Saving Gmail to PDF Using Zapier

Google Calendar in one hourAre you a Gmail user?  Many lawyers are.

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.

Today’s solution: Zapier

Zapier is one way to solve this problem.  It automatically files Gmail by moving messages for you.  The only trick is the destination, which must be another web-based service or account.  Google Drive and Dropbox are two examples of locations where mail can be saved.  Here is a simple explanation of how the service works.

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.

Parting Thoughts

“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.

  1. 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 SSLZapier 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?


All Rights Reserved [2016] Beverly Michaelis

Oregon Approves Ethics Opinion on “Cloud Computing”

May a lawyer contract with a third-party vendor to store client files and documents online, allowing for remote access by the lawyer or her clients?

Yes, so sayeth the Oregon State Bar in newly issued Formal Opinion No. 2011-188 Information Relating to Representation of a Client: Third-Party Electronic Storage of Client Materials.

Here are the details from the opinion:

A lawyer may store client materials on a third-party server so long as Lawyer complies with the duties of competence and confidentiality to reasonably keep the client’s information secure within a given situation.

Keeping client information secure means taking reasonable steps to ensure that the storage company will reliably secure client data and keep information confidential. Under certain circumstances, this may be satisfied though a third-party vendor’s compliance with industry standards relating to confidentiality and security, provided that those industry standards meet the minimum requirements imposed on the Lawyer by the Oregon RPCs. This may include, among other things:

  • Ensuring the service agreement requires the vendor to preserve the confidentiality and security of the materials.
  • It may also require that vendor notify Lawyer of any nonauthorized third-party access to the materials.
  • The lawyer should also investigate how the vendor backs up and stores its data and metadata to ensure compliance with the lawyer’s duties.

Although the third-party vendor may have reasonable protective measures in place to safeguard the client materials, the reasonableness of the steps taken will be measured against the technology “available at the time to secure data against unintentional disclosure.”  As technology advances, the third-party vendor’s protective measures may become less secure or obsolete over time.  Accordingly, Lawyer may be required to reevaluate the protective measures used by the third party vendor to safeguard the client materials.

No File Left Behind! Great offer from Carbonite

Have you been procrastinating about a back-up system?  Check out this great offer from Carbonite:

You can win a year of online backup and a laptop in the #BackItUp2012 giveaway.  Visit Carbonite’s Facebook page to enter.

If you get just two friends to sign up, you’ll be entered to win one of:

  • Two finalist prizes: A $100 Visa gift card with a Carbonite Home subscription– so, you can purchase your favorite computer accessory or other item of choice.
  • One GRAND PRIZE: A $100 Visa gift card and a laptop complete with a Carbonite Home subscription!