Protecting your Law Firm’s Email Communications

Errant or intercepted confidential email communications can exact an enormous toll on your law firm, causing serious ethical problems. In one instance that made the headlines, an individual posing as presidential advisor Jared Kushner engaged in a public email exchange with an attorney from a firm that represents Kushner. In another well-publicized incident, a law firm accidentally disclosed secret investigations involving a major client by mistakenly emailing details about the inquiries to a Wall Street Journal reporter.

While high-profile situations like these examples are rare, law firms offer an inviting target to cybercrooks and pranksters engaged in phishing expeditions. When confidential data is stolen because a law firm does not conduct due diligence, the firm may be held liable for ethical violations. Suffice it to say, it is crucial that law firms who use third party utilities, such as case management software and document management platforms, understand the integration capabilities and security features when integrating with their firm’s email solution.

Following are some tips to prevent attorneys and support staff from sending misdirected email:

  • Conduct in-house tests to see which attorneys and staff members may be vulnerable by sending out phishing emails. Teach those individuals who respond by counseling them to avoid clicking on unfamiliar links.
  • Install an anti-phishing toolbar. These toolbars automatically run checks on websites and compare them to known phishing sites.
  • Use firewalls to provide buffer zones against cyber intruders. You should use both desktop and network firewalls.
  • Keep your antivirus software updated. Hackers devise new scams all the time, but highly flexible antivirus programs can prevent the latest schemes.
  • Keep your browsers up to date. Be aware that browsers often issue security patches to offer protection against emerging cyber threats, and these patches should be applied regularly.
  • Never attach privileged documents to emails. Instead transfer them to clients and members of your staff by using drop boxes or secondary accounts which are password protected.
  • Use contact auto-fill programs sparingly. Auto-fill technology fills in complete contact information after just a few characters are typed. This can result in emails being sent to recipients who have addresses which are like those of trusted sources.
  • Change your passwords frequently, and hacker-proof your passwords. You can make your passwords more cryptic by using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters when applicable.
  • Proofread your email before you send it. Make sure you have not accidentally typed in the wrong client’s email address.

Even the most sophisticated cyber security software cannot offer foolproof protection against human error. Make sure your attorneys and support staff use common sense prevention measures to avoid careless mistakes that can be costly to your firm. Law firms typical hundreds of emails daily, and keeping them organized can be a real chore. Needles Case Management Software is a solution that will give lawyers and law firms piece of mind when it comes to email integration and security. The Needles Mail Lists feature integrates with Microsoft Outlook, allowing information to be shared between the two programs seamlessly.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.