The study found that despite the known risks, 89% of the firms participating in the study share privileged information with clients via unencrypted email.
The survey also revealed that although respondents were aware of the risks, and wary of them, for 77% the only means of protecting their privileged communications with clients and each other was the use of a generic confidentiality/privilege statement at the bottom of email.
A few of those surveyed, 22%, said they use email encryption,14% utilized passwords to protect documents and 13% used a secure file-sharing site to share privileged and sensitive documents with clients. Shockingly, 4% of respondents said they take no measures at all to protect privileged information in the course of electronic transmission.
“There’s clearly a disconnect between expressed security concerns and measures law firms employ to protect their clients and themselves,” said Christopher Anderson, a senior product manager at LexisNexis, in a statement. “Relying on a mere statement of confidentiality when sharing privileged communications by email is a weak measure—and further it might protect the law firm but affords very little protection for the client,” he said.
Attorneys have a duty to competently represent their clients and to take measures to safeguard their client’s privileged and sensitive information. Law firms need to become technologically savvy, which at a minimum requires them to stay abreast of technology and proactively use it to protect their clients’ interest.