Law firm data security is an important aspect for businesses operating in the legal sector.
As a law firm you need to be smart about data protection and take the appropriate precautions to protect your client’s sensitive information.
The large number of personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, client correspondence and intellectual property that law firms hold, makes it a mandatory requirement for them to take data privacy seriously.
Law firms are entrusted with highly confidential information about their clients, and they must at all times ensure that this data is safe. Lawyers must maintain attorney-client privilege which means that any information a client shares with the attorney must remain confidential.
Email is every company’s lifeblood and also, it’s the riskiest communication channel.
A report by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office states misaddressed emails as one of the prominent causes of a data breach.
IT leaders in the legal fraternity are increasingly worried about someone accidentally leaking confidential information in their firm either through wrongly addressed emails or insider threats.
Clients expect law firms to protect and safeguard their personal information from being emailed to unintended recipients.
Here are some of the main regulations that affect law firms:
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a data protection law that first went into effect on the 25th of May 2018.
The law aims to give consumers control over how businesses handle their personal data. It’s a legal framework that sets the rules for collecting and processing personal information of persons who live in the European Union (EU) and those outside of it.
Regardless of where your business is based, if your business deals with data of individuals from the European Union then you need to be compliant with GDPR.
The GDPR is one of the toughest regulations and if your business is found to be non-compliant, regulators would impose hefty fines on your firm.
Why should Law firms care about the GDPR?
Article 5 of the GDPR regulation dealing with integrity and confidentiality states that:
Information must be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorized or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction, or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.
The controller of the data must ensure that data is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.
For law firms to fully comply with GDPR they must ensure their organization has appropriate technological security measures to prevent their employees from sending highly confidential information to the wrong person.
American Bar Association Rule
Rule 1.6 states that lawyers must ensure the confidentiality of information. The law states that:
A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent.
The law also goes on to say:
A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
This makes it evident that those who practice law must have procedures in place that stop human error-induced data breaches on email.
Who does this law affect?
The American Bar Association rule affects law firms operating in the United States. Failure to comply with ABA’s rules can result in sanctions being imposed on your lawyers or the firm. The following sanctions can result:
- Disbarment by the court.
- Suspension by the court for an appropriate fixed period of time not in excess of three years.
- Probation imposed by the court
- Reprimand by the court or the board
- restitution to persons financially injured, disgorgement of all or part of the lawyer’s or law firm’s fee, and reimbursement to the client security [protection] fund
- Limitation by the court on the nature or extent of your future practice.
No lawyer or law firm would want to deal with such negative consequences just because someone attached the wrong file or sent a confidential email to the wrong person.
As a business, it is your role to empower your employees to work securely without hindering their productivity (more on this later).
The Solicitors Regulation Authority- Rules of Professional Conduct
The Solicitors Regulation Authority regulates all solicitors and legal firms in England and Wales. The SRA Code of Conduct for solicitors and law firms applies to your conduct and behavior relating to your practice. It compromises of a set of framework for ethical and competent practice which applies irrespective of your role or the environment or organization in which you work.
As a law professional, you are personally accountable to ensure compliance with SRA regulatory requirements.
Section 6.3 on Confidentiality and disclosure states:
You must keep the affairs of current and former clients confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or the client consents.
Section 6.5 further states:
Effective measures should be taken which results in there being no real risk of disclosure of confidential information.
This implies that under the SRA’s code of conduct, you must implement measures in your organization that prevent data breaches caused by human error on email.
SendGuard for Outlook is a governance, risk and compliance solution for outbound emails that prevents users from sending highly sensitive emails to unintended recipients. SendGuard would be a nice addition to your law firm data protection toolset.
How SendGuard helps you achieve Law Firm Data Security?
Regardless of whether data privacy laws such Europe’s GDPR apply to your firm or not, we all can agree that law firms need to protect their client’s confidential data.
SendGuard is specifically designed for law firms and other businesses sending potentially sensitive or confidential information by email. It helps you meet law firm data security requirements by preventing data breaches involving personally identifiable information (PII).
SendGuard for Outlook is a leading solution that alerts users on both the Desktop and OWA, so your business stays compliant with regulations required by your industry/customers and protected from the risks and costs of emails sent to the wrong people.
We understand how difficult it can be to stay compliant with international, national, or industry-specific data privacy regulations when it is easy so easy for Outlook users to accidentally send emails and attachments to unintended recipients.
Best of all, unlike competitors, our team can quickly configure the rules engine for any special checks or actions that your business needs for outgoing emails.
SendGuard is optimized for user experience without changing how you work in Outlook. You can do your work without security getting in the way.
With regular expressions, you can detect personally identifiable information or any other structured data pattern. You can easily build your own DLP rules to scan the email body and attachments for sensitive keywords.
Law firms and legal professionals have the duty to protect the confidentiality of email communications to ensure that human error does cause an email data breach.
And SendGuard helps you to fulfill that responsibility.
If you want to find out how SendGuard can help your law firm to protect sensitive client data, satisfy regulatory requirements, meet customer confidentiality agreements and upscale your email security- talk to our sales team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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