The importance of secure file sharing for law firms

File sharing solutions are ubiquitous now. Run a search on Google (other search engines are available) and you’ll get pages of possibilities returned. Secure file sharing, secure file transfer, virtual data rooms, Google drives and every other imaginable solution.

Law firms understand they should be sharing files securely, but perhaps not why security is so important or what the prefix “secure” really means in terms of protecting a document and the data in it.

 

The way we were

In ye olden days, when you needed to share a file, you would create an email, handpick the recipients, attach your editable file and keep your fingers crossed it wasn’t too large to get through the fiber. Or, you would have grabbed a USB stick, popped your time and reputation on it and then placed it in the hands of a total stranger to courier across town on a motorbike. You wouldn’t have paid much attention to whether the method was secure, and you may have manually checked any changes that were returned against your original draft.

It’s easy to see the innate flaws in these outmoded ways of working and why secure file sharing ranks so highly on the IT agenda for most law firms. There are still, however, many firms that are taking absolutely no steps whatsoever to protect privileged client information via email, let alone other platforms.

Trust or bust

Secure file sharing is important because of the very nature of the work law firms are engaged on. Protecting a client and their confidential communications is rule #1 for any practitioner worth their salt. Law firms build their business and their reputation around trust. With the exponential increase in cyber threats and the risk posed by human error (or motorbike accidents), this trust can’t be put in jeopardy when exchanging documents using non-secure means.

Law firms use valuable resources to work on high-stakes client matters, so each document needs to be guarded with due care and attention. Third parties will have malicious interest in the contents of your document, from the words on the page to the metadata contained in the file. The sensitive information that’s accrued in one file alone could have the power to alter share-prices or reveal competitive intelligence.

It’s important to protect documents because of client confidentiality, because of the number of hours that will have been poured into them and because of the metadata they contain and its market-sensitivity.

What is secure file sharing or secure file transfer?

Assuming we aren’t sending high stakes documents via email or USB anymore, “secure” file sharing means using a bespoke repository that’s password protected and hosted in a secure data center – preferably keeping the data in-region i.e. European data kept in Europe, US data kept in the US and so on. It means that any parties are individually invited to attend a group and are authenticated before they are given access to any information. It means that before a file is shared or loaded onto a document management system it’s scanned for sensitive metadata, which is then flagged to the owner or removed in accordance with company policy.

Or secure file transfer could be the best option. This involves sending secure links via email to a "cleaned" document, rather than attaching the large or sensitive document to an email itself and hitting send.

None of these things are designed to get in the way of completing the actual job in hand or looking after the client. Security doesn't need to be a barrier to completing a document exchange. These security measures can be handled very quickly and efficiently through automation of the right solution, with security built in, and workflow doesn't need to be disrupted or slowed down.

In a very modern, tech-savvy world, law firms need the very best and most flexible solutions to securely share their files.

PS

Workshare has them by the way, secure file sharing and secure file transfer solutions I mean. More than 30million files have been exchanged using it so far (and you can try it for free): https://www.workshare.com/use-cases/secure-file-transfer