Four Ways to Properly Control Your Clients’ Documents
Clients share documents with you in various ways, often via email or cloud document-sharing services. Once you receive the files, however, you gain the most control when you use an enterprise cloud collaboration application.
Over the last year or two, clients have become increasingly comfortable with cloud services. They use them to share vacation photos, back up their iPhones, and even file their tax returns. Now more and more clients are using cloud services to share documents with their lawyers, including sensitive documents related to patent applications or lawsuits.
But not all cloud collaboration applications are created equal. Popular consumer cloud services that your clients might use are not suitable for law practices because they lack the necessary controls and security. To better manage client files, look for an enterprise cloud collaboration application that provides four features: visibility into file activity, control over who can view a file, security, and convenient collaboration tools.
Gain Visibility Into File Activity
If you share a file with a client or co-counsel as an email attachment, you have no way of knowing who later views or forwards the file. The same is true if you use a consumer cloud application. In contrast, there are enterprise cloud collaboration applications that show every activity associated with a file. With this feature, you can see that Amanda Cho previewed the file at 12:04 p.m., downloaded it at 12:30 p.m., and shared it with William King at 8:00 a.m. the next morning.
There also may be certain files that you want to have tighter control over who has the ability to view and download, and for how long. Consider an early draft of a patent application. At first, you might want to limit access to your associates (not the client), assign a password to certain files, and allow only online previewing—not downloading. You may also want to stipulate that one or more files will expire from the site in 30 days, or even 1 day. Certain enterprise cloud collaboration applications provide this flexible control.
Protect Files with Security
The gold standard for cloud services is to use SSL encryption when data is in transit and, if you’re storing documents or other archival data, 256-bit AES encryption for data at rest. Encrypting data in transit gives your firm and your clients the confidence to upload and download files even from public Wi-Fi hotspots. If someone intercepts the transmission at the airport or Starbucks, they’ll only see gibberish.
If your practice requires it, look for a cloud collaboration application that complies with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act.
Making it easier to manage document review is another reason to share files using a cloud collaboration application instead of email. Preserving draft history in one place saves time and lets you quickly see which version is most current. Some cloud collaboration applications even allow you to edit documents without the hassle of first downloading them and then opening them in a word-processing application.
In summary, sharing files using an enterprise cloud collaboration application gives you tighter control over client files. There’s a good chance clients will continue to send files as email attachments or through consumer cloud services, but once you receive the file, moving it to an enterprise cloud collaboration application improves control, visibility, and security, and simplifies collaboration to make the most of your time.
Nitin Gupta is the Professional Services Industry Lead at Box, the Cloud Collaboration and File Sharing Leader. Last week Legal Productivity’s parent company Rocket Matter announced an integration with Box that allows attorneys to associate Box documents with matter and bill for time worked on them.