As the massive Equifax hack continues to reverberate around the country—including with the ouster of its CEO this week—companies everywhere are feeling vulnerable to data breach risks. That’s no surprise to Akerman partner Jeffrey Sharer, whose Miami-based firm launched a web-accessible portal 18 months ago that capitalizes on expanding data breach fears.
The Akerman tool gives current and potential clients automated, updated state-by-state data-breach and cybersecurity law information—intelligence that they otherwise would obtain through pricey, hourly rate-based research.
“We have yet to have someone decline a meeting and not see a demonstration,” said Chicago-based Sharer, who co-chairs Akerman’s data law practice.
Akerman lawyers developed the tool on a speculative basis with project partners from Neota Logic and Thomson Reuters. Since its introduction in late 2015, Sharer and his team have met with more than 80 companies, mostly from the Fortune 250, to demonstrate its abilities, according to Sharer, who spoke about the tool at a conference on legal industry innovation earlier this month.
The web tool hasn’t yet racked up sizable revenue for Akerman because the firm introduced it on a trial basis, and has only begun to charge subscriptions. Those subscriptions are tiered, based on a subscriber’s expected use of additional attorney consultation.
Clients who use only the web tool can print out research conclusions based on the data that are labeled as “Akerman’s legal advice.”
The technology can save clients up to 80 percent on research, compared with the hourly rate models typically associated with the same work, the firm has said.
As Akerman tried out its tool with clients and prospective clients, it also began to develop the idea of establishing a working group model for tackling data-related problems.
“What we are calling the ‘consortium approach’ brings together a group of clients that have a common need, under a coordinated engagement, to develop that solution that no client would undertake alone. The result is that we are able to build a solution that otherwise likely would not exist, bring down significantly the cost for each client and, at the same time, receive real-time input and feedback from multiple clients during the development process,” Sharer wrote in an email.
Both his firm and the clients expect the web tool and the consortium approach to continue developing additional applications, Sharer wrote. Clients are already asking for the web tool to be expanded to jurisdictions in the European Union and the Asia-Pacific region, he added.
“We are also hearing strong interest in extending this concept to address clients’ needs for legal advice related to the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation, as well as global records retention programs and other practice areas such as labor and employment, financial services, and health care,” he wrote.