King and Spalding Does Right IT Thing, Blocks Personal Email

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By William Peacock, Esq. on April 22, 2013 12:01 PM

Though it may seem a bit heavy-handed to tech-savvy users, and though the email restriction has left Joe Patrice at Above the Law practically apoplectic, King & Spalding did the right thing last week by announcing that as of May 1, they will block access to personal email accounts on work computers.

No Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook, or Yahoo! at work? Whatever will those poor lawyers do?

They could start by using their work email accounts. And for those little excursions into personal space, they almost certainly have smartphones.

From an IT perspective, it is often best to plan for the lowest common denominator amongst your employees. Yes, nine out of ten of your associates know enough not to click a link in a spam email. That still leaves one employee who can take down the entire system. We won't even start on technophobic partners who barely know what a PC is.

It's not just viruses either. Big firms have big clients and big cases. There is a lot at stake, financially, and a lot of data to keep private. Workers will often be tempted to use their personal email to send files back and forth, as consumer email services, like the new web version of Outlook.com or Gmail, are far more convenient than the relic that is corporate Microsoft Outlook.

If you are the IT guy at a law firm, it's hard enough to secure your own email servers. You don't want to have to worry about a user-created security issue stemming from confidential files being passed along some new associate's Yahoo! account.

Besides, all of the uproar over King & Spaulding's email blockade is a wee bit ridiculous. Like we said, there's always the option of picking up your smartphone. Also, the firm is setting up a wireless network that will allow users unrestricted access to the Internet, including personal email, though they are only allowed to do so on their own devices.

Users get their Nigerian email scams. The law firm's systems and data remain secure. It sounds like the perfect compromise.

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