Eight and a half long years ago, I suggested that solo and small law firms share their security practices with clients as an added selling point for their practices. Of course, back in 2010, many solos and smalls hadn’t yet started using the cloud, email was still considered relatively secure and paper-less and virtual law firms were still largely a novelty. So my suggestion didn’t gain much traction.
Fast forward eight years and so much has changed. All law firms, including solos and smalls and particularly those that hold information on IP and client financial information – are vulnerable to cybercrime. Yet it’s unclear whether law firms have the ability to safeguard client accounts from breaches or fraud. At last week’s The Future Is Now Conference in Chicago, sponsored by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism Rich Lee , General Counsel at Civis Analysis spoke about the data security issues that lawyers confront every day. And he also suggested that lawyers take additional steps to disclose the protections that they have in place to inform clients and offer them reassurance that the firm takes client security seriously. Rich’s company provides that information in annual reports with the most recent available online here.
Most solo and small firms don’t need to provide this level of detailed technical information. But you may want to advise clients on the types of protections you use when (and if) your firm communicates by text or stores documents in the cloud and whether the firm has cybersecurity insurance. And lawyers should also post information to help save clients from themselves by explaining the risks of communicating with their attorney on gmail account at the office and looking for signs that their soon-to-be-ex-spouse might be monitoring their email.
Today’s clients want the convenience of using electronic tools to interact with their lawyers. Some lawyers are so risk averse that they won’t text or electronically transmit documents to clients for fear of a breach. But in the 21st Century, there are plenty of ways to use modern tools safely. If that’s what your firm is doing, why not let clients know so that you can choose your firm over one that hasn’t emerged from the stone ages.