Keeping legal documents confidential

Keeping legal documents confidential

Every solicitor is bound by laws of professional conduct and confidentiality agreements to prevent unauthorized disclosure or access to information regarding their clients. However, it’s not just the attorney who needs to follow this crucial aspect of client confidentiality. Every element in the legal chain must ensure confidentiality in how they operate sensitive data.

What comprises confidential documents?

All documents concerning work products, attorney-client communications and trial prep are regarded as sensitive and classified. In addition, instances of sensitive data may also include financial records, compensation claims, medical records, HIPAA information and the like. Other than client information that must be kept secure, management must also ensure that all pieces of law firm data are securely maintained. This could comprise federal and state documents, immigration forms and information concerning investigations, disciplinary actions, background checks of potential recruits, and other matters in the interviewing, performance reviews and termination procedures.

It can be exorbitantly expensive to address and cover privacy law violations. For instance, noncompliance with HIPAA penalties is dependent on the level of negligence. Hence, they could range from anywhere between $100-$50,000 per record or violation with maximum penalties of $1.5 million annually on violations of identical provisions.  Privacy law violations can also carry criminal charges with the likelihood of prison time.

Issues concerning confidential documents

Almost every organization today may have experienced some form of a data security breach. When consumers bring their personal devices into the mix, the need to maintain confidentiality in law firms becomes even more significant. The following are some ways law firms can address confidentiality:

  • Controlling access by restricting documents with passwords, firewalls and DLP systems.Unfortunately, all of these systems have their weaknesses – traditional forms of restricting access is no longer valid, especially when it comes to maintaining confidentiality outside of the office perimeter.
  • Storing in secure document cabinets. Certain confidential documents cannot be shredded or destroyed and must be maintained indefinitely. For instance, estate planning documents and wills must be secured so that they cannot be altered.  However document storage cabinets are prone to theft, pilferage, insects, natural calamities etc. Hence, it can be unwise to store long-term legal documents in physical cabinets that do not offer complete security.
  • Educating staff. Educating employees at legal firms on how to protect confidentiality is essential. However, it does not guarantee success. For instance, even if a legal firm trains its staff on the practical characteristics of protecting legal documents through secure passwords or destroying confidential documents thoroughly, there is no assurance that a data breach will not take place.

All the steps mentioned above are some of the best practices legal companies adopt to protect their clients and employee privacy against possible security data breaches. However, none can keep confidential data secure when it needs to be shared among parties.

PDF DRM: the only solution to securing the confidentiality of legal documents

A PDF Digital Rights Management system [DRM] is the only proven method of keeping legal documents safe, ensuring PDF files are not modified, copied, or unknowingly and illegally shared with third parties. 

With a PDF DRM solution, you can:

  • Control the usage of documents.
    PDF DRM software can help you determine how legal documents are viewed, by whom and how they are used. Confidential information cannot be altered, shared, printed, copied or modified in any manner without your permission. Through PDF DRM, you gain complete control of the document even after a file has been downloaded or shared with the intended user.
  • Track activity. 
    The ability to view the entire transmission of the legal document gives you powerful insight into how users are interacting with the record. For instance, you’ll be able to know if inappropriate or illegal activity is being carried out and prevent access if this occurs. This can be a tremendous benefit when keeping legal documents private and secure.
  • Revoke permissions at will.
    When a legal document or file is shared digitally, you may have no control over what the user does with it. With PDF DRM, you can add and remove user access at any time. You can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive documents automatically after a certain period of time.

By using PDF DRM to protect legal documents you can:

  • Prevent unauthorized access
  • Prevent users from making copies
  • Stop unauthorized sharing
  • Control how long content can be accessed for
  • Disable or control document printing
  • Track document usage and more

Conclusion

An advanced PDF DRM solution will enable you to safeguard your legal firm’s sensitive and confidential data regardless of how and where they are stored.  PDF DRM enables you to stop unauthorized sharing and prevent data leakage.  If you need to gain complete control over the confidential documents in your legal organization then PDF DRM is the solution for you. Get rid of old and archaic methods of document security such as password protection, document storage cabinets and other solutions that are no longer relevant in today’s digital age and switch over to PDF DRM for complete peace of mind in keeping legal documents confidential.

You might also like our TUTEZONE section which contains exclusive tutorials on how you can make your life simpler using technology.

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About the Author: Ranjit Ranjan

More than 13 years of experience in web development projects in countries such as US, UK and India. Blogger by passion and SEO expert by profession.