Are Your Law Firm’s Confidential Client Emails Safe?

    Jan 23, 2018 9:31:00 AM Keeran Networks Law Firm IT, Security

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    Lawyers are in constant communication with their colleagues and clients, conversing about issues and case updates. Much of what is discussed is of a confidential nature. The content of these emails is intended only for the designated recipient.

    What would happen to your law firm if there was a security breach?

    A survey conducted by LexisNexis uncovered a huge disconnect between law firms, their everyday practices, and their underlying security fears.

    What do Survey Statistics Say?  

    This survey had a total of almost 300 respondents from more than 15 law practice areas ranging from litigation and general practice to family law. Seventy-seven percent of respondents identified as practicing attorneys with 73% of them working at firms with 10 or less attorneys.

    Maintaining client confidentiality has always been a priority for lawyers. Failure to do so can severely impact the reputation of the firm and lawyer. When asked about the possible outcome of having an unauthorized third party gain access to such communications, more than 80% said the possibility would be consequential or very consequential to their practice.

    However, an overwhelming majority of respondents disclosed that their primary method of communicating with clients or privileged third parties is through email. Ninety percent of law professionals do with almost three-quarters using it on a consistent daily basis.

    As you can see, many law firms believe a security breach would negatively impact their practice, but the majority of them use a form of communication that’s vulnerable to security breaches.

    Related: Law Firm IT: What You’re up Against and How to Make Sure You’re Protected 

    Protecting Your Law-Related Emails

    Some lawyers believe they are protected by the additional precautions they use. Among the forms of such protections are encrypting emails, including a confidentiality statement in the subject line, and putting a confidentiality statement in the body of the email.

    Confidentiality statements are a favourite form of protection, but encrypted email isn’t far behind. In law firms with 100 or more attorneys, 60% of respondents reported using this protection method. However, in solo and duo firms, that percentage takes a sharp dive. Only 28% of law professionals use encrypted email there.  

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    Are those methods enough to protect your email, though, or your clients?

    The majority of the survey respondents stated they depend on confidentiality statements in some part of their email communication to protect the information disclosed in it. That raises more questions. Do practices consider them a good way to protect sensitive information or do they do so to protect themselves?

    Using confidentiality statements merges with the duty to maintain client-attorney privilege and the obligation to protect confidential client information. Privilege isn’t something a lawyer can waive, but confidences, once sent into the black hole of the internet, are not safe even if a confidentiality statement is attached to it.  

    If law practices aren’t careful or protected enough online, a security breach can occur to the detriment of both the firm and the clients. To keep confidential emails strictly that—confidential—, more secure methods are needed. If you want to beef up your protection, give Keeran Networks a call. We provider IT services for lawyers, and we’ll ensure all your communication is kept under lock and key.

    *All stats and figures came from LexisNexus

    Keeran Networks

    Written by Keeran Networks