High Volume: A Basic Encryption Strategy for Law Firms

Most lawyers have a general understanding of what encryption does.  (If you don’t, let me introduce you to Wikipedia.)  Nevertheless, most attorneys don’t feel like they have a comprehensive plan for managing encryption in their law firms, when it comes to sending secure files to clients and colleagues.  That leaves a lot of law firms feeling a little insecure.  But, there’s a simple strategy for managing encryption in law firms, that’s entirely based on the volume of files you need to encrypt.

If you don’t send out a lot of documents that need to be encrypted, you can use the built-in tools in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat to encrypt those documents.  Apply passwords, and then call the recipient with the password — don’t email it along with the document.

If you do send out a lot of documents that need to be encrypted, use an email encryption system that will allow you to manually encrypt certain emails and their contents, or to automate the process.  With an email encryption tool, you can set up specific encryption triggers (for certain data types, e.g. -social security numbers, or for specific state laws) that will alert the system to automatically encrypt an email and any attachments — you don’t need to encrypt documents anymore, because your email system will read the attachments and encrypt them for you, if necessary.  Recipients will be brought to a secure inbox (requiring a specific password that they will set), to access the encrypted materials.  Providers of email encryption software include Reflexion and ZixCorp.

If you use a law practice management system, most of these programs now include a client portal, through which you can send to clients and colleagues documents and notifications.  Since these client portals are part of your case management system, they’re encrypted just like the rest of the software.  And, recipients create a unique password to access what you share with them.

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If you’re feeling insecure about your law firm’s data security, we can help.

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.  To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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