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Cyber Liability and Accountants: The Next Wave of Litigation

June 27, 2019

WSHB Partner Shea Presenting at CLM Cyber Conference

(Boston, MA). Accounting firms throughout the nation are privy to the most sensitive data for individuals and companies. Tax returns containing federal tax identification numbers, income and other incredibly personal and sensitive data rests on the servers of this group of professionals. Cyber risks are top of mind for those in the accounting industry, fueled by headlines of high-profile cracks in seemingly impossible cyber walls.

These issues and more will be discussed at length during the 2019 CLM Cyber, Management, and Professional Liability Conference at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel on July 12th 2019 at 10:25 AM. Lead by national thought leader Timothy Shea, a partner with the Seattle office of WSHB, this panel promises to be a conference highlight.

“Risk managers and general counsel know full well the damage both to reputation and the bottom line from cyber risks,” said Shea, a litigator with experience in the accounting and cyber realm. “While traditional concerns are the human resources records, HIPPA violations and the ransomware demands, financial records such as tax returns give everyone in this space pause.”

In a panel titled “Professional Liability: The New Frontier for Accountant Liability in the Age of Cyber Crimes,” Tim, alongside David Cole, Nick Graf (CNA Insurance), and Stan Sterna (AON), will dissect pivotal federal and state cyber regulations applicable to CPA firms regarding data security requirements and breach reporting. Understanding and ensuring compliance is ground zero for this industry, and serves as a springboard for what promises to be a spirited discussion on exposure for claims presented.

“When cyber breaches occur, many people fear identify theft and the myriad of consequences that brings,” said Shea. “The issues from a professional liability side of the coin do not stop with the identity theft, it hits serious issues of third party claims brought by a host of parties.”

Shea’s presentation will cover emerging risks from data breaches, derivative and investor claims arising from a data breach of a firm client, professional negligence claims by data breach victims, and state and federal enforcement actions amongst others. Explained Shea, “Those attending will leave with powerful risk management tools and best practices, but a greater understanding of the perils and pitfalls of this area of litigation.”

Tim Shea is a Partner in WSHB’s office in Seattle Washington. Mr. Shea’s practice emphasizes civil defense of professional malpractice, construction defect, product liability, and personal injury/wrongful death claims. He is a member of the Washington State Bar Association and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court of Washington in the Western and Eastern Districts.

About the CLM:

The Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) promotes and furthers the highest standards of claims and litigation management and brings together the thought leaders in both industries. CLM’s Members and Fellows include risk and litigation managers, insurance and claims professionals, corporate counsel, outside counsel and third party vendors. The CLM sponsors educational programs, provides resources and fosters communication among all in the industry. To learn more about the CLM, please visit www.theclm.org.

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