The use of cloud technology is on the rise among law firms. Lawyers have begun to embrace technologies such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. due to convenience (access to documents anywhere) and necessity (both COVID and client demand). However, not all storage tools are created equal, nor are all tools useful for everyone. Today we’ll focus on Google apps for attorneys, specifically Google Drive and answer the all-important questions – is Google Drive secure and effective?
Is Google Drive secure?
Short answer, yes – Google Drive is a great, secure way for lawyers to store and share documents. Google Drive has multiple, state-of-the-art security features, which is why even Fortune 500 organizations have integrated it into their technology infrastructure. These security features include encryption, single sign-on (SSO), user permissions, and more.
Encryption is one of the most important features for lawyers. Fortunately, Google Drive utilizes 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption for files in transit and 128-bit AES keys for files at rest. In other words, this means that Google uses stronger encryption (256-bit) when you’re uploading, downloading, or accessing the files which are stored on Google Drive. That’s important because when files are “in transit” is when they are most at risk, so Google has added extra security at this stage.
Another moment during which systems are more vulnerable is when signing into a platform. This is often when hackers are able to capture usernames and passwords. This is why Google Drive uses SSO. A single sign-on, allowing users to log in once per day (unless they’ve actively logged out or shut down a computer, etc.) without the need to re-enter passwords throughout the day or when accessing connected applications – such as CloudLex. Not only is this more convenient for users, it is more secure and reduces the system’s exposure.
User permissions are also a great way to enhance security. This allows the account administrator to assign pre-determined (or in some cases, custom) access and rights to each user. This governs what each individual user can or cannot do when they access the system. In Google Drive, some examples are “View Only” permission – meaning a user at this permission level can only view documents in Google Drive. They cannot edit, download, share, delete, etc.
Finally, Google Drive is compliant with HIPAA (and numerous other tech security laws and industry standards). HIPAA compliance should give added peace of mind to any injury lawyer.
Is Google Drive effective?
There are pros and cons when it comes to the effectiveness of Google Drive for lawyers. First the pros. Google Drive is a great way for lawyers to store and share documents. It enables secure collaboration and lets multiple users work together in real-time. This is especially important for multiple reasons. First, it enables access to documents from anywhere. Pre-COVID was useful if an attorney was stuck in court or needed at-home access in case of an emergency. During/after COVID, it was super important for allowing law firm operations to continue while the entire staff was forced to work from home.
Additionally, it is very convenient for collaborating with your clients – you can easily send them documents in a secure manner and allow them to upload documents you need from their home, work, etc. The same applies to third parties you deal with, such as medical providers, experts, and litigation support services. You can easily get documents to and from these third parties in a simple and secure manner.
Now for the cons. Google Drive can easily become cluttered, as there are limited built-in file structuring options in general. For lawyers, Google Drive doesn’t have the specific needs of law firm filing structures in mind. This makes it difficult to categorize documents as you want, tag them for easier search or link them to other information relevant to a specific client.
There are alternatives that can be explored, such as Dropbox or Microsoft One Drive – however, many of these standard document management systems have the same limitations when it comes to lawyers. However, one solution is to utilize systems built specifically for lawyers, such as CloudLex which not only has document management solutions but can also easily integrate with Google Drive.