Do Lawyers Need Encrypted Messaging Apps for Client Communications?

Young woman using cell phone to send text message on social network at night. Closeup of hands with computer laptop in background
By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 20, 2019 1:00 PM

Isn't it a no-brainer that lawyers need encrypted messaging for client communications?

First of all, everybody knows lawyers are supposed to protect client confidences. Secondly, attorneys should know they have an ethical duty to be technologically competent.

Put one and two together, and you get your answer. The real question: what are the best encrypted messaging apps for lawyer-client communications?

Best Apps

The people at Heimdal Security do cybersecurity for a living. In a recent article, Ioana Rejentu listed some of the best apps out there for encrypted messaging. Facebook Messenger, Skype and Snapchat are not on the list. The following are:

Rejentu says Telegram is "one of the most secure messaging platforms." Features include a self-destruct function that deletes messages on communicating devices, and secret chats that are device-specific and not stored on the cloud.

Signal's product gets a nod because WIRED magazine recommends it. Not that name-dropping is an endorsement, but Eric Snowden apparently uses it.

Pryvate Now won "Best Business - Best Mobile App" a few years ago, says Rejentu. She says the app offers "world-class" encryption tech, with the same features as the other best apps on the list. They are all free.

Best Apps?

"Best," of course, is a relative term. The most popular apps may not be the best for lawyers.

David M. Buddingh, president and general counsel for Encrypted Information Exchange, helped create a messaging app designed for lawyers. EIE Legal, he says, offers an encrypted, "unalterable record of all text conversations."

"EIE Legal is the only cloud-based messaging app that offers the ease of the messaging apps you know, and encrypts all messages and creates a record of text communications in real time," he says. "Lawyers and clients can also share encrypted notes, photos, videos, and documents and easily reference them at any time."

Just because lawyer's use an encrypted app, however, is no guarantee of cybersecurity. WhatsApp, which boasts 1.5 billion users on its platform, recently had to scramble to patch a flaw that breached a lawyer's cell phone.

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