plans and processes; communicate and train accordingly.
  • Stay current; test your plan often and remain aware of changing threats and law.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  Take some time to review this checklist and get the ball rolling on a response plan today.  Educate yourself on best practices, seek guidance on where you might be most vulnerable, patch any weaknesses and develop a strong security response plan for potential incidents and recovery.
Stew Smith, CISM is Vice President of Business Development at Business Machine Technologies, Inc.  A 21-year member of the BMT team, Stew helps new clients get the most from BMT’s arsenal of services.  A former Senior Network Engineer, and Operations Manager, Stew has authored many of BMT’s procedures and policies.  Stew may be reached at [email protected].

How Much Does VoIP Phone Service Cost a Small to Midsize Business?

By Vincent Finaldi

In the VoIP industry, one of the most common questions we are asked is, “How much does a cloud-based VoIP phone system cost?”  The answer is…it depends—primarily on three main factors.  To help you get a sense of how pricing is determined in the VoIP industry, we’ve openly and honestly discussed those three factors below.

VoIP Pricing: A History Lesson

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Artificial Intelligence's Impact on the Legal Industry

By Paul Sperry

Over the last few years, the legal industry has found itself in the midst of a sea change that has been exacerbated by competitive pressures, an increasingly intelligent client base and the advent of technology to control costs and affect outcomes.  Although there’s been tremendous interest around topics like alternative billing models, e-discovery, legal processing, outsourcing, mobility, cloud strategies, big data, security, etc., today it seems like everyone (engineers, data scientists, entrepreneurs, business owners, senior management executives and, yes, even lawyers) is talking about artificial intelligence (AI).

The Wikipedia definition of AI is “intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and animals.  A machine imitating human behavior, such as ‘learning’ and ‘problem solving’.”  The definition continues to change, and has been split into two broad types of AI—narrow (applied) and general.  Narrow AI is intelligent systems that have been taught to carry out specific tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so, e.g., Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.  General AI is the type of adaptable intellect found in humans, a flexible form of intelligence capable of learning how to carry out vastly different tasks.

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Moving to The Cloud and How to Get There

By Rich Kukla

The Cloud—Past, Present and Beyond

Over the past few years, the discussion concerning moving to the cloud has become one of the top topics of conversation in the IT industry.  As with any major infrastructure change, there are lots of options to consider, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for a cloud migration.
By definition, “the cloud” is nothing more than a data center that is accessible over the public Internet.  By moving to a cloud infrastructure, you’re moving your company’s data to someone else’s server, and paying a rental fee for that service.  Instead of purchasing physical servers, and hosting those servers at your office, your data would be stored in a data center, and you can access that data as needed.  This eliminates the need to refresh your on-premise server hardware every few years, and potentially increases your data’s accessibility.

The Cloud Ahead

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The State of Cybersecurity

By Douglas Concepcion

Based on the historical trend established over the last few years, it is expected that the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks will continue to increase.  54% of the professionals in the cybersecurity space anticipate a successful attack against their organization within the next twelve months.  Even though security budgets have been increasing over the last several years, the return on the investment has been decreasing, i.e., what is known as the trickledown effect.  This means that nation states and sophisticated actors (all black hat hackers) have been developing very powerful tools over the past (approximately) ten years, and as with all technical development, the tools eventually make their way into the public space.  In these cases, very innovative malware is now being used by criminal actors to circumvent the cybersecurity (hardware and software) of organizations.  Due to this level of concern, most organizations, on average, are increasing their security budget by 21% in the coming year, with a focus on securing planned or existing cloud infrastructures, applications, training and education of staff and mobile devices. 

The biggest hurdles experienced by organizations is lack of knowledgeable or skilled employees in cybersecurity; with an overall shortage worldwide of about 800,000 at the present time, that number is expected to increase to 1.7 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2020.  This shortage is causing organizations to increase training of existing staff in cybersecurity, and to contract with companies that offer Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) and Managed Service Provider (MSP) services.  A primary reason for the outsourcing to one of these organizations is that these service providers already have a dedicated staff in place 24/7, with the required skill sets for managing cybersecurity.  This removes a large portion of the security personnel burden from the organization, while also sharing the responsibility of security operations.

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The Power of Color—An In-Depth Look at the Perception of Law’s Top 3 Choices

By Jim Weber

Color.  It can make you feel.  Make you pay attention.  Make you remember.

While the topic of color theory, color psychology and the effects of color in advertising is broad, we will focus on the top three colors used in large law firm branding, and how those colors can influence a potential client's impression.

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Five Tips to Help Create a Safe Work Environment

By Andy Surtz

Since before 2018 even began, you could not turn on the television, radio or computer without seeing or hearing news of another person falling victim to harassment in the workplace.  The #metoo movement is long overdue, though it is taking the world by storm.  A conversation that should have occurred in every workplace for decades is now happening consistently.  The idea of a safe work environment is not new.  However, it can be guaranteed that this idea is not going anywhere any time soon.  Employees, as well as employers, are taking notice of issues that may have been swept under the rug or laughed off in the past.  Here are five tips to help make sure you are creating a safe and inclusive work environment.

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Act Now…Before It’s Too Late! Can Smaller and Mid-Size Law Firms Successfully Adapt to the Changing Marketplace?

By John Remsen, Jr.

According to recent surveys conducted by The Managing Partner Forum and others, far too many smaller and mid-size law firms are doing little, if anything, to evolve and adapt in the face of rapid and accelerating change in the legal services industry.  What little innovation does occur is driven by the client in almost every case. And that’s not good if smaller and mid-size firms want to survive.

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The Five Compliance Questions You Should Be Asking Every Vendor

By Jerry Colasurdo

A common buzzword in the last few years, compliance is a top priority for many law firms.  In the process service industry, we’ve seen a significant increase in compliance requirements, especially in the financial sector.  Whether mandated by federal or state rules and laws or put in place due to increasing pressure from clients, securing confidential information is critical for law firms of every size.  Being compliant requires a proactive approach that covers all the bases. 

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4 Tips for Law Firms Who Want the Most Out of Their Process Server

By Amanda Sexton

Process service isn’t something every office manager has to deal with on a regular basis.  But with the potential to impact client satisfaction, staff workload and timelines for cases, it should be on every administrator’s radar.  Below are some helpful tips you can use (or pass along to your staff) to make sure subjects and entities are getting served as quickly as possible.

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Competent and Reasonable Measures of Data Security

By Kevin Roth

The probability of a malware attack on the legal community is higher than ever.  In 2015, Cisco ranked law firms as the seventh most-vulnerable industry to “malware encounters”.1 Bloomberg Law reported in 2015 that at least 80 of the 100 biggest [law] firms in the country, by revenue, have been hacked.2  Cybersecurity firm, LogicForce, recently released a report that revealed over 200 U.S. law firms faced hacking attempts for confidential client data between 2016 and 2017, and 40% of the firms didn’t even know the attack had occurred.  Additionally, the LogicForce report found:

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Business Development—Five Ways to Impress Clients

By Anne Itri

The number one rule of business development is to always impress your clients.  Happy clients will continue to give you their business and are much more likely to give you additional business and referrals.  The number two rule of business development is to always impress those with whom you work.  Eventually, they will have a need for your services and remember you.

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Like Blood Pressure, Your Copy and Printing Costs Should be Checked Regularly

By Joe Donohue

Unless you’ve implemented a print policy in your office, there’s a good chance your print volumes and costs may be higher than you think. Like high blood pressure, high copy and print expenses left unchecked can have a negative impact on the overall health of your company. Even in today’s economic climate that demands expense visibility and control, the avoidable waste associated with office printing is eye opening, to say the least!

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Designing Suburban Law Firm Workspace

By Dana Nalbantian, Jennifer Ellis-Rosa, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C and Rosemarie DeCiccio, CID, IIDA, LEED AP

Gensler, a global interior/architecture design firm with a focus on law firm design, hosted an NJALA workshop at its Morristown, New Jersey office on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.  The session gave a glimpse into the design process for creating law firm workspace.  The Gensler design team led participants through three activities to simulate the preliminary phases of the design process. 

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10 Rules-Based Printing Tips to Reduce Your Firm’s Print Costs

By Joe Miller

If you're reading this, you might have already heard about rules-based printing, and then you're wondering how it can help you.  Beyond the productivity, control and information gains that a rules-based printing environment brings, you can also reduce your overall print footprint (a footprint that determines how large your printing expenditure is and will continue to be).  Shrinking your print footprint is the only sure-fire way to lower your overall costs.

There are 10 major ways that rules-based printing can be leveraged to reduce print costs:

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Major Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a New Phone System for a Law Office

By Vincent Finaldi

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with many law firms primarily located in Northern or Central New Jersey.  These law firms have ranged in overall size, from scaled multisite law offices with decades of experience to startup firms looking to build a new practice.

Regardless of firm size or type of law being practiced, I’ve come across some problematic buying behaviors common among these law firms.  I want to share these with you so your firm doesn’t inadvertently make the wrong phone-related decision.  Remember, phone systems are long-term investments, and it’s often not easy to undo a decision once it’s finalized.

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How to Modify Your Partnership Agreement Under the New Partnership Audit Regime

By Carolyn Dolci, CPA and Alyssa Rausch, CPA, MBA

Now is the time to dust off your partnership agreement and amend it to reflect the new partnership audit rules. Effective January 1, 2018 (or earlier, if elected), under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, all partnerships (including LLPs and LLCs taxed as partnerships) will be impacted by the new partnership audit rules. Below are key questions to consider as you update your partnership agreement.

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Insurance Issues in the News

By Leo F. Miller, Jr., C.I.C. and Staci Grant, RHU

Cyber Threats

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Legal Office Planning Trends—Are NJ Law Firms Ready to Shift to Working Remotely?

By Jennifer Ellis-Rosa

Most law firms in New Jersey have been slow to adopt modern office trends. I’m not talking about slick, glossy interiors that look like they belong in a magazine. I’m referring to spaces that have outdated planning metrics and are not adaptable as technology continually evolves. The fact is most of these firms lease more space than they need.

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Best Practices to Reducing Cyber Risk

By Stew Smith, CISM

The challenges associated with a data breach are changing the legal landscape.  The March 2017 issue of the ABA Journal cited cybersecurity as the biggest risk that law firms face in 2017.

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