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Email, Text, Voice and Video

Using Encryption for Secure Client Communication

By Sheila Blackford

Secure client communication is a major concern for lawyers. Encryption is your best option for protecting confidential and sensitive information you exchange by email, text, voice and video calls with your clients.

Email Encryption

ABA Formal Opinion 11-459, Duty to Protect the Confidentiality of Email Communication with One’s Clients, states: “A lawyer sending or receiving substantive communications with a client via email or other electronic means ordinarily must warn the client about the risk of sending or receiving electronic communications using a computer or other device, or email account, where there is a significant risk that a third party may gain access.”

What are your options?

  • Cloudstar advertises convenient, easy-to-use email encryption, able to work with your email system or theirs.
  • ShareFile can be used to send secure links to files from your email. It also offers a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, to encrypt emails.
  • HPE SecureMail offers end-to-end encryption for email and attachments and is available for desktop, cloud and mobile platforms.

Text, Voice and Video Calls

Security concerns don’t end at email communications, of course. Consider these points:

  • If you’re texting with clients and want that communication secured, there are apps to encrypt your text messages. Signal, Wickr and WhatsApp are free apps you can download to securely text clients. If you use an iPhone, texts sent through the iMessage app are secured.
  • Signal also has encrypted voice and video calling. FaceTime on the iPad or iPhone has encrypted video calling.

Safer Communication Resource

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is in the process of updating its scoreboard of secure communication applications that allows you to see security features at a glance.

Meanwhile, check out the EFF’s “Surveillance Self-Defense” guide for tips, tools and how-tos for safer communication. There you can find helpful tutorials such as how to use OTR (“Off-the-Record” protocol) on Windows, Mac OS or Linux; how to use PGP on Windows or Mac; how to use Signal on Android or iOS; and how to use WhatsApp on Android or iOS.

Your clients are demanding better security. Are you ready to comply?

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Sheila Blackford Sheila Blackford

Sheila M. Blackford is an attorney and Practice Management Advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund. She received her J.D. with Tax Law Concentration from McGeorge School of Law. She is the author of the ABA book “Trust Accounting in One Hour For Lawyers,” co-author of “Paperless in One Hour for Lawyers,” and a past Editor-in-Chief of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine. Sheila is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and member of the OSB eCourt Task Force and Public Service Advisory Committee. She writes the Just Oregon Lawyers Blog. Follow her @SheilaBlackford.


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