Sharing office space with other lawyers outside your firm presents unique challenges to protecting client privacy. Here are some technical issues to consider.
Your office local area network (LAN) is a potential source of compromised privacy. Information sent down a LAN cable from your computer could be seen by one of your co-tenants on their computer. Compromises can also arise from co-tenants storing documents on the same file server. Both of these issues can be overcome. The LAN can be segregated into multiple virtual LANs (VLANs), thus isolating each co-tenant’s network traffic from other tenants’ traffic. Each co-tenant should either have a private file server or use cloud-based storage.
It is possible for a computer on a WiFi network to see data transmitted or received by other computers on the same network, even if the network is password protected. Remember, it’s the same network and the same password. To resolve this, your WiFi network can be segregated into multiple SSIDs, which is a similar concept to the VLANs described above.
Leaving a document in the output tray of a shared printer is another potential problem because one of your co-tenants could easily walk by and pick it up. Printer manufacturers are addressing this issue with some innovative solutions. For example, Hewlett-Packard has a service called Secure Print, which holds print jobs until an authorized user comes to the printer and releases them. The service even works with non-HP printers.
For more ideas on protecting client privacy in shared offices, see How to protect client confidences in a shared office suite (ABA 2002).