Client Privacy in an Increasingly Transparent World

By Taylor Burton Published on January 31, 2024

Estimated reading time: 4 Minutes

Remember the days we were cautioned not to use our full names online? Those days are long gone. Thanks to social media, our entire lives are now laid bare for the world to see. Your job history lives on LinkedIn. Your email and phone number are constantly passed around without your knowledge. Analytics gather data on who you are so they can target you with ads catered to your interests. Information is money. 

Client confidentiality is a vital pillar within the legal world. Alarmingly, total privacy becomes more of a distant dream with each passing day. Don't fret! There are still steps you can take to keep your client's privacy safe in this increasingly transparent world. Let's dive in together.

For an even deeper dive, register for our upcoming webcast/simulcast "Technology 101 for Legal Professionals - Basic Tech Skills & Info Every Lawyer Needs to Know." Every area of practice involves technology, making this CLE indispensable for lawyers everywhere. This three-hour program will address key topics such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, social media, and more! This is one you don't want to miss.

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Use secure technology. Everything is digital nowadays. It's convenient, but you must tread carefully when you have confidential information in hand. Ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to keep everything safe. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Monitor your accounts for unknown logins. Communicate with your clients and share files on secure platforms specifically made for law firms. Here's a blog post from Case Status on "The 6 Best Client Portals for Law Firms in 2023" to help you learn more.

Make sure you're always keeping your devices updated! An up-to-date device is more secure and operating at its full potential.

One last bit of advice--our devices are listening to us. They're constantly listening to hear the words "Alexa" or "Hey Siri" so that they can assist us, but they're also quietly gathering data and it's possible this could one day land you in hot water. Disable your phone's microphone access in order to prevent this. To learn more, check out this article by Surfshark.

Offer security awareness training for your firm. Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to steal money and information. They're even utilizing artificial intelligence to be more threatening and efficient than ever before. Stay one step ahead by investing in training programs that will teach your staff how to identify any attempts at a data breach. Everyone in your workplace needs to understand the importance of client confidentiality and how to uphold it.

Of course, PBI always offers the occasional course on valuable topics such as cybersecurity, avoiding scams, and so much more. See what's coming up here!

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Communicate with your client. It may seem obvious to you but take the time to communicate with your client the importance of keeping sensitive information private. Young people often turn to social media to vent, discuss highly personal issues such as their health, or to relay the tale of outrageous events--all to see those views shoot through the roof. Stress that social media is not the place to share case details.

Leave social media for your social life. There's no reason you should be posting about work on your personal accounts. Hold yourself and your firm to the same standards. Even if your social media accounts are private, even if you are speaking as generally as possible, it's still taking a step into dangerous, unethical waters. Keep the case between you and your client. It will demonstrate your professionalism and show them that you're taking their privacy seriously.

Back up your data. Make sure you have a backup literally backing up your data. If there is a breach or corruption of files, you won't lose everything in one blow or spend a great amount of time recovering. Keep the data safe and encrypted; encryption is the act of converting data into unreadable code to prevent unauthorized access. Only those with the key will be able to access it. Finally, make sure you're doing routine backups.

No matter what technology the world throws at us next, one fact will never change: client confidentiality means everything in a lawyer-client relationship. Make sure you're always striving towards ethical practices and professionalism so your clients know they can put their trust in you.