Australasian Lawyer: Most firms lack cybersecurity crisis management playbooks, GCs reveal

Originally Published in Australasian Lawyer | January 20, 2017 | By Sol Dolor

Most firms do not have cybersecurity and data privacy crisis management playbooks, general counsels reveal in a just-released study.

In the recently released 2017 General Counsel Report from the Consero Group, only 18% of the GCs surveyed said their firms had the said playbooks, and only 17% are in the process of making one.

This is despite the American and British general counsels being most worried about data privacy and cybersecurity risk, with 50% of respondents identifying it as the top area of risk for the current year.

This is followed by operational risk with 36%, bribery and corruption risk with 29%, supplier risk with 27%, labour and employment liability with 23% and whistleblower concerns with 13%.

Nonetheless, 60% said that their companies are prepared to defend against such attacks. The survey found that 25% of GCs report their companies experiencing a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months. Among the GCs, 55% were very involved or involved in cybersecurity and data privacy matters and 38% reported being just somewhat involved.

Meanwhile, GCs identified compliance and ethics management as their top area of focus this year, with 54% of respondents indicating the area as their top focus, followed by labour and employment with 29%, outside counsel management with 27%, litigation management with 18%, intellectual property management at 7%.

If legal departments are constrained this year, GCs see access to budgetary resources as the top reason, with 41% picking it as a concern. Next are lack of buy-in from senior management and talent gap within the legal department, which tie at second with 19%, followed by regulatory compliance matters with 14%.

Spending will increase in 2017, 44% of GCs surveyed said. The same percentage expected spending to be flat, while 12% said it will likely decrease.

Most legal departments handled by GCs surveyed handled half to three quarters of legal work in-house. The survey found that 47% of respondents said that 51% to 75% of legal work is conducted in house, followed by 30% who said in-house teams handle 76% to all legal work.