Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Report from Last Week's Risk Roundtable Meeting (Texas)

Last week, a Risk Roundtable session was held in Houston, Texas. Many thanks to Baker Botts for hosting. Brian Lynch delivered a presentation updating attendees on current risk issues and trends, and moderated group discussion. He kindly sent an update summarizing some of the group discussion:
  • Dan – Here’s a brief update on our recent Roundtable meeting. We explored a variety of issues complicating the law firm risk landscape, including: new business intake requirements, lateral hire vetting, foreign office regulations, and enterprise search (and the demise of security through obscurity).
  • Texas is the only state in the Union where a firm can represent clients who are adverse to each other, but not in the matter where they are adverse. This conflicts model is consistent with Europe and Canada but not with the other 49 US states. [5/19 - ED: Clarification] This provides opportunities for clients who have much greater choice of counsel. But it does not eliminate the risk of business conflicts.
  • Ethical screening has a high bar in Texas with the Epic Holding decision of 2000 that ruled that there is an "irrebuttable presumption of imputation" when a lateral is brought into a firm with prior knowledge of a party adverse to the new firm's clients. Nonetheless, firms commonly use screens with client consent and are hopeful that the ABA changes to Model Rule 1.10 regarding screening will be adopted by the Texas Bar.
  • Our attendees included risk, technology and knowledge management stakeholders. Their greatest shared priority of the day was responding to internal and client-driven concerns about controlling leakage of confidential information. Several attendees discussed technology measures they put in place to track abnormal activities such as high-volume document downloads, targeted document deletion, or unexpectedly frequent access to deal-specific documents.
  • Challenges linked to social media, portable technology, and the newest generation of lawyers' perception of privacy were also topics of active discussion, as firms Look to cultivate a culture of risk awareness.
A Toronto Risk Roundtable session will be announced shortly. Watch this space for more details.

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