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COVID-19 is scary. The impacts and outcomes are far from certain.

We may be looking at a case of the devil you know is worse than the devil you don’t. Top legal decision makers are staring at key issues causing sleepless nights—not including coronavirus. They must be serious. And you can help. I will discuss each below:

Cybersecurity/Data Privacy Is Tops for the 2nd Year in a Row

The twin demands of GDPR and CCPA beat all. Clients are acutely aware they are subject to these requirements even if they think they have no material business in either jurisdiction. Clients without direct exposure expect either their customers or their supply chain, distributors, and customers to show proof of compliance. Everyone is worried about direct, indirect, or vicarious liability.

These same clients are equally worried about individual states passing copycat legislation based on CCPA—making compliance virtually impossible on a national and international scale. And, there is the ever-present worry of breaches and hacks.

Risk is high, cost of failure is high, and regulations are new, evolving, and growing. At the same time, clients say there just aren’t enough experienced attorneys to help them through—this is and will be a core need.

You can learn all the details—and the 109 law firms leading this market—in BTI’s about to released report, BTI Cybersecurity & Data Privacy 2020: Leading-Edge Insight & Strategy for Law Firms, detailing clients’ needs, priorities, and expectations of law firms and singling out the law firms best in 7 key areas of cybersecurity/data privacy. Click here to learn more.

Regulatory Pressure

The regulatory sky is falling.

We couldn’t find an industry where these clients didn’t see changing, new, evolving, or reinterpreted regulations in some material part of the business. The biggest concerns are rooted in workplace issues, data privacy, financial disclosure, approvals for products and infrastructure, and a host of industry-specific issues. Again, almost no industry is immune.

The regulatory-induced insomnia comes from the difficulty in defining compliance requirements with precision due to policy changes at the agencies involved—or they come from areas where compliance requirements are unclear or undeveloped.

Top legal decision makers believe the rules have changed or they are flying in the dark because there is no guidance. We recommend every law firm put their regulatory specialists in front of the relevant clients to talk things through. You will provide some peace of mind—and are likely to pick up new business.

Workload/Less Staff

All but the very largest clients have fewer in-house attorneys than last year, making this the 2nd drop in headcount in as many years. Clients have fewer resources as they face more complexity and the new burdens from COVID-19. Clients either can’t hire at all or can’t hire fast enough. They are looking to reduce bottlenecks. Some ideas include:

  • Loaned staff at reduced rates

  • Non partner track attorneys

  • Contract attorneys through their law firms

  • Using consultants instead of attorneys—especially in labor and cybersecurity/data privacy

  • AFAs for taking on all the work in certain areas

Being Blindsided

Last year was the first time I have ever heard a top legal decision maker talk about being blindsided as a source of insomnia. I heard it again this year—but only about ½ as much. The cumulative impact and seemingly unpredictable nature of data privacy regulations, broader regulatory issues, and the emergence of the coronavirus set up a confluence of factors where even the smartest person in the room can be blindsided.


Top legal decision makers are currently assessing the impact and full meaning of the COVID-19 situation. Few are losing sleep over it, unless they are working nights due to the extra workload the outbreak creates. This only fuels the workload issues I discuss above.

As is so often said in Mission: Impossible

Your mission should you decide to accept it: make sure your clients aren’t blindsided and sleep better at night. You have the best training in the world—you have the power to do this.

To more sleep for clients and more business.

Be safe and healthy.


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