Practicing Law Securely — Working with the Shared Repository

Bob Blacksberg shares scenarios for working with the Shared Repository, including how it should be coordinated with an internal Document Management System.


30 March 2015

Practicing Law Securely — Be Aware

In the Practicing Law Securely — Living with Links, I discussed why email messages should not contain attachments to sensitive files, but rather, email messages should include links to files kept in a secure shared location, which I refer to as the “Secure Repository.”

For this blog post,  I will share scenarios for working with the Shared Repository, including how the Shared Repository should be coordinated with an internal Document Management System.

Two Scenarios for Working with the Shared Repository

  • Scenario 1 — One Way Transfer: In a one way transfer, an author prepares one or more documents and wishes to deliver them to a third party securely. The document will be deposited in the Secure Repository, either directly or when sending an attachment to the email message. The recipient will receive a message alerting them to the availability of the document(s). In this scenario, the documents will not be subject to further editing or exchange, and the recipient can complete the transfer by downloading the documents from the repository or leaving them in the repository to view.
  • Scenario 2 — Exchange of Drafts: In this second scenario, the author prepares one or more draft documents and sends them to one or more recipients. The recipients will review the drafts and provide suggested / requested changes and accompanying comments and explanations. The author will begin by sending and uploading the draft documents to the repository, and the recipients will receive links. Although the recipients could edit the version of the document in the repository and save it as a new version there, most likely the recipients will download the document, edit and return the new drafts to the original author. The recipients can upload the new version to the Repository, and the original author can download the revision from the Repository. This process can then continue until the drafting of the document has been completed.

An easier process occurs when both the author and recipient have installed the software for the Secure Repository, such as Intralinks VIA®. Then the uploaded documents are synchronized to a local directory for both the author and recipient. The documents, including versions can be retrieved and uploaded to and from the synchronized directories. This usage is very similar to working with other file sharing services and similar programs.

That process can also work with multiple recipients. All participants must be careful to name their copies of documents distinctly to avoid confusion. That issue applies to exchange of email attachments; good naming helps all participants whether in email alone or using a Secure Repository.

How Should Use of the Secure Repository Be Coordinated with Internal Document Management System?

Working with both a Document Management System (DMS) and a Secure Repository requires a greater degree of care and handling than described above.

Sometimes, the Secure Repository may be incorporated in the internal DMS. The system may permit a link to be shared to specific documents with persons outside the firm. Law practices may have concerns about administering a system that includes both internal users and outsiders. Licensing fees may also be an issue.

  • Scenario 1: The coordination between DMS and the Secure Repository is relatively simple in Scenario 1. No further drafts of the documents are expected to be stored in the DMS. The desired documents would be copied out of the DMS and attached to email messages. When sent, the copies are posted to the Secure Repository and links sent to the recipients. The documents might also be copied out of the DMS to a synchronized folder that automatically posts them to the Secure Repository. DMS software usually incorporates an “Attach from DMS” function in the email, such as the “Attach File” button in NetDocuments.
  • Scenario 2: The challenge in the exchange of documents back and forth between author and recipient using a Secure Repository and a DMS is to keep the versions together and version history of the document intact in the DMS. Many lawyers experience the challenge of saving email attachments with proposed revisions back to the source document. That issue will apply to documents transmitted through Secure Repositories. When the documents have different names, such as those used to identify the reviewer and version, it can take several manual steps to reunite the document with its source in the DMS.

These issues deserve further attention as Secure Repositories are developed.

Information Rights Management

In my next blog post, I will explore what Information Rights Management does and how it is incorporated in the Secure Repository to offer full lifecycle control over documents.



Robert L. Blacksberg Esq.

Robert L. Blacksberg Esq.

Bob’s experience spans more than two decades of technology leadership for lawyers, following a law practice that included partnerships at two Philadelphia law firms. Bob is principal of Blacksberg Associates, LLC and leads engagements with law firms in strategic technology planning and implementation, creates and delivers CLE training programs, and works with leading technology vendors to explain, promote and train leading-edge technology products for lawyers. An author and speaker, Bob has appeared at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference and on ILTA Roadshows.