Although there are few rules relating to email archiving for law firms, what rules there are often overlap with document retention rules governing the activities of clients. For example, if a client of a law firm operates in the financial or healthcare sector, certain emails have to be retained for a minimum of seven years in order to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley or six years for HIPAA.
Documents relating to clients operating in the pharmaceutical industry may have to be retained for up to thirty-five years, while some investment and insurance documents should be retained indefinitely. Even when a client is not operating in a regulated industry, most state bars and rules of professional conduct state that law firms should retain client records for at least seven years after a matter is closed.
The volume of retained data over these periods can be colossal. Law firms are heavy users of email and many use their mail server as a de facto document repository system. This can cause problems with the amount of space available for email processing and with recovering documents to support litigation. Email archiving for law firms helps resolve these issues, but it is important that whatever solution is implemented is both secure and effective.
Email Archiving and the General Data Protection Regulation
In May 2018, the EU´s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect. This regulation gives EU citizens rights over how their personal data is collected, processed, shared and retained, and rights to access their personal data to correct or erase it – and to ensure it is being used for the purpose for which it was collected.
The GDPR is unlikely to create many issues relating to privacy and data security, as most law firms will have mechanisms in place to protect the integrity of stored data. What some law firms may be lacking is a process of immediate archiving and mechanisms that ensure a tamper-evident audit trail is created for each email passing through the mail server.
Due to EU citizens being able to request access to their data, it is also important that whatever mechanisms are introduced to comply with GDPR are also capable of fast searches and data retrieval. Data access requests have to be resolved within thirty days, or the law firm could be fined for non-compliance with the GDPR even though no data breach has occurred.
Different Email Archiving Solutions for Law Firms
There are three main email archiving solutions for law firms – software, hardware and cloud-based. Software is often the default archiving solution, as it is quick and easy and usually involves creating an archive folder and depositing emails into it. However, this is not necessarily an ideal solution, as the volume of data simply moves from the email server to another location within the system and ultimately uses up the same amount of space – creating new issues elsewhere within the system.
Hardware email archiving solutions for law firms also have their issues. Although freeing space from the system, hardware solutions can be damaged, lost or stolen, and therefore they are not appropriate for storing confidential data. The issue also exists of conducting multiple searches over multiple removable data to locate documents that may be required in e-discovery. Potentially unsecure and ineffective, hardware email archiving solutions for law firms can create more issues than they resolve.
Cloud-based email archiving for law firms resolves the data storage issue and the security issue. Cloud-based archives expand dynamically in storage capacity as email data grows over time. All emails are encrypted in transit and when stored, giving law firms total protection against data loss. When copied and archived in a secure data center in real time, cloud-based email archiving for law firms can also be used as part of a disaster recovery plan.
Further Advantages of Cloud-Based Email Archiving for Law Firms
In addition to resolving storage and security issues, cloud-based email archiving for law firms also enhances productivity. Cloud-based email archiving solutions for law firms are simple for employees to use. When an email is lost, misfiled or deleted in error, users can quickly restore it to the mail server with the click of a mouse and without calling upon the services of IT support.
Cloud-based email archiving solutions work across multiple Exchange servers and multiple Exchange stores to archive data in one large database. This means that larger law firms do not have to search across multiple servers to retrieve data or conduct e-discovery on a multinational client. The option to enforce retention policies also ensures that an archived email will never be deleted in error.
With the exception of Microsoft´s solution, cloud-based email archiving solutions for law firms are generally compatible with all leading email service providers. Users can access archived emails from a number of accounts via a browser-based portal, dependent on the permission-levels that have been assigned by the system administrator. Indeed, to maximize security, it is advisable to implement an email archiving solution that enables delegated access.
Not All Cloud-Based Email Archiving Solutions for Law Firms are the Same
It has already been mentioned that Microsoft´s cloud-based email archiving solutions for law firms have their limitations, and there are significant differences in how other solutions work that can impact their effectiveness. One of these differences relates to how emails are archived. Whereas some archiving solutions copy absolutely every piece of data, other deduplicate emails before archiving them.
Deduplication is the process of removing all duplicated content and attachments from emails before compressing them, indexing them and archiving them. This process reduces the amount of space needed to store email data and also makes searches quicker to perform. Furthermore, when search results are delivered, there are not dozens of duplicated emails to navigate through before users find the information they need.
Some cloud-based email archiving solutions for law firms also offer tamper-evident audit trails. This feature discloses when, how, and by whom an email has been altered to reveal potential issues within a law firm that might affect the integrity of email data. The tamper-evident auditing facility is a useful tool to identify unusual or client-specific activity within the archive, and can be used to resolve HR issues or disputes between a client and a law firm.
ArcTitan Cloud – Secure, Compliant and Efficient Email Archiving for Law Firms
ArcTitan Cloud from WebTitan is a cloud-based email archiving solution that eliminates issues related to security, compliance and efficiency. A “set and forget” solution, ArcTitan Cloud is easy to use and effective at what it does – deduplicating, compressing, indexing and archiving up to 200 emails per second in real time.
Archived email data is encrypted and maintained in an IL5 certified data center on Replicated Persistent Storage on AWS S3 and the archive is automatically backed up to protect against data loss. All searches and results are conducted over mandatory TLS protocols, and tamper-evident audit trails are provided to identify the unauthorized alteration of email data. Mechanisms also exist for administrators to define their own retention policies by user, by client or universally to match the law firm´s compliance requirements.
ArcTitan Cloud is capable of searching a database of 30 million emails in under a second. Users can select the fields over which they wish to search (user, data, client, subject, attachment) and have a choice of result delivery methods. Searches can be combined and saved if they need to be performed regularly. It is also possible to run multiple searches at the same time, which is not possible with the email archiving feature of Microsoft Office 365. ArcTitan Cloud is compatible with all operating systems and all email service providers and is scalable up to 60,000 concurrent users and you only pay for the number of active users. With ArcTitan Cloud, law firms are assured of never losing an email again.
Book a Demo of ArcTitan Cloud in Action
If your law firm is evaluating the options for email archiving, we invite you to take advantage of a free demo of ArcTitan Cloud in action to evaluate our solution for email archiving for law firms. Our offer gives your employees the opportunity to see how to easily retrieve lost, misfiled or accidentally deleted emails, and conduct e-discovery searches much quicker than before.