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🦹‍♂️ A&O's cyber breach


In today’s email:

  • Is your cat chattel?

  • Our first ever merch

  • Paul, Weiss’ juicy deal

  • Milbank NQs rake in the cash

  • Watch the sunset any time of day

  • Chambers and Partners gets sold

  • Get commercially aware worldwide

  • An experiment with a million monkeys

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

Law firms, with their wealth of sensitive client data, are increasingly becoming targets for cybercriminals — and cyberattacks can severely damage the firm's reputation. To minimise these risks, they need to strengthen their defences, train employees, and consider innovative strategies like outsourcing data storage.


I’m super excited to share with you our first ever LittleLaw merch!

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🔈️ Quick shoutout — I want to thank Oksana Stuart for sharing the newsletter this week 🙏 


🦹‍♂️ A&O's cyber breach

What's going on here?

Allen & Overy (A&O) has suffered a cyberattack on its systems.

What does this mean?

Magic Circle firm, A&O confirmed it had faced a cyber security incident impacting several storage servers. The firm is now finding out exactly what data has been impacted and informing affected clients.

Who’s behind the attack?

Hacking group Lockbit said they were behind the attack.

Lockbit is a cybercrime gang that coerces its victims by stealing and releasing their internal data online unless a ransom is paid. Named the world's top ransomware threat by seven countries, including the UK, Lockbit has been on a spree targeting high-profile corporations including Britain's Royal Mail in January and aerospace giant, Boeing in October.

The group’s allegedly given A&O until 28 November to pay up the ransom.

What other law firms have been hit by cyber attacks?

This isn’t the first time law firms have been the target of cyber attacks. Just this year, Kirkland & Ellis, K&L Gates, Proskauer and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner were targeted.

A&O will certainly not be the last victim either.

Why do hackers target law firms?

Law firms have significant amounts of sensitive data about their clients — like corporate information, medical records, trade secrets, and M&A information. Because of how sensitive these are, hackers hope to extort a bigger ransom out of the victim.

How do you prevent these things from happening?

“Nobody is immune” — those are the words of Zach Olsen, president of communications firm Infinite Global.

So, there is no 100% prevention strategy. But there are things firms can do (and will be doing) to minimise the risk of these breaches:

  1. 🔒️ Regular security audits and assessments: This includes reviewing policies, systems, and procedures to ensure they are up to date with the latest security standards.

  2. 🔒️ Employee training and awareness programs: This includes awareness about phishing attacks, proper password management, and the secure handling of sensitive client data.

  3. 🔒️ Implementing advanced cybersecurity technologies: Utilising advanced security solutions like multi-factor authentication, encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems.

  4. 🔒️ Data access control: Limiting access to sensitive data to only those who need it can help mitigate the risk of internal breaches.

Some commentators are proposing a shift in how law firms hold sensitive data, suggesting firms should outsource data storage to specialist organisations. Due to strict regulation and risk, law firms rarely handle client money nowadays — they outsource it to agents. So, perhaps law firms could reconsider their approach to holding client data in the same way.

What’s the big picture effect?

The SRA has warned that law firms’ growing reliance on IT following the pandemic has created more opportunities for cybercriminals.

The result of cyberattacks can be substantial and far-reaching, even when they don’t succeed. The impact includes:

  • 💔 damage to client relationships and the firm’s reputation,

  • 😰 stress and pressure on the firm’s staff, and

  • 💸 higher insurance premiums.

The nature of the data law firms hold means they’ll always be a target for cyber criminals. Firms need to do what they can to minimise these risks, have an incident plan for when a breach happens and perhaps even consider radical changes like outsourcing data storage.


Commercial awareness isn’t just limited to UK borders

How can you keep up with the stuff happening all over the world… all the time?

Well, International Intrigue can help you stay on top of the world from inside your inbox.

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  • 🌍 Milbank, a major US law firm, has raised their newly qualified (NQ) lawyers' pay to a staggering $225,000 annually. This amount converts to about £183,409 in London, making it the highest NQ salary worldwide. This increase follows previous hikes in 2021 and 2022. However, aspiring lawyers at Milbank, which employs 200 lawyers in London and recruits just seven trainee solicitors annually, should expect for long working hours.

  • 📈 Chambers and Partners (the leading legal rankings platform) has been acquired by US investor Abry Partners for over £400m. The seller, UK private equity firm Inflexion, boasted a 4.7x return on its investment since acquiring Chambers in 2018. Chambers, famous for its law firm and partner rankings in 200 jurisdictions, has undergone significant digital transformation under Inflexion's ownership. This includes expansion in Brazil, China, and the US, where it now generates a third of its bookings. Abry Partners, with interests in legal businesses like Best Lawyers and US Legal Support, sees this acquisition as a perfect fit for its growing portfolio.

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  • 🔍 The UK legal community is buzzing with the introduction of a new bill set to reaffirm London as a top destination for international arbitration. Announced in King Charles's speech to parliament, the Arbitration Bill aims to modernise the 1996 Arbitration Act. It promises clearer arbitration laws, stronger court support, and quicker dispute resolutions. The bill's key updates include powers for arbitrators to dismiss baseless cases, codifying impartiality in arbitrations, and simplifying challenges to arbitral awards. The bill is seen as an evolutionary step in strengthening the UK's position in international arbitration, with widespread support from the legal community.


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