Confidentiality And Its Importance in Legal Transcription Services

Confidentiality is one of the most fundamental principles of the legal industry. It helps maintain the integrity of the legal and criminal justice system, and builds trust among everyone involved. Moreover, it encourages open communication between attorneys and clients.

That’s why every process and participant in the system must adhere to the same security and privacy standards. Therefore, confidentiality is crucial in legal transcription to protect sensitive information.

However, not all legal transcription service providers offer the same level of confidentiality and security. And more worrisome, not everyone is willing to spend money on the required level of information security.

Many transcription companies lack essential compliance with regulatory laws and organizations like the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

So, today, we’ll discuss confidentiality in legal transcription. This includes fundamental concepts, potential consequences, and the most effective ways to find a trusted legal transcription company. 

Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege

One of the most central doctrines in law is attorney-client privilege. The concept safeguards the client’s right to disclose all relevant information about them and any ongoing cases. 

Furthermore, it obligates the lawyer to keep that confidential information secure by any means possible. The coverage includes details stated or found during client meetings, during case research, while presenting evidence during the discovery process, and all legal system steps.

Attorney-client privilege is critical. Lawyers are the ones who enlist transcription services and are, therefore, accountable for any security issues resulting from their choice. 

Due to advancements in digital technologies, anybody can get on the internet and offer audio or video transcription services to legal professionals. However, only some service providers have the security measures (or even the capability to implement security measures) that the legal industry requires for data protection. 

A recent survey revealed that 98% of lawyers believe maintaining strict confidentiality standards in legal transcription is crucial for client trust and protection.

Therefore, any transcription process involved in legal proceedings must provide the highest security measures. Any personal data breach can result in untold financial, physical, and emotional damages.

So, if you work for a law firm or are a legal professional, here are the best ways to know if your transcription provider offers secure services. 

Secure File Transfer and Storage

Transcripts are often transferred via the internet, either through email or on a provider’s online platform. 

Transcription companies often employ encryption and secure file transfer protocols (SFTP) to ensure the confidentiality of legal transcripts and documents like deposition and court hearing summaries. 

Security should include detailed reporting and tracking features and strict administrative accesses to manage and define user-level controls as the client requires. As a result, only authorized personnel can access legal transcription files, reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.

Encryption and Password Protection

Transcripts, dictations, legal documents, audio or video content, user names, and passwords should be encrypted to ensure the system can reliably contain sensitive information and prevent data leakage. 

Trusted legal transcription companies should utilize state-of-the-art encryption methods to ensure the security of sensitive data.

Encryption comes in different types but trusted legal transcription services should offer the highest level: AES 256-bit encryption. This type of encryption protects data using a 256-bit-long key, essentially acting like a password to access the files. 

The most common way to break through encryption is through brute-force attacks or attempting to enter every possible combination. It would take four seconds to break a simple seven-letter password using this attack. To break an AES 256-bit encryption key, however, would take brute force attacks much, much longer. How much longer, you ask? 

Current estimates agree that it would take about 22,900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or twenty-two undecillion nine hundred septillion years to break a 256-bit encryption key. To put it into better perspective, it would take significantly longer than the universe’s current age – even with a quantum computer.

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

Another thing to consider when choosing your legal transcription service is their ability and willingness to sign NDAs and other relevant confidentiality agreements. Typically, legal transcriptionists are bound by strict confidentiality agreements to maintain the privacy of client documents. 

Furthermore, staff within the company are also asked to sign the same NDA, irrespective of their roles and positions. This creates a more secure, reliable transcription business process, giving legal clients peace of mind. Any transcription service unwilling to sign an NDA should immediately be taken out of consideration. 

Confidentiality Training for Transcriptionists

Any company can have the latest security features, the best encryption, and the most bullet-proof NDA. However, those mean nothing if the transcribers themselves are a liability. 

Typing speed and listening skills can be developed. Anyone who has focused on legal terminology for a long enough time can learn it. Knowledge of legal processes comes with the territory. Morals, however, are an entirely different but equally important matter. 

The transcription company needs to be able to weed out the best candidates with the strongest ethical foundations. And that means conducting stringent background checks for incoming legal transcriptionists to protect their clients’ data. 

Legal transcription services maintain a confidentiality rate of 99.9% for all client information. That means at most, only 0.1% of confidential documents handled by legal transcriptionists are accidentally leaked or compromised. 

Will Removing The Human Element Make Transcription More Secure?

Some providers may claim that human-powered transcription has too many security risks. So, they peddle automated transcription as if it were the answer to confidentiality. Unfortunately, information gathered by AI is fed back into the program to be used as training data. And, we’ve already had big problems with AI privacy and security. 

Human-powered transcription services are the ideal solution for professionals looking for the best of everything: highly accurate results, fast turnaround times, affordable rates, excellent customer service, rigorous security standards, and relevant regulatory compliance, which we’ll discuss now. 

Compliance with Privacy Laws and Regulations

I briefly touched upon this subject earlier, and now we’ll discuss it further. You see, there are a lot of “professional transcription” providers out there that offer solutions for legal transcription needs but don’t have the necessary regulatory requirements to operate. Their usual reason is that investments in security features and regulatory compliance status can be costly. Unfortunately, a company willing to skimp on something as crucial as security is not a company you can trust. 

Any transcription company operating within the legal industry will handle materials and documents about criminal justice or healthcare. As a result, they need to get CJIS compliant. The same goes for medical transcription companies, which must be HIPAA compliant. 

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a law that aims to protect sensitive healthcare information. The Office for Civil Rights, a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services division, enforces HIPAA and its various security requirements. 

CJIS, or the Criminal Justice Information Services, is a division of the FBI tasked with handling and protecting all criminal justice information. The CJIS has a different set of specific requirements for information protection.

Compliance with confidentiality regulations, such as HIPAA and CJIS, is essential in legal transcription to avoid legal consequences and maintain client trust. A CJIS- and HIPAA-compliant transcription service provider, like Ditto Transcripts, can give practitioners in the legal profession the highest security guarantee in the industry. 

Consequences of Insufficient Security In Transcription

Security is an integral part of today’s “always online” environment. Legal transcription security requires elevated attention because the consequences of data breaches from legal documents can be far-reaching and costly for everyone involved. Let’s take a look at some of them.

  • Disbarment: Legal professionals are expected to operate within the law’s narrow confines at every opportunity. They must uphold the ethics and standards of confidentiality of their practice. Failing to do so can lead to their license and status being stripped. 
  • Lawsuits: It doesn’t matter if the breach in data security was an intentional attack or resulted from negligence; the party from which the data was taken is responsible. This can expose them to severe legal action from affected parties.  
  • Damage in reputation: Approximately 95% of law firms prioritize confidentiality when selecting a legal transcription provider. That’s because any law firm with a reputation for poor data security has an uphill battle in getting and retaining clients ahead of them. 
  • Financial loss: Fixing a data breach—launching an investigation, finding the source and perpetrator, and completely reimplementing security protocols—will cost time and money. Additionally, operational disruptions will also cause opportunity losses. 

Conclusion

Don’t fall for cheap transcription services without sufficient measures to protect you or your clients. Always choose the ones with the highest and most rigorous security protocols, the right training and experience, and relevant regulatory compliance. 

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA-compliant and CJIS-compliant Denver, Colorado-based transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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