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A recent LexisNexis survey of 282 U.S. legal professionals entitled "File-Sharing in the Legal Industry" has found that 89 percent of law firms collaborate with clients or privileged third parties via email, with only 22 percent of firms using encrypted email and 77 percent relying simply on a confidentiality statement in the body of the email (h/t Network World).
"The use of the confidentiality statement conflates the duties to maintain client-attorney privilege and the duty to protect client confidential information," LexisNexis Senior Product Manager Christopher T. Anderson said in a statement. "On the one hand, privilege is not something the attorney can unilaterally waive (though through careless practice involving the client, they certainly can). On the other hand, confidences, once let into an unsafe ether, are put at risk, and no 'confidentiality statement' can mitigate that."
They survey also found that 52.5 percent of respondents have used free consumer file sharing services such as Dropbox or Box to share client-privileged communications, and less than 19.5 percent of firms provide their staff with enterprise-grade file sharing services.
"At the end of the day, your clients' confidential information is kept only as secure as your weakest link," Anderson said. "Failing to have clear and well-communicated policies all but guarantees that some members of staff of the firm will do what is most expedient, rather than what is in the clients' best interest; not out of malice, or even neglect, but sometimes because they just don't know better."