Gmail and Google Calendar [sometimes coupled with Google Apps] is a popular alternative to Outlook. But there is a key issue with using web-based email that lawyers often overlook: messages stored online simply don’t make it to your client file. If you prefer web-based email and rebel against the idea of downloading messages to a local program on your desktop or laptop, how can you document your file?
This has been a challenge. Until now.
The Bad Old Days: Saving Messages as Individual PDF Files
Gmail – as stand-alone web-based email – does not offer an easy way to capture a group of messages labeled or stored in a folder online. If you want to save client emails, you must do so one at a time by printing each message to PDF (or scanning each message to PDF). This is so incredibly tedious that most lawyers never do it. Messages are saved online and nowhere else, resulting in non-cohesive client records.
If you are paperless and storing your client records at one of the supported online destinations, then Zapier can make your client file cohesive. Everything is in one location and your records are complete. One of the most popular approaches is to use Zapier to save client email to Dropbox.
“Zapping” your Gmail to the same online location where you keep your other client records seems like a good way to go. As with any cloud-based solution, there are ethical concerns.
Is Zapier secure? Zapier stores the data it is moving on your behalf for 7 days, then purges it. Your credentials are protected by bank-level encryption. HTTPS or SSL connections are used whenever possible [If the destination app you are connecting to is not HTTPS or SSL, Zapier cannot “force” that type of connection.] Users can monitor the task history of Zapier for the life of their accounts to verify activity and data transfer. Read more here.
Is it a good idea to keep confidential and privileged client records in Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or One Drive? Yes, provided you supplement the built-in protection of your online accounts with a private [client side] encryption product like Viivo. Problem solved.
Won’t I just be safer if I store files on my own computer? This is another way to go, but you’ll be stuck with the one-at-a-time process of saving email as described above. Additionally, the tide of expert thought is shifting to the belief that cloud-based solutions are superior. See The great IT myth: is cloud really less secure than on-premise?