One not-so-fun fact: Through June 2018, there had been 668 data breaches reported which had exposed more than 22 million records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. The report illustrates the breadth of industries and individuals that data breaches can impact. But for law firms, what does this mean when trying to gain client trust?
Because law firms handle sensitive information about clients, they are especially susceptible to breach attempts. The importance of maintaining client privacy and attorney-client privilege cannot be understated. At times, doing so seems almost impossible, especially without the right tools.
Here are four tips that can help:
1. Can't Talk? No problem. Read.
Smartphones make it easy for clients to reach their lawyers at any time, which can be beneficial — but also intrusive. Law firms often struggle to handle client needs in real-time, and answering calls in public might mean compromising client privacy.
But using visual voicemail and transcription features can eliminate the need for answering client calls in public, and might even help gain client trust. How? Rather than answering an incoming call in public and possibly compromising client privacy, the recipient can simply allow the call to go to voicemail. The client leaves a message and then the recipient is emailed a transcript and an audio file of the voicemail, making it quick and easy to check if a client need is urgent while ensuring the lawyer never misses a call.
Such features help protect the client's privacy while also allowing the lawyer to efficiently prioritize client needs. Having a transcribed version of a client call means that lawyers can easily forward files to their partners through email or team messaging features, ensuring members of a legal team stay connected and that client information stays in the right hands.
2. Data Protection: Layer It!
One approach to gaining client trust is to adopt layers of data protection at your firm. Much like dressing for a hike on a day that might bring rain, chilly breezes, and humid heat, each layer of data protection brings a different strategy that will help keep data insulated and safe.
One layer is a mobile device management platform. With smartphones being among the most frequently lost items, data stored on these devices is also at risk for potential loss or theft. A mobile device management platform puts both lawyers and clients at ease, allowing law firms to remotely — and immediately — wipe a device considered lost or stolen. It also allows lawyers to integrate business applications on their mobile devices, accessing client information in a secure and efficient manner.
A second data protection layer is password management. Given the amount of client information lawyers store in various applications and password-protected files, firms use a significant amount of their daily time logging into programs and apps. Password managers streamline this daily process and keep passwords secure by generating and storing complex passwords, ending the days of hiding passwords on a sticky note under the keyboard.
A third security layer is two-factor authentication (2FA), which is a process whereby a service intercepts a login attempt and reaches out to the user via an SMS, voice, or push notification, requiring them to confirm their identity by inputting a unique verification code. Once the identity of the user is authenticated, she will be able to access data stored in a given application, email, or file management system. Two-factor authentication secures client information by protecting access to sensitive data and maintains client privacy by only allowing appropriate parties to access case data.
While the digital age presents challenges for maintaining attorney-client privilege, it also provides lawyers with tools to help deliver better client service.
3. VPN Services: Freedom of Movement
The internet has led to the rise of virtual law firms, which forgo the typical brick-and-mortar office. Smart move, as physical space requires the firm pay rent, utilities, and maintenance. The new office space? Many are opting for co-working spaces and some simply encourage working from anywhere with an internet connection.
Additionally, the digital age requires lawyers to often work outside the office and use public channels of communication. While this allows lawyers to conduct business and interact with clients from just about anywhere, it also means their communications and client data are subject to interception, especially if public Wi-Fi is used.
But VPNs, or virtual private networks, create a secure tunnel to the internet, encrypting the connection between a device and a given network. Because a VPN creates a protected gate between a device and the network, any information about a client or a case stored on a device or accessed through that device remains secure. Coupled with the security features above, connecting to a VPN protects client information and helps improve client privacy by reducing the risk of a data breach.
4. Private Data, Private Cloud Storage
Today's technology has made it easy to store client files and documents indefinitely — and to retreive them immediately — eliminating the need for rooms full of filing cabinets or even on-site servers. Private cloud storage services protect case and client data, while making the process of accessing such information more efficient and secure.
Private cloud services securely store data, from phone call recordings to emails and all client-related documents, while allowing lawyers to access the data from wherever, and whenever it's needed, whether that's on a Monday morning or the midnight before opening arguments. Cloud storage increases both productivity and security, as they provide strategic storage that can be set to regularly and automatically back up data.
While the digital age presents challenges for gaining client trust, it also provides lawyers with tools to help deliver better client service. If you're wondering how to build that relationship with clients, use these tips. You'll be ahead of the game, and your clients will appreciate it.