The proliferation of new communication tools poses opportunities and challenges for law firms and their clients. On the one hand, they can be a boon for productivity. But they also present substantial risks to data security — and effective communication — because of their informal nature. Instant messaging is just one technology with these potential dangers.

The benefits of IM in the workplace are plentiful. Users have virtually instant feedback. Co-workers in different locations can work on projects as if they are in the same room and the informal nature of the communication helps workers develop strong bonds. Chatting via IM can resolve issues and answer questions more quickly than the telephone or even traditional e-mail.

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