Lawyers can use Google Drive.
What You Should Know About Google Drive/Docs for Lawyers
Are you thinking about using Google Drive to save money at your law firm? Not So Quickly
Google Drive is a Google-provided cloud-based document and file storage solution. It’s simple to see why a law firm might consider using it for file storage and sharing because it is the unchallenged leader of the Internet. Google Drive offers both free and paid accounts that provide considerable storage as well as the opportunity to work with others and share files. Isn’t Google Drive a good option for lawyers?
Is Google Drive/Docs a Good Fit for a Law Firm?
One of the greatest selling factors for many cloud services for storing information, sharing files, and collaboration is affordability. For $5 per user every month, legal firms may get 30 gigabytes of storage through GSuite. For $10 per user each month, law firms can acquire unlimited cloud storage or 1 terabyte per user if they have less than five users. There is a $25 per user per month option, however if your company has fewer than five employees, they will only get 1 terabyte of storage. It does, however, have additional characteristics that we will discuss shortly.
When it comes to Google Drive for Lawyers, the fundamental question is whether it is fit for law firm use at any price point. While all account levels give users access to shared calendars and Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Google Drive lacks the security, matter-centricity, and robust document management features that most law firms demand.
Consumer-grade Cloud Storage Data Security
You deal with sensitive client information as a law firm, which is a significant consideration when analyzing Google Drive for Lawyers. Tax data, social security numbers, and other sensitive information may be held by family law or bankruptcy law businesses. Medical records, authorizations, and social security numbers may be held by personal injury and medical malpractice firms. Consider this: if you were a client, would you want your private data saved on a cloud that, while useful, isn’t necessarily designed to handle private data?
Consider this: how many people do you know who have a Google Drive account and utilize it regularly? A Google Drive account is available to everyone who has a Gmail account (or who uses GSuite). That’s common knowledge, and it’s likely to be the first location hackers try to log in and steal or keep your data hostage. Figuring out a user’s login email and password is all it needs at its most basic level.
It’s critical to remember that Google Drive for Lawyers is about more than just security. It’s all about making the most cost-effective selection for your law practise while staying within the bounds of cloud-based document sharing and storage ethics.
Examining the Importance of Ethical Obligations
Lawyers, like their data, are unique.
The prevailing view in recent legal ethics rulings is that lawyers should use the criterion of reasonable care. In some areas, such as California, lawyers are encouraged to consider the sensitivity of the material as well as the potential consequences for the client if the information is accessed mistakenly. Alabama expects lawyers to be up to date on best practices for protecting sensitive client information. According to Florida law, lawyers must make reasonable efforts to protect against potential data breaches.
Taking a Look at Matter-Centricity
In the Making: An Organizational Nightmare
It’s also vital to consider organization while choosing online document storage solutions like Google Drive for Lawyers. As useful as Google Drive is for allowing lawyers to access files when they’re not in the office (or for those who have a virtual office), it can quickly get cluttered. Law businesses that rely on Google Drive may face a major challenge if there are no set criteria for how files should be organized. How client files will be stored (by last name, case number, or some other indicator), how documents should be named, whether documents should be downloaded to hard drives, when all files should be uploaded to the drive, and who will be ultimately responsible for the organizational side of using the system are all things to think about when it comes to organization.
The Collaboration Conundrum is being investigated.
Although Google Drive has a fantastic feature that allows individuals to collaborate on projects. It appears to be a good idea, but it can be problematic for law firms. Rather than working on files in the cloud, workers frequently download them to work on. For a variety of reasons, workers may believe that downloading the file to work on it is preferable; the most common reason is an inconsistent Internet connection. What is the issue? They may not upload their revisions right away, or they may post the file under a different name. Other law firm personnel who may need the file may become confused as a result of this. They might not have the most up-to-date version, or you might end up with many versions and be unclear which one to use. When it comes to Google Drive for Lawyers, this is an important consideration.
Beyond simple storage, document management tools are being examined.
Finally, think about the tools that most legal companies require to manage papers. Google Drive (and similar services) provide only the most basic storage: a space to create folders and save files—nothing more, nothing less.
Most of the law firms with which we work require more. They must be able to categories, tag, and comment on documents. They must evaluate previous versions and keep track of version history. They require powerful search and OCR tools. They must be able to check documents out and then return them when they are finished working on them. They must also be able to store and manage emails in addition to documents. When choosing Google Drive for Lawyers, it’s important to assess whether your team needs tools that aren’t available in regular online storage.
Putting semantics aside, it’s vital to remember that Google Drive is not a Document Management System (DMS) and hence lacks these complex functions.
Best Practices for Lawyers Using Google Drive to Protect Their Data
A lawyer must make every effort to keep their Google account’s privacy settings as safe as possible.
To provide an extra degree of security to their documents and resources, they should enable the two-factor authentication capability.
Attorneys should avoid using passwords that are simple to guess. Hackers will go to any length to gain access to accounts that do not have a secure password. As a general guideline, a password that includes letters, numbers, and special characters should be created and used.
It’s a simple notion to leave the synchronization option turned on and manually sync all of the files throughout the day.
Extensions are encountered by third-party apps, which come in a variety of types. When it comes to the safety feature, however, not all are equal. All third-party options should be disabled, according to a lawyer. Even better, they should refrain from downloading or installing the extensions. As the proverb goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Some businesses that utilize Google Drive extensively think about sharing files outside of the company. This may be a straightforward concept for organizations that collaborate with others, but not for those that provide legal services. It has the potential to compromise the confidentiality and security of data, and thus the information of such businesses.
Google offline storage could be a useful tool that allows users to view their data even when they aren’t connected to the internet. While it isn’t strictly a direct threat to any file or folder, it does raise the chances of accidentally saving files. Unauthorized users will be able to access it after that.
The Final Word on Uptime
While a quick and easy way to upload and store files might be beneficial to your law practise, Google Drive for lawyers can pose severe challenges when it comes to the precise degree of document management required in the legal sector. Google Drive should not be your law firm’s go-to solution for cloud-based collaboration and storage due to ethics and organization concerns.
Look for the following characteristics in a document management solution designed for law firms:
- Document management and storage that is organized by subject.
- Email management features that are simple to use.
- Integrates with Microsoft Office to allow you to save documents to the cloud immediately.
- The capacity to index and search the names of all documents and emails, as well as their contents.
- The capacity to compare and contrast older and newer documents.
- Employees at law firms can check-in and check-out documents to guarantee that everyone is working with the most up-to-date materials and to avoid confusion.
- Create a document profiling and tagging system, as well as a list of preferred documents.
- When certain papers are altered or updated, you will receive notifications.
Law firms have unique requirements. Choose a product that is tailored to match your document management and collaboration needs.