As I sat down to write this article, I thought about comparing all sorts of email encryption solutions, but I had a hard time writing an article that was truly useful. I eventually rethought my premise. I decided to focus on the features that I thought would matter to you, and the best solution for each problem. And that’s how we got here. Rather than give you many options, I’m going to give you my best answer. For most lawyers, the most popular solution I recommend for your most common encryption hurdles is ShareFile.
Works with Outlook
Most law firms use Outlook. Without having to change a single thing about how you already send email, you can incorporate ShareFile into your security protocols. ShareFile has an Outlook plugin which detects if you have attachments, and can be customized to automatically encrypt email messages, or allow you to choose which messages are encrypted. On the sender side, you simply press the ShareFile button on your email menu. It’s remarkably easy. No passwords. No creating unique keys. No advanced technical skill required.
On your client’s side, they see that they have received a message. Depending on how you sent the email, they are prompted to go to ShareFile.com to see the message, or they can open the email using no username or password, so long as they are opening their email using a browser based email app. The message can include your branding, and a personalized message from you.
When it comes to encryption solutions that are both professional and easy to use, ShareFile is always among my top recommendations.
Meets Client Expectations
When it comes to user names and passwords, you may have some clients that push-back. However, most folks recognize that when you go to a third party website, and need to access information, you should enter a username and password. This is true for banking, social media, email, and shopping. Asking a client to create an account to access their confidential documents on the Sharefile website comports with most people’s expectations. The interface that ShareFile provides is easier for clients to accept than a password on a traditional encrypted email. Of course, you can tell your clients how to access email with out using a password, but I strongly recommend that you store your confidential client files on the ShareFile site, and require a password. It’s just the safest way.
Send and Receive with Confidence
ShareFile allows you to send and receive documents securely, and to be sure that your files are received. ShareFile includes an audit trail. You can see when a file was downloaded, when a file is uploaded, and when a file is edited. You can review previous versions of files, and see the lifecycle (upload, edit, checkout, edit, share, deletion) of all your files.
ShareFile also provides unlimited client accounts. You can give clients access to specific documents, see when they opened them, and revoke access at any time. This is an especially helpful tool if you have a forgetful client who can’t remember if they received a particular document, or if they viewed this month’s invoice.
The three reasons above are the main selling points for me, but ShareFile has some other tools that you should know about.
Easily share documents up to 100GB.
Files are protected during transfer with SSL/TLS encryption protocols and in storage using AES 256-bit encryption.
Search every file and folder in your ShareFile account by any keyword for a simpler way to find and access.
Give client, co-counsel, experts and others an easy way to send you files by including a secure link in your email that allows them to upload files directly to your ShareFile account.
Give clients and co-counsel a way to access their files in a secure login space right on your website.
And that’s it folks. Yes, there are other solutions out there. And there are good reasons for individual firms in unique cases to chose a different vendor. But most of you fall within the 80% of the bell curve that needs an easy, reasonably priced solution that works with Outlook and other software commonly found in small, mid-sized and even large law firms. If you want to take a closer look at ShareFile, check out their legal landing page here: https://www.sharefile.com/industries/legal. You can take review specific features here: https://www.sharefile.com/resources/citrix-sharefile-for-legal. For the majority of you, ShareFile is a good answer for most of your email encryption challenges.
If you have any questions about anything you’ve read in this article, you can reach me at email@example.com.
Joyce Brafford is a North Carolina attorney and CLE Manager at NC Bar Association. She helps solo practitioners and law firms find the right practice management tools for their business. She provides individual and firm consultations on legal research and MS Office, as well as identifying appropriate tech resources which the NCBA provides as part of its member benefit suite.