Client and case confidentiality is a key tenet of any law firm. The privilege of confidentiality fosters a bond of trust between attorneys and clients. You can improve the productivity of your law firm meetings in a simple yet effective way. There are three key steps law firms can take to ensure total client confidentiality in every corner of the firm.
Client confidentiality in law firms
Duties related to confidentiality, such as the attorney-client privilege, assure that clients are open and honest with their representation so lawyers can provide the best advice. Attorneys, of course, know not to discuss sensitive or privileged information regarding clients or cases in public places. However, the firm's offices, conference rooms, hallways, and reception desks are also hot beds for potential information leaks.
Here are the top three steps to take to ensure total client confidentiality at your next meeting.
1. Ensure all security settings in the firm’s software solutions are upheld
Cybersecurity extends beyond mitigating the risk of cyberattacks to safeguard client and firm information. As Chief Information Officer, you know the rise of technological services designed to optimize efficiency and provide better, more comprehensive service brings with it its own share of confidentiality challenges.
The information that could be available to a savvy hacker is not just privileged attorney-client-communications, but confidential client business information, case information, intellectual property, personally identifiable information, and even payment information. By now, firms are increasingly turning to new security standards such as two-step authentication, intrusion prevention tools, and encrypted email, USB drives, and laptops.
But your technological security can not stop there. You need to make sure security standards are also upheld by your software providers. There are three main things to be concerned about when selecting your supplier:
- Third-party affirmation through a recognized certification
- OWASP Top 10 Security Risks
- GDPR Compliance & DPA (Data Processing Agreement)
These key points will guarantee data security and privacy from your supplier. You can read more on safety precautions and how to tackle workplace security threats on the blog.
With meeting management and resource scheduling platforms such as AskCody, key security settings are applied and you can further customize for the security needs to match your firm. AskCody’s ironclad confidentiality settings extend from the Meeting Room Displays and Meeting Dashboards to the entire Workplace Central cockpit. Robust privacy settings ensure the complete anonymity of attendees and privacy of meeting subjects within the system without skimping on any of the benefits and convenience that AskCody’s one-click booking system offers.
Consider also your front desk check-in system. What standards and systems are in place to ensure the complete confidentiality of every client that walks through your firm’s doors? If they have to say their name aloud to a waiting room full of other clients, you are already breaking confidentiality within the first few feet.
A platform like AskCody Visitor Management lets clients securely check-in without speaking to the front desk staff at all. They can check-in, print documents, and alert their respective attorney that they have arrived with the push of a button right from their smartphone or a kiosk at the front desk. The Visitor Management system is directly integrated with the rest of the AskCody Meeting Management suite within Outlook and Microsoft 365 to ensure a seamless experience.
2. Extend confidentiality training to legal and non-legal staff
Everyone who walks the halls of your firm should be well-versed in confidentiality. Attorneys, clerks, paralegals, administrative assistants, and outsourced service providers must all be given some degree of training.
Almost everyone knows not to discuss cases or client circumstances outside the confines of the secure office, but that is just the beginning. Do all of your legal secretaries know how to address clients when speaking to or about them? Is every contractor aware of any firm standards on using clients' first versus last names? What one administrative assistant may think of as small talk could actually be a significant breach of trust for a client who requests complete confidentiality of their relationship with the firm.
Create standards for your firm that include the use of names, rules for email (resist the use of Reply All!), and the use of software applications such as Adobe and resource management platforms. Document them, and ensure they are available to every internal employee and external contractor who works at the firm.
3. If possible, go paperless
If your firm is still using paper files, there should be a procedure for handling every piece of paper. When possible, do not remove them from the office. Never leave paper files unattended in a conference room, front desk, car, or other shared office space. There should also be a disposal process in place with a professional paper shredder to ensure confidentiality even long after a case may end.
Going paperless removes a significant amount of burden from the storing, handling, and disposing of paper files. A robust cloud-based system is more secure and convenient. Documents can be easily and securely shared, accessed, and edited from anywhere on any device.
Keeping it confidential
It is your duty to keep it confidential. Failure to do so can seriously damage clients’ reputations, the outcome of cases, and the firm's long-term viability. Confidentiality must extend from rules of communication and conversation to the standards for planning and booking meetings. With the right tools at hand, you can guarantee your law firm is more secure without skimping on the technological solutions that make you a more modern, efficient law firm.