As a law firm professional, you work long hours.
Occasionally, when there are just a few more hours of doc review or proofreading to be done, it’s nice to complete them in the comfort of your own home.
However, allowing attorneys to bring work computers to and from the office poses security threats to the firm. Not only do computers contain proprietary information about firm and case strategy, they can also reveal confidential personal information about employees and clients.
Even still, a total lock-down of your personnel will not necessarily clear up the problem.
These days, the most advanced technology is ultra sleek and usually ultra mobile. Tablets, smartphones, ipods, iphones, and iPads are just a few of the many examples of technology that lawyers use as tools.
So, before you draft a manual on BYOD (“Bring your own devices”) policies for the workplace, consider the following pros and cons.
A recent study revealed that 50 percent of senior financial executives from both public and private companies are confident that sensitive or confidential information is adequately protected on social-media platforms, according to the HBR Blog. And, the number of pros and cons for laptop use in law firms is on equally even keel.
- Employees can work from home at any hour
- Employees can work despite inclement weather
- FLEX scheduling—as facilitated by portable laptop computers—has been shown to increase employee productivity and morale
- Employees can take presentations for court or for clients with them, without concerns for USB keys, lost portable hard-drives, or technical errors when data is transferred incorrectly
- Office space can be shuffled around and reorganized as needed, without the hassle of moving heavy computer equipment
- Employees can bring computers to meetings (or the law library) for notetaking, as recording devices, or for demonstrations/presentations
- Employees can lose expensive laptop computers accidentally in transit
- Losing a laptop is costly in terms of security concerns
- Laptops are less powerful computers
- It’s impossible to guarantee the security of an employee’s home Internet access
- The temptation of employees to use work computers at home for personal use increases the risk of e-mail or computer viruses
- Desktops are cheaper
Nevertheless, with services like Dropbox, iCloud, SugarSync, and Boxnet, for example, employees with nefarious intentions can quite easily store information for use outside the office—with or without their laptop computer.
And, employees are still likely to use social media, and expose your firm to its inherent risks, while at work—with or without a laptop computer.
Whether you decide to become a laptop or desktop firm, it’s important to create a few concrete rules.
First, require lengthy and complicated passwords on all devices that access firm information.
Second, require employees to keep anti-virus software up-to-date at all times.
Third, make sure your employees are aware of social media policies and other workplace policies regarding the mix of personal and professional use of work computers during the day.
In the end, the best way to ensure the security of law firm confidential and proprietary information is to hire trustworthy employees. The search for an idea law firm “portable device” policy starts at hiring.