Buy Secure Email for Lawyers A lawyer must carefully protect his/her reputation and any sensitive information in email correspondence with clients. “Attorney-client privilege” protects “confidential communication between an attorney and client that constitutes a legal request for advice or is related to representation.” Electronic attorney-client communication through email, text messages and mobile devices must be protected using wise policies, encryption, software, and firewalls.
The American Bar Association (ABA) has published new rules for professional conduct regarding electronic communications. Cybercriminals are increasing their attacks on the World Wide Web using a variety of tricks. Internal private computer networks must be made secure. A larger problem is the use of less secure public Internet connections. Discovery requests are also an important issue concerning secure email for lawyers.
The United States versus United Shoe Machinery Corp (1950) decision set forth five parameters for the attorney-client privilege:
- 1) Client
- 2) Attorney
- 3) Exclusivity
- 4) Legal advice
- 5) Confidentiality
Under the law, attorneys must not disclose confidential communications between clients and themselves when legal advice is sought. This creates a more open environment in which the lawyer can consider all relevant facts during litigation.
Secrecy is also important in high-level negotiations where a data breach could lead to a loss of millions of dollars or worse. Information is power. Attorneys must tap into the strength of the anonymous, anywhere and anytime, World Wide Web while protecting themselves and their clients against theft of email correspondence.
FORMAL CONFIDENTIAL, FORMAL SENSITIVE AND INFORMAL EMAILS
Attorneys receive numerous emails, categorized as 1) Formal Confidential, 2) Formal Sensitive, or 3) Informal. The Formal Confidential email is protected under “Attorney-Client Privilege.” The Formal Sensitive email is important to the client and should not be disclosed to third parties. Informal email is less important. It is wisest to err on the side of caution to prevent any emails from falling into the wrong hands.
INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES, LAW FIRMS AND IN-HOUSE COUNSEL
An attorney running his own practice can control email access the most easily since most correspondence will be between himself and the client.
At a larger law firm, there may be more email correspondence with senior and junior partners of the firm.
When an attorney is “in-house counsel” for a business, he has both a legal and business role. The courts have designated that “attorney-client privilege” relates only to the legal function. Oftentimes, lawyers will collaborate on draft documents, employment contracts, and warning labels with many different parties.
ELECTRONIC DISCOVERY REQUESTS
During discovery, one side can subpoena the other side requesting all company emails regarding a specific client or case. Attorneys will seek to protect email correspondence under “attorney-client privilege.” Courts will determine the primary purpose of the email communication to see if it qualifies.
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION RULE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
On September 7, 2011, the ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 (a) stated that an attorney must not reveal information received from a client without consent and must take necessary precautions to protect electronic communications. These rules demand that attorneys take “reasonable care to protect the confidentiality of client information, including information contained in e-mail communications in the course of a representation.” Secure email for lawyers is a matter of professional conduct.
PRIVATE VERSUS PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS
The ABA recognized that public Internet access could “jeopardize the confidentiality of electronic communications between a lawyer and client.” Most people don’t realize that most libraries, cafes, or hotel Internet connections are not secure or encrypted. Wireless connections are especially vulnerable. Users share the same IP address and have their data mixed, so hackers can easily steal passwords and email messages.
PROFESSIONAL PROTECTION OF INFORMATION
Just like a doctor, attorneys are given access to highly sensitive private, financial, and health information. Even if the client fails to designate the sensitivity of the information, this fact should be understood. Access to this information is essential to a well-functioning court process. With this power comes the responsibility to protect this information.
CYBERCRIMINALS STEAL EMAILS
Cybercriminals know that there is a lot of information in email accounts. They will steal emails for financial, political, or legal gain. All email correspondence should be protected from unintentional disclosure.
Hackers use worms, rootkits, spoofing, and phishing schemes to steal passwords and emails. Like Barclays, Best Buy, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Target, Toshiba, and Walt Disney, large companies have had their emails stolen. Even the military had 90,000 email addresses stolen from Booz Allen Hamilton. Cybercriminals can even “reset passwords” on your email to prevent you from accessing your own account.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), from January to April 2011, 37% of the malicious identity attacks were on computer systems (up from 2010 figures of 17.1%). The ITRC breach report “discloses that over 286 million new threats were identified during 2010.” Cybercriminals are increasing their attacks due to the lucrative nature of sensitive data on the Internet.
Some law firms have been completely hosting their own content to fully secure their email services. In order to secure that service, they often create a website on their own domain name.
REPUTATION FOR PROTECTING CLIENT COMMUNICATION
An attorney spends a lot of time, energy, and money building up a solid reputation. One security breach can destroy a good reputation. After the fact is always too late.
Modern email systems require modern protections to protect confidential information. A bank doesn’t leave its money vaults open. A professional attorney must protect email communications.
Hackers and cybercriminals have the knowledge and technology to steal email information. Forethought, planning, and implementation of secure email for lawyers are essential.
SOLUTION FOR SECURE EMAIL FOR LAWYERS
Secure email for lawyers uses encryption and decryption. High-quality security email software protects against viruses, malware, and other attacks. A firewall is also necessary to protect the internal computer network of attorneys