Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in (or a customer of) the legal business?

I am not an attorney by training but have been involved in the legal public policy realm for most of my career. This included working seven years on The Hill for the late Senator Arlen Specter, in legislative affairs at the Department of Homeland Security and teaching graduate courses both at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins.  Early on in my academic career I did study at the Hague Academy of International Law and have stayed close vicariously to trends in the legal world via my wife, an attorney who has worked both at law firms and in government.

What do you do for a living right now?

I am the Principal Market Growth Strategist for General Dynamics Mission Systems for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies. In this role I explore and identify trends and emerging products that can impact on security preparedness.  I am also Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University’s Applied Intelligence Program where I teach graduate courses on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity.

I have a deep background in marketing, government relations in both the public and private sector in cybersecurity, homeland security, and emerging technologies space. LinkedIn named me as one of “The Top 5 Tech People to Follow on LinkedIn” out of their 550 million members. I was named by Thompson Reuters as a “Top 50 Global Influencer in Risk, Compliance,” and by IFSEC as the “#2 Global Cybersecurity Influencer” in 2018. In both 2017 and 2016, I was named “Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year by the Cybersecurity Excellence Awards.

I am also a member of The AFCEA Cybersecurity Committee, a member of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Working Group, a Subject Matter Expert to The Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC), and an Advisory Board Member for The Center for Advancing Innovation. I also sit on several company boards of advisors.

Also, I am a founding member of the CyberAvengers that includes two prominent legal minds, Paul Ferrillo and Shawn Tuma what promotes hygiene and corporate governance in cybersecurity. (I recommend following the blogs of my fellow CyberAvengers  https://thecyberavengers.com/   Paul Ferrillo, Kenneth Holley, George Platsis, George Thomas, Shawn Tuma, Christophe Veltsos. They are a group of SMEs who address a combination of technical, legal, and policy issues related to information security).

Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?

From the outside looking in I see the legal world following the path of many other industries. This includes consolidation of practices, assimilating new and disruptive technologies, and being more competitive.  Also, law is becoming much more global as a result of the increasing connectivity of data and business. GDPR is a good example of how domestic law has had to confront the international legal implications of global compliance. As to direction, I think it is neither wrong or right but being forced to address new realities or an industrial era that lacks privacy, has data and IP at perpetual risk, and is influenced by the digital transformation of key industries such as health, financial, and transportation.

What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?

Since I teach and serve as a mentor, I am often called on to provide career advice.  This advice always includes getting real world experience either during your academic years or shortly thereafter. Interning and working on The Hill is a great learning experience for everyone to see how laws are made and to understand political discourse. Many government agencies and companies offer internships and fellowships that provide unique experiential insights are stepping stones to future opportunities. With law students, clerking is certainly a good option. From a perspective f the competitiveness of the market, my advice to students would be study very hard, get exceptional grades and go to the best ranked law school that might admit them.

How ready for change do you think the legal industry is?

I believe that many of the larger firms are adapting to new technologies and the rapidly changing global regulatory environments. It does take brining on resources, expertise and having the agility to make and act on directional decisions that include M&A and new policy. It also takes investment of funds and that is why some of the larger firms are better positioned than smaller or midsize ones. Also, because of the growing and encompassing social media landscape that has changed the paradigm on how we communicate, traditional branding and marketing of firm capabilities are no longer sufficient. I can envision the legal industry incorporating social media influencers and chief marketing officers like other industries are doing in the near future.

Is more – or different – leadership required? In what ways?

A different more tech-savvy, and digital marketing leadership will be required to reach new clients, promote capabilities, and especially to brand firms so they stand out for increasingly competitive services.

How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?

The inroads are already quite deep in areas of E-Discovery and legal research. More and more administrative functions are being automated at law firms. Eventually artificial intelligence will take the predictive and forensic analytics capabilities of addressing case history, precedents, and statistical likelihood of successful litigation to new levels. Already advanced computer data bases and access via smartphone communications and virtual meetings have changed the pace of practicing law.

Technology is having a major impact now on the legal industry and will exponentially grow in the coming digital transformation. The combined value of digital transformation — for society and the industry — could be greater than $100 trillion over the next 10 years, according to a new research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) The research, which is part of the Forum’s Digital Transformation of Industries (DTI) project, focuses on the “combinatorial” effect of digital technologies — mobile, cloud, artificial intelligence, sensors and analytics, among others.

Technological advancements certainly have been profound and impacting. Consider a short list of technologies that have been introduced into the marketplace in the last two decades: the MP3 audio format, flash storage, the mega search engine, Wi-Fi, multicore processors, big data, social media, smartphones, Bluetooth, virtual reality, connected vehicles, 5G, satellite imaging, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Renowned Futurist Dr. Michio Kaku characterizes the technological shift we are experiencing as moving from the “age of discovery” to the “age of mastery.” He characterizes it as  period in our history where we will be able to harness our technologies and control our destinies.

What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?

Cybersecurity! A primary requirement of the legal profession is to obtain data and explore evidence, access the implications of that evidence, and prepare accordingly to protect and serve the client.  Cybersecurity is integral for the profession to operate. Unfortunately, most law firms (and companies for that matter), lack the critical awareness, policies, and technologies to best secure the crown jewels. This jewels include private firm interchange, records, and especially privileged attorney client communications.

The risks to law firms are already very high. A 40-year law firm Mossack Fonseca, closed as a result of a data breach that revealed the Panama Papers. About two-thirds of law firms have experienced some sort of data breach, according to a 2017 cybersecurity scorecard from Logicforce, a LexisNexus company.

Law firms are also facing a daunting list of security and operational challenges that have been affiliated with emerging technologies: cybersecurity, privacy, encryption, connectivity, spectrum, block-chain, biometrics and quantum computing.

With the growing emerging technology challenges increasing risk to revenues and reputation, law firms should consider hiring cybersecurity professionals to augment their IT shops.  If possible, they should also explore brining in outside expertise from SMEs who understand the latest developments in technologies and compliance directives in the cyber ecosystem.  The growing amount of sophisticated phishing, ransomware, and DDoS attacks are challenging and outside help is becoming more of an imperative.


Wildcard questions:

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

My passion has always been astronomy and space exploration. I still have the response from Carl Sagan to a letter I wrote to him in high school about exploring educational and work in the field of exobiology (the study of life on other planets) . If I were young again I would have loved to pursue a career with NASA.

What would you like to be known for?

I have devoted my professional career to security, both homeland and cybersecurity. I would like to be known for being a forward-looking leader in the security world for evangelizing emerging technologies and being a significant contributor to the policy and ethical discussions of how we manage risk. What I have concluded from publishing over 200 articles, numerous speeches, and as working as a Subject Matter Expert is all areas of homeland security and cybersecurity, is that security outcomes really depend on a three tiered formula. 1) You need the innovation and expertise from the technical and engineering people in government and industry. 2) You need the business and policy perspectives to integrate management approaches and to commercialize technologies, and 3) you need evangelists to explore, communicate, and help provide vision for all connected to the internet to understand and meet the challenges of world of algorithms; x’s and o’s. I try to dabble in all three tiers, but focus primarily on evangelism.

What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?

I am a former Virginia powerlifting champion and won several meets when I competed almost two decades ago. I still enjoy working out and weightlifting although I do not go as nearly as heavy anymore on the weights!

What’s your favorite sports team?

The Cubs in baseball. The Bears in Football, and the Bulls in basketball.

What’s your favorite city?

Chicago, my original hometown. I am still an avid Chicago sports fan.

What’s your favorite food?

Italian food is my favorite. I am a foodie and run a LinkedIn group called “DC Foodies” that has over 3000 members.