When It Comes to Data Security, Corps Turn to Outside Counsel

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 11, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Privacy and data security are some of the most significant emerging legal issues of our day. (If you don't believe us, check out the continued fallout from the Panama Papers, or the OPM hack, or the billions of dollars spent on corporate cyber insurance policies.)

And when it comes to dealing with privacy and data security issues, companies turn to outside counsel, according to a new survey.

Businesses Spend a Fair Amount for Outside Expertise

Seventy-six percent of corporations bring on outside counsel to help with privacy and data security issues, according to a survey released last week by Bloomberg Law and the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

When it comes to privacy and data security, the spend on outside legal expertise isn't small, either. The average company shelled out nearly $170,000 a year on outside privacy and data security attorneys, at an average rate of $474 for transactional services, $539 for litigation, and $623 for specialized cybersecurity services.

When looking for outside expertise, companies listed a dedicated privacy team and subject matter experience as the most important factors. The survey looked at 353 privacy professionals in mostly U.S.-based companies, according to Bloomberg.

Why Execs Look Elsewhere

The survey results are in line with what we've heard from executives in the past: when it comes to cybersecurity, business leaders don't trust their in-house legal departments.

In May, a survey of thousands of corporate leaders, conducted by the legal recruiting company Barker Gilmore and NYSE Governance Services, found that corporate leaders were least likely to consult their in-house lawyers on issues relating to cybersecurity and social media risks.

Cybersecurity and social media were also two main areas directors wanted their general counsel to improve upon, according to the survey. Apparently, few in-house attorneys were listening.

So, if you're looking to prove the value of the legal department, developing some data security expertise should certainly set you apart.

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