The Alternative Legal IT Conference 2018, 25th-26th September (Warwickshire)
25 May 2018
HubShare Webinar – Visualfiles intergation allows users to collaborate for the first time
13 June 2018

Why law firms need to avoid email attachment hell

Check your inbox, how many emails do you have? I bet by the time you’ve read this article you’ll have even more. It’s a fact, currently email is by far the worlds most popular way to exchange business communication, but it comes fraught with problems and danger. How can lawyers getting 100’s and 1000’s of emails a day possibly manage the urgent from the less so? A recent survey carried out by a messaging application claimed over 50% of important emails get marked as spam by mistake.

If you look at your inbox again how many of those emails have attachments and how many are part of an email string? The problem with email these days is that we end up with multiple copies and versions or attachments, sometimes in emails with different recipients,  and you end up with many disparate emails. To add to this, email is fast becoming a less secure place to exchange confidential information with the ‘man in the middle attack’ and tighter data breach regulations such as the GDPR and the NDB scheme.

Once you send an email with an attachment it’s gone. You have no control over what happens next. Imagine you’ve just sent this to the wrong person, what do you do? We all know the outlook ‘recall this message’ doesn’t actually work. Not only do you have a potential data breach issue, but where has your email and its attachment gone? Have they read it (hardly anyone accepts read receipts either), has it been forwarded onto someone else? You’ve lost control.

Earlier this year, in Australia, the OIAC published its quarterly statistics about notifications received under the new mandatory (as of 22nd Feb 2018) Notifiable Data Breach scheme. Over 50% of data breaches have been attributed to human error, namely sending emails to the wrong person. 78% of the information disclosed in these data breaches contained personal data. The second largest industry for data breaches reported was from the legal industry at 16%. Whilst this is a small subset of data, it shows that with NDB and the GDPR mandatory data breach reporting in place, there are a significant amount of data breaches, a lot of which are in the legal industry.

Human error is only one of the issues with emails and more specifically attachments within emails. I’m sure you’ve heard many stories of users clicking on an attachment in an email for it to start a cyber-attack. Cyber hackers use this method for data ransom and data theft and it’s usually untraceable once started and ultimately very costly for the business.

What are the answers? Many firms are moving to using collaboration platforms to exchange documents and confidential information to try and solve this challenge. Maybe some years back there was a question mark over how these would be adopted, but how many of us send a WhatsApp message instead of a personal email? The technology has already been adopted in our everyday life. So it isn’t the case of will users adopt this new way of working, it’s how can we find the right tools to help our staff and clients. For lawyers, having matter-based conversations whilst keeping document exchange secure is paramount for law firms today. Collaboration not only reduces time spent going back and forth, it enhances client engagement which can only be good for any business.

Obviously, security is a huge driver for this change from email to a collaboration platform, but it can’t be the only driver. The platform the business brings in (not the user) needs to be extremely user friendly and improve the way of working, by collaborating in teams and delivering a better client experience.

Data is one of if not the most important asset for any business, so relinquishing control of what happens to that data is a huge risk to you and your customers.

Stay secure and get collaborating.