A crucial part of every law firm’s success is being able to quickly create, store, access, and work on legal documents anytime, anywhere. This includes everything from legal documents and contracts, to everyday correspondence with clients, photos, video, etc. However, unlike some companies which can simply get rid of their documents after a few years, law firms are frequently required by law to not only protect their data but also retain their documents and data for an extended period of time—sometimes indefinitely.
Because more and more law firms are creating and storing documents electronically, below are five tips for storing and managing legal documents and data in the cloud:
Determine which documents and data to store in the cloud. When it comes to documents and data, law firms handle it all—from highly confidential health, financial, employment, school, and criminal records, and business and government data to non-confidential and publicly available documents and data. Therefore, it’s important for law firms to distinguish between which information is confidential and needs to be protected, and which data can be freely shared with anyone. Then, from there, decide where the best place is to store that data—whether in the cloud or on a personal computer hard drive or in-house server.
Decide who can have access to which documents and data. Then, create and implement formal company policies regarding document and data collection, access, use, transmission, storage, and retention. Once created, share information with employees on who can and can’t have access to different documents and data, and why.
Take steps to control access and ensure confidentiality. For example: a) Limit access to documents and data to only those who really need it to do their jobs; b) Require attorneys, staff, and clients to log in to access any documents stored in the cloud; c) Use multi-factor authentication (MFA); d) Adjust access rights based on a user’s location and which device they’re using.
Proactively monitor, manage, and test the system. Some of the best ways for law firms to ensure robust security and prevent unauthorized network access is by continually updating and monitoring their infrastructure, implementing best practices, and conducting periodic checks to make sure everyone is adhering to company policies.
Regularly review and update your law firm’s document and data storage processes. This will help your law firm stay up to date on any changes in the laws regarding the reasonable protection of confidential client information, as well as ongoing changes in technology.
In closing, while storing and managing legal documents in the cloud is the best, most cost-effective, and secure option, law firms still need to take steps to limit and manage who has access to their documents and data. But, by implementing the tips above, it can help make the process easier for everyone.