Email might be so 1990s, but it’s never gone out of style in the legal industry. Legal professionals communicate primarily via email with their clients and each other. Very often, those emails include attachments. And that’s where the risks start to accumulate.
In the chaos of a busy workday, legal professionals are constantly switching tasks, navigating interruptions, and juggling various clients’ needs. Along the way, they may inadvertently make errors such as:
- Attaching the wrong document or the wrong version of a document;
- Attaching a document that includes comments, tracked changes, or other metadata; or
- Sending an email to the wrong person.
Those errors can have grave consequences concerning compliance, data security, and reputational damage. But legal professionals are only human, and mistakes are inevitable. So, what can law firms and corporate legal departments do to prevent these errors before they occur?
That’s what data loss protection is all about.
What is Data Loss Protection?
Data loss protection (also known as data loss prevention or DLP) encompasses technologies and techniques organizations can use to classify information and apply policies that protect that information. With well-designed DLP processes, users cannot share sensitive data accidentally or intentionally, protecting the organization from mistakes and malicious actions.
DLP tools analyze the information within files, emails, or other data sources to determine whether that information is confidential, regulated, or sensitive. If it is, DLP ensures that the appropriate protection is applied: encrypting the information, alerting the user, reporting the attempted action to an administrator, or taking other steps that the organization has established within its DLP protocols.
To be effective, DLP tools must be used while information is at rest, in use, and being sent across networks via email or another form of file-sharing—which brings us back to the problem of legal professionals and email attachments.
The Risks Associated with Email Attachments
Regarding communications, legal professionals are caught between a rock and a hard place. They must do everything possible to prevent the loss or misuse of sensitive client data, but at the same time, they must communicate openly and promptly with their clients. They can’t delay sending information until their IT team has time to review it, nor can they afford to make mistakes.
Email attachments are uniquely challenging because they pose obvious risks, like sending an attachment to the wrong recipient, and hidden risks, like metadata exposure. In this context, metadata, or data within the file, may include information about a file’s author, its creation date, and any tracked changes or document comments that haven’t been resolved and removed.
For example, suppose a lawyer needs to send a new client a letter about the status of their legal issue. Rather than starting from a blank page, the lawyer follows the common practice of duplicating the last client letter they sent about a similar matter and editing it to suit their new client’s needs. If that new letter isn’t scrubbed of metadata, it may include hidden comments and other metadata that reveal the first client’s name and other confidential details about the representation.
This information leakage can produce a flood of problems. The law firm could lose both clients, face a malpractice claim, and suffer irreparable reputational damage—all from one missent attachment.
So, how can you avoid these damaging mistakes?
How Metadact Helps You Send Safe Attachments to the Right People – Every Time
Metadact serves as an automatic checkpoint, verifying that every email attachment is scrubbed free of sensitive information and every email is sent to the correct recipients.
Metadata cleaning and attachment management. With Metadact, legal professionals can clean and analyze documents directly from their email provider. They can easily reorder, rename, and bind attachments and can even insert automatic cover pages, add passwords, or convert Word documents to PDF without leaving their email.
Wrong recipient detection. Metadact monitors email recipients and provides a warning or other escalation if a user tries to send an email to an unknown or external recipient. Metadact further protects against common recipient mistakes like hitting “reply all” to an email received via BCC or sending a business email to a personal domain. If a user insists on sending a suspicious email, Metadact can enforce DLP protocols by blocking it or placing it in quarantine pending administrator review.
Workflow integration. Best of all, Metadact works automatically, so legal professionals don’t have to disrupt their email workflow or remember to use a separate tool to scan their attachments. It also works on any device, ensuring that emails are protected, whether legal professionals are in the office or working remotely.
With Metadact, your law firm and corporate legal department can enjoy total email security by enforcing DLP measures, simplifying attachment management, and verifying recipients. That keeps your people covered, so your legal professionals can focus on what matters.