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Beyond Email: Ensuring the Privacy and Security of Client Communications

Busy immigration practitioners often operate under extraordinary pressure and time constraints.  Finding efficient ways of completing time sensitive tasks, information gathering and communication with clients is vital to the success of the practice. In the rush for more efficient communications, it’s easy for practitioners to forget the security needs of their clients. Choosing the right technology solution and practices will enable the you to protect client security needs and answer the inevitable security questions and concerns of existing and prospective clients.

One of the fundamental questions to consider is: Do you know where your clients’ data is or who has access to it?  Depending on the methods of communication used or the ways to obtain and share data, the answer to that question may not be as clear as you might initially think. With the advent of so many technological options that unite organizations more easily with clients to share information, communicate needs, express deadlines, and inform about important matters, the value of making a wise choice increases.

While there are a variety of methods to obtain and share necessary information, they are not all created equal.   Let’s take a moment to review just a couple practices that are commonplace.

E-mail in many offices, is the primary communication and information processing system in use.  What used to be a business tool for only a select few has expanded to an application used daily in many households and most businesses.  In many ways nothing is easier than sending out e-mail to send or request information from a client or contact. One risk regarding e-mail that is worthwhile to consider is that most email transmissions are sent “in the clear”.  This means that the message sent is unencrypted and the information contained within it can be “snooped” by someone with malicious intent.

While email is an essential business tool and allows organizations and clients to quickly disseminate and share information, it is wise to consider whether it provides sufficient security for all of your needs.  Generally speaking, sending confidential client data through email is not a recommended best practice.  Transmitting personally identifiable information (PII) through an unsecure email system is not supported by many organizations and should be avoided.   To overcome this pitfall, users may opt to share information via parcel post if time, case needs, and budgetary considerations permit.  As we will see later in this article, a better solution exists.

Another consideration depending on where you practice is that of increased legislation such as Massachusetts’ 201 CMR 17:00: Standards for Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth. This legislation scrutinizes business privacy policies and the exchange of personal information. Those organizations subject to these requirements should carefully review internal policies surrounding data sharing.

All of this can be daunting for organizations under constant pressure to meet deadlines and ultimately maintain responsibility for clients’ livelihood.  Timeliness and security may seem to be at odds with one another, but rest assured, secure transmission of information is possible.  Robust case management systems like the LawLogix EDGE online solution offer a suite of tools to communicate, share vital case information and obtain critical information from clients all within the confines of a secure and encrypted environment.

Organizations who utilize the EDGE system  are encouraged to use key features of the system to communicate in a protected environment.  EDGE provides an internal messaging system that allows practitioners and their clients to maintain a constant stream of communication without ever leaving a secure environment.

SureMessage℠ is ideal for sending and receiving highly sensitive data that is not appropriate for delivery through traditional email transmittal.  Messages sent in this way never go through an email server nor are they sent or received by an external source.  Users and clients access these messages from within the database. As an added convenience the correspondence is automatically stored in the foreign national’s virtual file.  Another way to ask for and obtain information is through the use of online questionnaires.   These, too, are shared internally within the system and “live” within the secure database.  The use of the foreign national (or corporate client) portal, an equivalent online access point for clients, allows organizations to collaborate within a secure, electronic “meeting space”.

Virtually “handing” the client a questionnaire or sharing a note or document within the system is like being in a virtual conference room with the client.  Here, though, users benefit even more from the virtual world in that multiple users from the organization, the foreign national client and possibly even petitioning employer all can be part of the virtual conversation and share information securely.  As an example, both client and foreign national may utilize the document upload feature to provide and store supporting documents.  Clients may be given access to view uploaded documents which may range from application receipts to passport copies, and can easily retrieve needed documents and forms from the database.

Busy immigration practices have benefited greatly from the introduction of new technologies that improve efficiency and communication.   However, to maintain clients’ trust and their personal information, it is essential to analyze the methods of communication used.  The EDGE internal messaging system, online questionnaires, and document upload eliminates the need to email attachments in an unsecure method, or store data locally on laptops, computers or servers prone to theft.  Those organizations making use of tools like the EDGE system that provide secure means to access and store data are well positioned in this age of information technology and identity theft.

Want to learn how more about secure communication methods within the LawLogix EDGE case management system?  Current EDGE clients can contact Customer Support here or by calling us at 602-357-4240 ext. 2 for complete details.  New clients interested in learning more the LawLogix EDGE system can contact us here or call 602-357-4240 ext. 1.  Also, please visit our website at www.lawlogix.com for general information.