4 Cybersecurity Tips For Lawyers

This week’s Bar View guest author is Nicole Black. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and are not intended to represent those of the MCBA or its board of trustees.

By Nicole Black, Esq.
Nicole black

In the 21st century, technology has changed at an incredible rate. Sometimes the pace of change can seem overwhelming, especially for lawyers trying to manage their busy practices. Learning about and implementing new technologies into law practices can often be a difficult task–one that is complicated by ethical obligations which require that clients’ confidential information remain secure.

The good new is that there are steps you can take to increase your firm’s cybersecurity. Here are a few tips to get you on the path to having a more secure law firm.

1. Update your law firm’s software regularly

It’s imperative to update your software regularly in order to ensure that it is secure. Software updates often fix known security issues and if you fail to update your software, you may be unknowingly exposing all of your law firm’s data. That’s why it’s recommended that you enable automatic software updates for your firm’s software. And if you use cloud-based software for your law firm, you’re in luck! Your cloud-based software provider will automatically update your law firm software, ensuring that it is always up-to-date and secure.

2. Use secure communication tools

In the mid-90s, email was given the green light by legal ethics committees and lawyers began to use email to communicate confidential information to clients. That was then, this is now. Although it still is ethically permissible for lawyers to use email to share information that is not particularly sensitive, email is nevertheless outdated and unsecure by today’s standards.

Fortunately, there are far more secure alternatives these days when it comes to communicating with clients. Whether it’s using the client portals built into law practice management software, encrypted email, or using encrypted voice communication tools, you now have more secure options for sharing confidential client information.

3. Make sure to use encryption

Speaking of encryption, make sure to use it for every type of communication, across all of your devices. One option is to use Whats App for communicating with clients since it offers encrypted text and voice communications. Message on your iPhone is also encrypted and is more secure than traditional SMS messages. Similarly, Facetime on your iPhone provides encrypted voice communication features.

4. Ensure your mobile devices are secure

Finally, make sure to secure your mobile devices. For starters, always password protect your devices. Also, consider using a password manager such as LastPass to allow you to increase the complexity of passwords used while simultaneously increasing security. And last, but certainly not least, enable features on your devices that allow you to remotely wipe data from them should they be misplaced or stolen.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, a law practice management software company. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media For Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology.

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Guest Post by Liz Novak: MCBA Website — Where do we go from here?

We’re looking at revamping, re-skinning, redoing our website. Whatever you want to call it, the bottom line is that we’re looking at making some significant changes to it.

The last redo of our website was about 4 years ago and it suited what we were trying to accomplish at that time. But I think websites might age like dogs – so that means that redesign was nearly a lifetime ago.

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Sure we’ve made some tweeks and additions over the years but it’s always good to look at a website every few years and reevaluate – are we providing a resource to our members?

I was doing a little research on website trends, and words like responsive design, parallax scrolling, flat web design, and others that sound good in theory, but like skinny jeans, don’t translate into my actual daily life.

While I agree (as an iphone/ipad junkie) that being responsive to various devices – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop – is important for folks to access a website and not get completely annoyed with the super small type that you have to manually (literally) enlarge, I also believe we overcomplicate things and that simpler is better.

What’s the information our members want from our website on a regular basis? What do they need? And what aren’t we providing that maybe we can be providing?

But maybe I’m wrong…I’m no tech guru. I live with one, but I’m not one. (Actually, he wants to be referred to as a tech guru genius, but I can only take it so far). My best answer to all things technology related – whether it’s a website not working properly, my email, etc – is to reboot.

So rather than us assume or simply go with the trends being published, we want to hear from you. And Mary takes it personal that no one responds to our blog – so I’m asking, can you please respond to the survey below. The survey will also be posted on Facebook and our homepage.

Click here to take survey

It’s 10 questions that takes less than 5 minutes, and I appreciate you taking the time to do so!

Thanks for checking in…

Liz

P.S. And if you never want to miss an installment of the Bar View, feel free to click the orange “follow” button at the bottom left (which means it will show up in your email inbox) or make it a favorite.

Learning the technology…it never stops!

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I am preparing to present to the House Finance Committee, and then to the Board of Trustees, some projections as we prepare for the 2013-14 budget. I have some pretty extensive reports that I want to translate to a variety of charts because I do believe it is easier to communicate those projections in the form of a chart vs. a spreadsheet.

In addition, I am working on a presentation for an upcoming ABA Meeting at the Annual Bar Leadership Institute Conference in Chicago. I will be there in mid-March, along with MCBA President-Elect Diane Cecero, when we attend “bar presidents school.” I am one of two presenters at a session for the new presidents titled, “Ensuring Your Bar’s Financial Future”. I am planning to use several of the same data charts at that program as well that will demonstrate the historical trends of this association with regard to membership, CLE participation, and other measurable benchmarks. I am tracking a variety of demographics including age, gender, and practice areas.

So recently I sat down to look at a blank Excel sheet, and to take the data, build the spreadsheet, then hit the magical keys to spit out the beautiful charts. Only problem is — I have not done one of these in a while, and my technique was off. So I determined that my Excel skills were a bit rusty, and a refresher course was in order.

So today, in between a few meetings here, and one at the Hall of Justice, I am taking advantage of one of our MCBA Member Benefits at Lynda.com. Lynda.com is a website rich with training opportunities on everything from Excel to PowerPoint to Word to Outlook to how to build a blog, and the list goes on. Lynda.com is a free to members, and I have to tell you — I am really impressed!! It is easy to follow, and convenient.

Deal is, you need to come to the bar to take one of the free programs since it must be taken on a dedicated computer at the MCBA. So when you have an hour or two, call ahead, reserve the computer, come to learn, and enjoy the free coffee or soda that goes along with it.

In this age of technology, the learning NEVER stops. And if the MCBA and Lynda.com can play a role in keeping you ahead of the curve, then I believe we have made a small contribution.

I promise that when I complete the course, I will publish one of my very impressive charts. Watch for next week’s blog and let me know what you think. If you are interested in signing up to try one of the hundreds of online classes, contact Dajaneé Parrish at dparrish@mcba.org at 585-402-7198.

Meanwhile, thanks for checking in…

Mary