Email Is Outdated: Lawyers Now Have More Secure Ways To Communicate

By now, most lawyers know that regular email is inherently insecure. As discussed in the past, encrypted email is like sending a postcard written in pencil through the mail. As an email traverses multiple servers in many locations on its way to its end destination, it’s completely unencrypted and vulnerable to being accessed and readable by anyone who has an interest in doing so.

Despite the fact that email is inherently unsecure, some lawyers continue to use email to share all sorts of information with clients. According to the American Bar Association’s 2014 Legal Technology Survey Report (“Report”), 68% share memos and briefs, 63% provide case status updates, 60% share court filings, and 16% share service of process filings.

Lawyers even continue share confidential information with clients via unencrypted email. Surprisingly, 53% report sharing confidential or privileged information with their clients using email at least one or more times each day and 22% report sharing this type of information one to four times per week according to the Report.

The Report also indicates that although lawyers are aware of the security issues presented by email, very few take steps to address them, with a shocking 73% indicating that they attempt to preserve confidentiality solely by relying on a confidentiality statement contained in the message. Other steps taken include relying on a statement of confidentiality in the message’s subject line (25%), requiring clients to provide written consent (13%), or requiring clients to provide oral consent (9%).

The good news is that many lawyers are now using either using some type of encrypted email (35%) or are migrating to web-based client portals as a more secure method of client communication. The latter option often appeals to lawyers in part because cloud computing platforms that incorporate encrypted client communication provide a ready-made solution to the email problem and offer a more secure method of communication.

This is because web-based portals are a much more secure choice than unencrypted email.

Confidential client communications via web-based portals are encrypted and accessible only by those with a password. With web-based portals, confidential information stays confidential.

That’s why, according to the results from the Report, lawyers are increasingly using secure online portals, with the number of lawyers communicating and collaborating with clients online increasing every year from 9% in 2011 to 19% in 2012, 32% in 2013, and 33% in 2014.

The client portal of choice for solo lawyers? MyCase. According to the Report, 1/3 of all solo lawyers using web-based client portals reported that they prefer the portal built into the MyCase.

For more interestingand sometimes eye openingstatistics about lawyers, email, andencrypted communications gleaned from the 2014 survey, check out the infographic below!


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Law Technology Today

Law Technology Today is the official legal technology blog from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC). Law Technology Today provides lawyers and other legal professionals with current, practical and innovative content developed by some of the leading voices on legal technology.

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  • Sebastian Janus

    Email is definitely not outdated.

    Frankly, you are missing the whole point of email. It’s the number one tool of communication in the professional world for multiple reasons:

    – it is known to everyone who has ever touched the internet
    – its platform independent and can be used w/o any special device or platform
    – it can be encrypted by extensions (see PGP)
    – its asynchronous
    – you can attach virtually every kind of document
    – its well integrated into multiple other software such as calendars
    – constant improvements regarding encryption and SPAM classification

    With 205 billion email send every day email is in no way outdated nor will it be replaced by apps such as WhatsApp or Slack in the foreseeable future.

    With the right tools and extensions you can actually boost your inbox to a powerful tool of business for the 21st century. If you want to learn more about that, I recently wrote an article about 10 ways to supercharge email. You can find it here:

    Hope that helps,


    • Hi,

      Would you be interested in writing a counter piece to this article for Law Technology Today?