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Improving Lawyer/Client Confidentiality Under the ABA Rule 1.6

One of the most important rights attorneys guard in their legal practice is that of the attorney-client privilege. This is intended to protect the client regarding anything said in consultation either before, during, or after a trial or legal action, and implies that all matters are to be kept 100% confidential. The same privacy offered by phone or office visits should also be assured with electronic communications. Demonstrating your interest in maintaining confidentiality across all channels builds trust between yourself and your clients, and can pay you back many times in repeat business and referrals over the years.

THE ABA ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE (PARAPHRASED)

1) A lawyer must keep anything regarding a case confidential and must not reveal any part of the information the client told them in relation to a particular case or legal situation without informed consent.
2) The only exception to part 1 is if the attorney feels there is imminent danger to a person which would cause bodily harm or death to the client or others
3) to prevent crime or fraud against property or persons which would likely result in the financial harm of the client or others
4) In order to secure legal advice regarding the keeping of this ruling.
5) To establish a claim regarding a case the attorney was involved in, when it becomes necessary
6) When complying with a legal court order
7) To avoid or address issues regarding a conflict of interest with a client

FEW EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE

Attorneys must keep these exceptions in mind and use them only with careful consideration, and adhere to the Confidentiality Rule with few exceptions. Clients trust you with their inner most secrets and you are pledged to guard this information carefully as though it were your own, except in those rare cases when you are forced to comply with legal requirements of the court or in order to protect yourself or someone else from harm.

APPLICATIONS TO THE MODERN WORLD - THE INTERNET FACTOR

Increasing concern exists regarding this rule due to the fact that many legal businesses and attorneys are now online as well as having an office in the "real world." This increases the level of anxiety on the part of both clients and attorneys, due to the recent and ongoing hacking and security breaches which have been in the national media regarding reputable businesses whose security has been compromised, in spite of their best attempts to thwart it.

Lawyers want to make their services available online to clients via the internet, as this allows them more access to help from an attorney and allows them to contact an attorney faster than using traditional methods. The internet also allows for a new potential revenue stream in online consultations.

THE PROBLEM

The problem with this is that, while it gives clients more access to lawyer confidentiality-based help and communications when they need it via the internet, it increases liabilities regarding the client-attorney privilege (Rule ABA 1.6). Therefore, many attorney sites have resorted to allowing only generic information, such as the client's contact information, legal questions of a general nature unrelated to a client's potential legal situation, or other non-revealing facts about a potential case. This is sound practice in that it prevents unestablished attorney-client relationships from developing before an agreement has been made, thus helping to avoid malpractice situations. Once a client-attorney relationship has been established, however, there needs to be a centralized and secure manner of sending and keeping track of electronic communications in a manner that's easy-to-use for the client..

THE SOLUTION: WORDSECURE

What is needed is a secure messaging solution which guarantees that no one can read their message to their attorney, which increases trust in the attorney. Increasing trust means repeat business for your law firm. You need a system which guarantees the reliability of a secure website or portal, which the client knows will never be compromised by third parties who accidentally get their hands on sensitive information regarding a legal case or problem.

WORDSECURE works by providing a secure encrypted web page which is developed just for attorneys and clients to log into to exchange information, messages, and attachments without the fear of confidentiality issues or security. You do not have to download any special software, or install or configure anything. You simply need an account and a password setup ahead of time to communicate and it works with any web browser and platform!

This is great news for attorneys everywhere and WordSecure allows you to talk to clients in a private environment without the fear of disruptions, security issues, or insecure connections. The technology behind WordSecure provides a sound option for the exchange of information and a way to discuss problems on an "as needs" basis, in an emergency, or even from a mobile device, rather than always having to set up an appointment in the real world and wait until the day of the appointment to meet to discuss the issue with your client.

This whole system is designed to make things not only secure but more efficient, as the process of information gathering, research, and consultation can happen within a much shorter window due to the increased level of communication between the attorney and client and the immediacy of the internet.

HOW WORDSECURE HELPS YOU

Secure Compliance with ABA Rule 1.6
  • Complies with the ABA Rules of Confidentiality
  • Live, US-based customer support, M-F 9am-5pm MT
  • Allows sending and encrypting of attachments
  • Tracks billable online interaction with clients
  • Increases confidence between client and attorney
  • Gives clients the option to communicate anytime
  • Delivers instantly: Immune to the delays of email
  • Easy to use with no in-house IT support required
  • Money back guarantee - Cancel anytime

HOW TO GET AND BEGIN USING IT IN MINUTES

All you do to get this secure web portal is to sign up for a WordSecure Monthly Subscription, then accept the End User License Agreement. You will have a secure password to log in each time you need to access the portal. Once you're in, you can just email clients and let them know about the new service you have which guarantees confidentiality, and you're in business. Once you're ready to use the service, you just send them a notification through the secure website, and your client will receive a notification that they have received a secure message. Then they can access it through their email using a password.

EASY COMPUTER DATA SECURITY TIPS FOR LEGAL FIRMS:


If you are trying to operate more of your law practice online, but aren't ready for a secure messaging solution like WordSecure yet, here are some security tips to keep in mind to protect yourself and make sure you are in compliance with ABA Rule 1.6 as part of the greater, American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct:

1. Never send anything over email or text messages that contains confidential, financial or medical information. It's simply not worth the risk.

2. Zipping and password-protecting files is a good way to encrypt them for sending over email if you have no other reliable method.

3. Never keep anything confidential in "the cloud". The cloud is another way of saying your data is kept in many different locations simultaneously, which means it is subject to multiple hacking trajectories which means multiple points of potential failure.

4. Never send passwords or credit card numbers over email. If you can't send it securely, pick up the phone and call the person.

5. Beware of Faxing as a secure alternative. Ensure any fax film media (which contains the image of anything printed on older fax machines) is properly destroyed as well as hard copies on paper.

6. Ensure your email is using a secure, encrypted connection to your mail server. Note that this only protects your messages between your computer and the server. Anything going out or coming in is transmitted in CLEAR TEXT across the internet. This is true of GMail™ as well as all major email providers.

THE BEST SOLUTION: PREVENTION

These tips may keep you compliant when you think to employ them, but wouldn't it be better to have a system at-the-ready, whenever your clients or you need to send something securely? Consider the number of times people get careless -- perhaps there is a paralegal who works in your office, and they accidentally send the wrong information through email that is confidential and it is compromised by a virus or other technology mishap or security issue. What if your "cloud system" or drive where you keep legal files is hacked into, as so many have been over the past few months. What if your laptop with all your confidential emails gets stolen? What then?

To borrow from the medical professional code of conduct, the best solution is prevention. By putting a system in place which focuses on protecting the confidentiality of sensitive information, you will prevent anything like the above scenario from happening in the first place. Let's face it: People are human. They make mistakes. Someone could send a file somewhere. Someone could accidentally forget to zip a file to encrypt it when sending. The best thing you can do to protect your clients and yourself form such issues is to put a secure messaging system in place now.

WordSecure helps you do this by creating a web portal which operates behind the actual website, which gives you and your clients ultimate security and privacy.

Get started now on this trusted system of communication for attorneys and clients, click here to sign up, get a 15 day free trial and a 25% discount when you subscribe.


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