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September 28, 2023 3 minutes to read ∙ 700 words

Ask Techie: How Can I Search Through a Ton of Old Documents on My Law Firm Server?

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.

This month we answer readers’ questions about how to find a needle in your haystacks of documents and what tools you can use to securely communicate with your clients over the Internet. 

Q: How Can I Search Through a Ton of Old Documents on My Law Firm Server?

A: Two free Windows searching utilities are what you need. Everything searches file names in a flash. AnyTXT Searcher does full-text searches through all your drives.

Do you need to find an old letter you wrote on a legal issue? Perhaps only your more recent documents are quickly available in your practice management system.

I rely on Everything all the time to find old files by name or partial name. The utility’s creator is in Australia. Everything is so much faster than clicking through folders, even when you know where a file is. Everything is free and well-maintained. It does not bog down the way Windows Search does.

If you want Everything to search the server from your computer, you need to add one or more (or all) of your server folders to the search parameters in Everything by selecting Tools > Options > Folders > Add. You may need to type \\ ServerName to show the server folders.

AnyTXT Searcher is another excellent, free utility. Its creator is in Singapore. AnyTXT Searcher indexes the contents of all the documents in all your drives. You can select which file extensions to include in the indexes. Searching inside documents is fast and flexible. You can search using the symbols & (and), | (or), and ! (not), along with words in quotation marks and parentheses to refine your searches. Just press F1 for Help with advanced searches.

Looking for a needle in your haystacks of documents? The free utilities Everything and AnyTXT Searcher are your friends.

Techie: Wells H. Anderson, JD, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor and CEO of SecureMyFirm, 952/922-1120, www.securemyfirm.com—we protect small firms from cyber threats with affordable, multiple layers of defense.

Q: What System Should I Be Using for Secure Communication with My Clients?

A: When exchanging sensitive information with clients or colleagues, there are a lot of tools you can use to encrypt your communications. Some commonly used tools include:

  • Encrypted email services. If you use Microsoft Outlook, it employs a standard level of encryption. However, you can also use better-encrypted email services such as Proton Mail and Tutanota to send and receive confidential messages securely. If you prefer to stick to Outlook, you can add another level of encryption to the message you are writing by going to File > Properties > Security Settings, and then selecting the checkbox labeled “Encrypt message contents and attachments.” Now, all you need to do is compose your message and hit Send.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs). Lawyers can employ VPN services to establish encrypted connections when accessing the Internet and communicating with clients remotely, ensuring privacy and security.
  • Secure messaging apps. Encrypted messaging apps such as Signal, WhatsApp (with end-to-end encryption), and Wickr provide secure messaging and can be used for client communication.
  • Client portals. Lawyers can set up secure client portals that allow clients to log in and access their case-related information, communicate securely, and share confidential documents.
  • Videoconferencing. You can use secure videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom (with end-to-end encryption), Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex for virtual meetings and discussions with clients.
  • Encrypted cloud storage. Check out secure cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and iCloud.

Lawyers need to stay aware of the tools out there for secure communications and incorporate them into their daily practice.

Techie: Ashley Hallene, JD, GPSolo eReport Editor-in-Chief ([email protected]).

What’s YOUR question?

If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin ([email protected]) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Matthew Murrell. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.

Please send in your questions today!

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Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 13, Number 2, September 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.