Confidentiality in the Reception Area

Law firms go to great lengths to maintain confidentiality of their client’s identities. Examples include redacting names on receivable reports given to banks; shredding old client lists; training personnel not to discuss clients in public places or even firm hallways. But what about the reception area?

When the receptionist announces a telephone call to an attorney, does she mention the client by name? Can other clients and visitors in the reception area hear the name being announced?

What about when a new or existing client visits the office and checks in with the receptionist. Does the receptionist contact the attorney and announce, “Your one o’clock appointment is here” or say, “Mr. Divorce client is here” ?

How much of a physical separation and/or sound barrier is there between the receptionist and other visitors waiting in your reception area?

Despite varying efforts to maintain confidentiality elsewhere, the reception area is rarely included on the radar screen of many law firms. Take a fresh look at yours from this perspective. Are there papers and client file folders lying about? Is the information on the computer screen visible? Are names announced over the telephone? Are visitors in close physical proximity? You may find that some modification is called for.

Can you rely on the Get Smart Cone of Silence solution? Sure, as long as no one ever files a complaint! As Clint Eastwood’s cowboy character would say, “Do you feel lucky today?”

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