#Cybersecurity can give your legal career a boost - part 2

Written by:  Lee Holcomb

Growing cybersecurity needs are opening up the practice of law in exciting and challenging new directions. The right online cybersecurity courses and certifications will expand your career opportunities as an attorney, helping you learn new skills that can be incorporated into your current position or leveraged to build a new career.

If you’re considering a course in cybersecurity, do your research to determine which class or certification you should take. Deciding which course is the right one for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your current skill set, the type of position you are aiming for if you want to make a career change, and how much time and money you can dedicate to the training. For me, this decision was difficult; my mind was filled with questions, ideas, and concerns: Should I take a course in cybersecurity or get an online certification in privacy law? Which course or certification would be most suited for my experience and qualifications? I didn’t want to sink precious time and money into a course that was above my head or, even worse, didn’t really deliver what it promised.

After talking to colleagues and researching options, I still felt like I didn’t have the information I needed to make an informed decision, but I did my best to whittle down the playing field. I eventually decided to sign up for an eight-week online course with Harvard, titled Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age online short course. The following insights into the Harvard online course may help you decide if it would be a good fit for you.

What you can expect to learn: To practice law within the cybersecurity industry, you don’t need to be able to program and write code, but you do need to have some knowledge of how systems and networks work. The Harvard class gives you a working knowledge of the IT environment, including the hardware, software, and networks that are at risk in a corporate environment. The course also takes a comprehensive look at how you can educate your organization, including the c-suite and the board, to understand the importance of creating a holistic cybersecurity program and cyber risk management environment for the company.

The class description states that the course “equips students with a comprehensive understanding of how to identify and manage operational risk, litigation risk, and reputational risk. The course will help students assess and mitigate specific vulnerabilities within an organization’s networks, systems, and data in order to provide the knowledge and skills to protect the integrity, security, and confidentiality of their digital assets.”

To accomplish these objectives, the course thoughtfully examines some of the biggest cyber incidents in the past five years, looking at how the attacks occurred, the reason behind the attacks, and what could have been done to prevent the attacks or limit the damage. The materials and assignments give students a detailed understanding of the attacks and help students apply the lessons learned from these incidents to their own companies.

What the classes are like: The class is divided into eight weekly learning modules that consist of a course-wide discussion forum and unit lessons. Each module provides students with a variety of learning materials: access to course notes, course videos, links to outside education resources, quizzes, and a small group discussion forum where you are tasked with discussing specific questions within your smaller group of identified classmates. 

How much time you need to commit: This is an 8-week online course. Each week required between 10 to 20 hours of participation for me to complete the online videos, participate in the online discussions, and read the materials and articles. This course is designed for working professionals so 98 percent of the assignments can be completed on your own schedule, as long as you complete each week’s assignments within the one-week timeframe. With some time management skills, you should be able to complete this course without difficulty. Note that there are some fairly heavy-lifting writing assignments that require you to review materials and then prepare a thoughtful response. For me, I preferred to attack these when I had plenty of time on my hands rather than leaving them until the last minute.

How tech-heavy I found the curriculum: Although I was initially concerned this course might prove to be too technical for me, I found the content manageable and can recommend it to attorneys without technology or computer training in their background. The curriculum currently includes a few more technology-heavy modules that required additional time and effort for me to complete; these, however, were balanced out by other modules geared towards attorneys that I found less demanding.

What I was disappointed by: I expected that there would be more online interaction via live course instruction, yet the reality was that most of the class work involved written materials or video instruction. For a fairly hefty price tag, I expected more direct connection to a teacher. 

What I was pleasantly surprised by: The unexpectedly strong networking opportunities were a plus. I was pleased to find that the course facilitated my connection with other like-minded professionals in the cybersecurity industry around the world, through things like the weekly discussion forum and the ability to share your LinkedIn profile with classmates. For students living in larger cities, there is also the option to meet up in person. I now have connections across the US and the world with CEOs, CISOs, consultants, attorneys, and politicians that are working in the cybersecurity industry.

Was it worth it: Yes, the course was definitely worth the time and money. It gave me a wealth of information and resources to use in my career as an attorney.

Upon successful completion of the course you earn a certificate of completion from Harvard University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, in association with HarvardX. You will also walk away with a living cyber risk management/risk mitigation plan for your company. Even if I don’t go to work in the cybersecurity field, having a working knowledge of the industry and the challenges all organizations face from a cybersecurity and cyber threat standpoint is invaluable in this day and age.

You can access the course here: https://www.getsmarter.com/courses/us/harvard-cybersecurity-online-short-course.




Lee Holcomb