How Blockchain Improves Communication Between Law Firms and Their Clients
Client privilege, privacy and confidentiality undergird relationships between law firms and their clients. Yet outdated communication technologies are grossly inadequate at ensuring those ethical responsibilities. That’s why blockchain offers an enormous leap forward for law firms.
The current problem
Current technologies range from woefully vulnerable platforms like email to standalone systems that provide a greater — but still not fully protected — degree of security. Communicating via email passes confidential information through the internet, which has repeatedly proven vulnerable to hackers.
Not only that, but many clients rely on third-party email providers. That means confidential communications pass through parties from whom those communications must be protected, but whose policies and security efforts are outside the control of both the firm and its clients. This is clearly untenable. Yet it is often the default situation.
Attempts to better protect what they are ethically bound to protect have led firms to maintain standalone systems that often make client communications difficult. Establishing a secure interface between the firm’s systems and clients’ systems often proves nearly impossible.
The blockchain solution
That’s why blockchain is gaining traction to solve law firms’ security and communication needs. It provides a secure, permissioned, distributed ledger system that involved parties can access with confidence that it will protect the privilege, privacy and confidentiality crucial to firms and their clients.
Its encryption can protect virtually any kind of legal matters, “smart” (self-executing) contracts, discovery issues, transactions, or sensitive communications. Meanwhile, it makes them virtually tamper-proof.
Its distributed ledger format eliminates the vulnerabilities of centralized record systems. Each item deploys to the ledgers on multiple servers, each hosted by different law firms and law schools, so each server, or node, has a nearly real-time record of all activity on the platform.
This leaves no question about an item’s authenticity. The impossibility of compromising every node ensures legitimacy. And the system of single use cryptographic hashes to identify links in the “chain” ensures that any attempt to tamper with an individual record will be immediately evident.
A compromised record would contain a new hash value inconsistent with that of the next hash, making it stand out. And the improper hash value would prevent it from deploying to other nodes.
Yet, for all its security, blockchain provides firms and their clients easy access to what they need. Rather than trying to transfer sensitive documents between incompatible standalone systems, both parties interface with the same platform.
Encryption and permission protocols ensure that each user can access only what they need. For example, someone who needed to see only that a transaction had been completed could confirm the transaction without viewing personal information of those involved in it.
Blockchain solves the security problem of sending confidential communication over unsecured platforms. Yet it does so without struggling to communicate over multiple, incompatible systems.
Ultimately, blockchain offers exactly what law firms need to communicate with their clients. It offers the security to fulfill firms’ ethical requirements to clients, while, simultaneously, providing clients with easy access to whatever privileged, private and confidential materials they need to send or receive.