The ABA Journal reports on a new practice trend for lawyers: acting as privilege shield. As hacker attacks increase, companies are turning to lawyers to assist with initial investigations. While presumably lawyers bring substantive knowledge to the table and can help companies assess potential liability, they offer an even more valuable benefit: privilege. Many companies want to protect internal investigations of a data breach from use in subsequent litigation – but that information may be more easily discoverable if a company relies solely on a forensics company to assist in post-breach diligence.
The ABA article references several big firms that are branching out into the privilege shield area. But there’s no reason that solos and small couldn’t replicate this practice area. After all, many small and mid-sized companies are hacked also – and would benefit both from a privilege shield as well as legal advice on how to minimize liability. Solos and smalls have an advantage over their big law colleagues too: because companies will already have to shell out significant dollars for forensics experts, they may want to limit what they pay for legal advice as well.
Marketing this type of service isn’t difficult either, because lawyers can pitch vendors as well as the ultimate client. A firm could create a webinar series to educate vendors on the law of data breach or the importance of having an attorney on the team. If the vendor is impressed, it could refer the lawyer to its clients or offer some type of packaged service (so long as its structured to avoid fee splitting). You might also approach vendors directly and offer a proposal for teaming up – an API so to speak.
As we move into the future, we often forget about the USP (unique selling proposition) that sets lawyers apart from the journalists and travel agents who have gone the way of the dinosaur. We’ve been empowered with an awesome superpower: ability to protect client confidentiality. It’s that power that enables us as lawyers to protect and defend our clients – and now perhaps, it’s that same power that will protect us as the legal profession as we know it disrupts.