An important question to ask before hiring an attorney is: “What are you doing to protect my private information?”
It is the nature of our work that attorneys need to ask clients for a lot of sensitive data. The information we need to collect in order to represent our clients varies with the case and the client, but virtually every case deals with some type of confidential information. Whether it’s your social security number, account information, a secret business deal, or evidence in a civil or criminal lawsuit, you need to be able to trust that the information you provide to your attorney will be protected.
As more and more legal offices take advantage of email, cloud storage, and other technology in their practices, data security becomes even more critical. But even if your attorney is still using paper files and only uses her computer for word processing, security is an important issue.
So what is your lawyer doing to make sure that your information is secure?
Sensitive data like social security numbers shouldn’t be sent via email unless the file is encrypted or password protected. Wireless networks must be password protected. Laptops and desktop computers should also be password protected, so that unauthorized users can’t access your lawyer’s files, especially if the computer is stolen. In my opinion, a lawyer’s computer should not only be password protected but fully encrypted – including on-site and off-site backups and data storage. Online services used to collect, store, or share information also need to be secure, including online forms and case management services.
So ask your lawyer, “What are you doing to protect my confidential data?” If your lawyer looks blank or doesn’t have a good answer for you, it might be time to find a new one.