The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which represents over 42,000 in-house counsel across 85 countries, recently released its ACC Chief Legal Officers (CLO) 2017 Survey which found that two-thirds of in-house legal leaders ranked data protection and information privacy as ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important.  In response to this growing concern, the ACC recently released “first-of-its-kind” safety guidelines to help “in-house counsel as they set expectations with their outside vendors, including outside counsel.” Firms concerned about facing these guidelines should review their cybersecurity risk management policies, procedures and practices [webinar].

The Controls

The Model Information Protection and Security Controls for Outside Counsel Possessing Company Confidential Information (“the Controls”) were developed in a joint effort between in-house counsel members of the ACC together with several law firms specialized in data security related issues. This joint effort signifies the importance of cohesion between in-house and outside counsel when handling sensitive corporate data.  “We are increasingly hearing from ACC members, at companies of all sizes, that cybersecurity is one of their chief concerns, and there is heightened risk involved when sharing sensitive data with your outside counsel,” said Amar Sarwal, ACC vice president and chief legal strategist.

The Controls address a broad range of data security related measures including: data breach reporting, data handling and encryption, physical security, employee background screening, information retention/return/destruction, and cyber liability insurance. Particular measures may be too burdensome under the circumstances, while the Controls as a whole may not be sufficient to satisfy applicable legal requirements such as the HIPAA privacy and security rules for business associates. Still, the Controls include a number of measures firms will have to consider carefully. For example, the Controls suggest that outside counsel be required to maintain

logical access controls designed to manage access to Company Confidential information and system functionality on a least privilege and need-to-know basis, including through the use of defined authority levels and job functions, unique IDs and passwords, [and] two-factor or stronger authentication for its employee remote access systems.

The Controls also would require outside counsel to be responsible for its subcontractors with access to confidential information, including by requiring those subcontractors to abide by the Controls. As for data breach notification, the Controls recommend a short time frame – under the Controls, outside counsel would be required to notify a client within 24 hours of discovering an actual or suspected incident.

It is the hope of the ACC that the Controls will serve as a “best practice”, standardizing the protocols companies implement when interacting with third-party vendors who may have access to sensitive corporate data, and ensuring that adequate protections are in place to prevent and respond to a data breach. Law firms should not be surprised to see these Controls, in one form or another, included in litigation and other guidelines mandated by their corporate clients.

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Photo of Joseph J. Lazzarotti Joseph J. Lazzarotti

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)…

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Trained as an employee benefits lawyer, focused on compliance, Joe also is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits practice group.

In short, his practice focuses on the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security, and management of data, as well as the impact and regulation of social media. He also counsels companies on compliance, fiduciary, taxation, and administrative matters with respect to employee benefit plans.

Privacy and cybersecurity experience – Joe counsels multinational, national and regional companies in all industries on the broad array of laws, regulations, best practices, and preventive safeguards. The following are examples of areas of focus in his practice:

  • Advising health care providers, business associates, and group health plan sponsors concerning HIPAA/HITECH compliance, including risk assessments, policies and procedures, incident response plan development, vendor assessment and management programs, and training.
  • Coached hundreds of companies through the investigation, remediation, notification, and overall response to data breaches of all kinds – PHI, PII, payment card, etc.
  • Helping organizations address questions about the application, implementation, and overall compliance with European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, in particular, its implications in the U.S., together with preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act.
  • Working with organizations to develop and implement video, audio, and data-driven monitoring and surveillance programs. For instance, in the transportation and related industries, Joe has worked with numerous clients on fleet management programs involving the use of telematics, dash-cams, event data recorders (EDR), and related technologies. He also has advised many clients in the use of biometrics including with regard to consent, data security, and retention issues under BIPA and other laws.
  • Assisting clients with growing state data security mandates to safeguard personal information, including steering clients through detailed risk assessments and converting those assessments into practical “best practice” risk management solutions, including written information security programs (WISPs). Related work includes compliance advice concerning FTC Act, Regulation S-P, GLBA, and New York Reg. 500.
  • Advising clients about best practices for electronic communications, including in social media, as well as when communicating under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) or “company owned personally enabled device” (COPE) environment.
  • Conducting various levels of privacy and data security training for executives and employees
  • Supports organizations through mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations with regard to the handling of employee and customer data, and the safeguarding of that data during the transaction.
  • Representing organizations in matters involving inquiries into privacy and data security compliance before federal and state agencies including the HHS Office of Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and various state Attorneys General.

Benefits counseling experience – Joe’s work in the benefits counseling area covers many areas of employee benefits law. Below are some examples of that work:

  • As part of the Firm’s Health Care Reform Team, he advises employers and plan sponsors regarding the establishment, administration and operation of fully insured and self-funded health and welfare plans to comply with ERISA, IRC, ACA/PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ADA, GINA, and other related laws.
  • Guiding clients through the selection of plan service providers, along with negotiating service agreements with vendors to address plan compliance and operations, while leveraging data security experience to ensure plan data is safeguarded.
  • Counsels plan sponsors on day-to-day compliance and administrative issues affecting plans.
  • Assists in the design and drafting of benefit plan documents, including severance and fringe benefit plans.
  • Advises plan sponsors concerning employee benefit plan operation, administration and correcting errors in operation.

Joe speaks and writes regularly on current employee benefits and data privacy and cybersecurity topics and his work has been published in leading business and legal journals and media outlets, such as The Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Bloomberg, The National Law Journal, Financial Times, Business Insurance, HR Magazine and NPR, as well as the ABA Journal, The American Lawyer, Law360, Bender’s Labor and Employment Bulletin, the Australian Privacy Law Bulletin and the Privacy, and Data Security Law Journal.

Joe served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith on the Missouri Court of Appeals.