In an article specially written for Legal Life, Solicitor Maxine Park co-founder of dictation outsourcing firm, DictateNow, explains how crucial confidentiality is for their legal clients and explains how her firm ensures those all-important necessary steps are taken.
To cope with the busy times, during what might yet be a fragile economic recovery there will be a need to outsource business processes, like dictation transcription, rather than increasing the headcount. But in the scramble to outsource are all the potential security risks being assessed and monitored?
Law firms must check the security provided by transcription service providers satisfies their requirements and those of the Data Protection Act (DPA). They should consider every aspect of the service from the encryption used for sending and receiving work; the storage of finished documents to the location of the typists; etc.
Ideally, firms should only outsource work within the European Economic Area (EEA) or countries outside this area that offer levels of data protection that satisfy the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Perhaps the easiest way to comply is to use service providers offering only UK based typists, all of whom have signed confidentiality agreements and are qualified legal secretaries who understand the sensitive nature of everything they hear and type.
The fast turnaround of transcription work will help satisfy the DPA requirement that data should be held no longer than necessary, with less chance of a complaint if data is off-premises for hours not days.
Solicitors Regulation Authority
Outsourcing to businesses in the UK enables law firms to comply more easily with the new guidance from the Solicitors Regulation Authority regarding outsourcing business processes abroad. The SRA requires law firms to contract with outsourcing service providers who allow inspection of electronic records or indeed entry to their premises to obtain information in relation to the outsourced activities.
One wonders who will pay for the SRA inspection team to visit offices overseas should they choose to instigate an inspection.
Choosing a service provider that has a workforce consisting of experienced legal secretaries, with excellent knowledge of working with sensitive data is a good start to limiting any potential risks with data security. Many legal secretaries have recently found work with businesses like DictateNow that can utilise their extensive legal experience.
The DictateNow system encrypts the sound files sent by the client and uses a series of firewalls and other security technologies to protect them. All of our high performance servers sit in secure data centres and hold digital certificates, which allow clients to upload files to our servers using HTTPS & FTPS.
Our bespoke software is based on the years of expertise our developers have gained writing and configuring bank secure trading software for some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
Laptops, mobile phones and tablets are often synchronized to business email accounts and offer criminals easier access to email data. For this reason all documents e-mailed to fee-earners should be sent as password protected files.
Firms should look closely at where any work is undertaken. Not just geographically, but physically. Clients’ sound files sit on our servers, where our typists access them and then type their work directly back onto the servers. At no point does the sound file or finished transcription leave our servers, other than to be returned to the client. The best services will not allow typists to save work to their local PCs.
If you take data security seriously, you need to understand how the workflow system actually works at your service provider.
A trend we expect to grow is the ability for typists to work directly on clients’ systems. Some of our clients upload their sound files to specific areas of their own case management system that can be accessed by our typists. The transcription is performed straight into the case management system and sits on the firms servers, under their control at all times. Our typists can pick up work straight off the server, when a backlog is developing, without the sound file ever leaving the firm’s office.
The decision to outsource dictation to a transcription service provider is not one to be taken lightly; there are potential pitfalls. However, follow these simple guidelines and you will be guaranteed to find a service provider that shares your concerns for security and minimises any potential risks. Use the service wisely and you will improve efficiency and profitability for your law firm, just as many hundreds of legal clients do with DictateNow.
DictateNow is a UK digital dictation and outsourcing company with over 300 typists who are all qualified, experienced, UK-based secretaries. The company provides fast, reliable and confidential digital dictation and transcription services to the legal, accountancy, business, medical, charity sectors as well as to sole practitioners.