Virtual CISOs: A Strategic Asset for Meeting Legal Cybersecurity Benchmarks
By Mike Brimberry
Published July 10, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re a managing partner, principal, or senior IT staff at a law firm, an intentional, well-defined cybersecurity program isn’t just a nice-to-have—these days it’s a must.

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Rule 1.6 requires you to take reasonable steps to protect client information from unauthorized access and breaches. However, if you’re a small- to mid-sized legal firm, rarely do you have the budget to hire a cybersecurity expert like a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) internally.

Instead, a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) can help your firm meet legal cybersecurity benchmarks, keep data secure, stay compliant, and serve your clients even better than you do now without the expense of a full-time hire.

In this post, we’ll cover the most-common threats law firms like yours face and how a vCISO can be a strategic asset to help defend your firm on a budget.

What Kinds of Threats Do Law Firms Face?

Your firm is a prime target for cyberattacks due to your sensitive data, personal information, financial records, and confidential case details, so cybercriminals will use any way they can to get inside. Some common entry points for cybercriminals are:

  • Phishing Attacks: Emails tricking employees into revealing sensitive information.
  • Ransomware: Malware that locks your data until a ransom is paid.
  • Insider Threats: Employees misusing access to sensitive data. (For example, entering client data into ChatGPT or other insecure AI tools.)

The ABA’s Rule 1.6 requires that you must make reasonable efforts to protect clients’ information against threats like these.

If you use M365 at your firm, your IT department has access to advanced tools to guard against phishing and ransomware attacks and protect your sensitive data.

What Regulations Does Your Law Firm Need to Comply With?

Law firms also may need to be compliant with client data laws such as:

Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to fines and damage to your firm’s reputation.

How a vCISO Can Help Your Firm Meet Cybersecurity Benchmarks

A vCISO with experience in legal services will understand your industry and design cybersecurity and compliance policies to fit your firm. A vCISO can:

  • Do Audits and Assessments: Identify security and compliance gaps and comply with the requirements of the ABA.
  • Develop Policies: Create and enforce policies that align with legal standards.
  • Implement technologies: Deploy specific cybersecurity and compliance tools designed and tailored for legal services.
  • Provide Training and Awareness: Educate your employees on best practices and the importance of cybersecurity.
  • Update Policies: Keep your firm’s policies and practices up to date with the latest regulations.

Risk management is also crucial, especially in a field with sensitive data. A vCISO can help your firm to:

  • Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.
  • Address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
  • Respond to security incidents with pre-defined procedures to minimize damage.

CISO vs VCISO: Protect Your Data & Stay Compliant on the Cheap

Cost and Resource Efficiency

A full-time Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) can cost $ six-figures or more to hire. A vCISO provides the same level of expertise and strategic oversight without the high costs, making it ideal for smaller firms or those looking to secure their firm and manage costs.

Consistency and Stability

CISOs are in high demand, and losing your CISO to an only-slightly-better offer down the block can disrupt your cybersecurity initiatives until you can hire again. A vCISO, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. They’re a consistent expert (or even team of experts) committed to your firm’s long-term goals.

Flexibility and Scalability

The first heft to secure your firm is often the most difficult and time-consuming, and so your firm will likely experience fluctuations in your needs. While a CISO is full-time, non-negotiable, a vCISO can give you flexible support, scaling services up or down as your needs change and making sure you’re only paying for what you need.


With sensitive client data, intellectual property, and confidential case details now being stored in the cloud, cybersecurity must be more than something you think about every once and awhile. A Virtual Chief Information Security Officer offers an effective and cost-efficient solution for law firms needing to focus on cybersecurity without the high costs of a full-time hire.

If you’re a small to mid-sized law firm, we’d love to offer you a 90-day free demo of our vCISO platform. This demo will demonstrate what we’ve talked about in his post: How a vCISO can enhance your firm’s security posture, ensure compliance, and protect your sensitive data without having to break your budget.

Even if you don’t continue once the demo is complete, you’ll see where your firm is currently, where you want to be, and how to get there during your 90 days for free.

If you’re using AI tools at your firm, we’re also offering a free webinar on July 16 about how to equip your team and serve your clients better through secure and compliant use of legal-specific AI tools.

As a legal professional, we know you have a lot of casework to do, and we’d be honored to help you use these world-changing new technologies without sacrificing the security of the data that your clients trust you to protect.

Article By Mike Brimberry
Mike is the Director of Cybersecurity at Model Technology solutions. Mike has over 20 years working experience for large and small organizations in service desk, endpoint management, data center, cloud, Cybersecurity, IT leadership and service delivery. He loves to travel, cook, listen to beach music, and he's a self-proclaimed Disney expert in addition to his numerous other areas of expertise. He currently lives in southern Illinois with his wife and 5 kids.

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