Every law office should have a comprehensive security system to monitor their physical office and to keep their confidential client data secure. Alarm systems can be as simple as a control keypad by the front door with alarms over windows and doors, to more complex systems that include motion detectors, video cameras with digital recorders and more.
Not only will you need to keep the physical space of your firm secure, you also need to ensure that the private data handled on a daily basis is also kept out of the wrong hands.
The following are a few things you should keep in mind when considering security services and practices for your law office:
Handling sensitive, confidential and contentious cases can sometimes lead to angry, hostile clients, witnesses or opposing counsel’s clients, therefore, it is a wise decision to have several layers of security in place for the worst-case scenario. Even if the situation does not escalate to a level where law enforcement needs to be contacted, having systems in place when you or your staff feel threatened will help you document, contain and possibly give you an escape from the confrontation.
- Panic or duress button: This should be mounted on the underside of the receptionist’s desk (and possibly one under each major partner’s desks, especially if they deal with volatile clients regularly). This panic button should either notify the building, office security or the local police.
- Security cameras: Larger law firms often employ discreet security cameras in the lobby, in the elevators, and at all entrance and exit areas to monitor the traffic during and after office hours. Security cameras can be fitted with digital recorders; multiple cameras will require a complex close circuit TV system that allows your security company, security officers, and receptionists to view the people entering and exiting the building and/or firm.
- Motion detectors: These can be programmed to turn on after you law firm’s business hours. Triggered by body heat and movement, motion detectors will alert the security company should any activity show up inside the office when there should be no one inside.
- Biometric security: If you frequently handle highly confidential material and need to restrict access to all of the office or just parts of it, consider biometric measures. These include fingerprint scans, retinal scans, iris scans and hand scans. Effective and easy-to-use, biometric forms of security checkpoints can help you control physical access to sensitive data and files, or control access to the entire office.
- Visitor protocol: All visitors should be greeted by the receptionist in the lobby area and then escorted into the office—no visitor should be able to walk straight in.
While some law offices still believe that hard copies of their files is more secure than keeping all the information on servers, paper copies are actually more perishable. Data stored electronically can be replicated easily and stored on multiple servers and backup drives.
Ideally, your law firm should have at least two sets of recovery and backup files to your office’s data. One copy should be stored in your office in a secure and fireproof area; the other copy should be stored offsite in a similarly secure, fireproof location.
Sharing and protecting your firm’s information is just as important as data storage, and making sure that the confidential data can not be accessed by someone outside of the network is important to your company’s business and reputation.
Firewalls can help in maintaining the security and privacy of your law office’s data. Make sure your passwords are changed frequently and that backup data is encrypted. The server should be kept in a locked room with restricted access. You should also make sure your wireless networks are protected with with proper security. Invest in a single integrated product to handle malware, viruses, and spam.
These are just a few ways to help keep your law office secure and your data confidential. Invest in a high quality security system for both the office space and data to protect your law firm from physical and online intruders.
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from the Los Angeles area who writes on everything from home security and technology to holistic medicine and personal health. As the founder of Gryffin Media, she makes sure to protect her business’ information with high quality security programs.