Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ethics Opinions: Little Fluffy Clouds, Lost Little Thumb Drives...

Today, several stories about technology-driven law firm risk issues. (And a reminder to take our five minute, reader survey.)

Cloud Computing:
  • The Pennsylvania Bar joins several jurisdictions in publishing new ethics opinions on cloud computing: "Formal Opinion 2011-200, Ethical Obligations For Attorneys Using Cloud Computing/Software As A Service While Fulfilling The Duties Of Confidentiality And Preservation Of Client Property." In keeping with conventional wisdom, they support cloud storage of client information so long as information is kept confidential and reasonable safeguards are employed.
  • Iowa has issued a similar opinion on lawyer use of cloud services: "Iowa lawyers may store client information and other data on a third-party vendor's servers rather than their own computers, so long as the lawyer has unfettered access to the data and can reasonably verify that sound methods are being used to protect the information..."
  • The Daily Record has posted an interesting opinion piece on current industry thinking on the topic: "Legal Currents: Is a cloud backlash on the horizon?" The article is written by a lawyer currently writing a book on the topic for the ABA: "My hope is that I’m wrong, and that if the ABA Committee on Ethics and Responsibility does address the issue of consent when using any form of electronic communication, it concludes that the standard applicable to unencrypted email communications should likewise apply to the use of cloud computing platforms, which are inherently more secure than email."
Managing Ever-Shrinking Physical Data Storage:
  • "Discarded laptops, flash drives create ethical obligations for lawyers" – "A recent Florida Bar opinion advising that lawyers have an ethical duty to sanitize their storage devices has put a spotlight on how attorneys handle their discarded equipment...While some had expressed concern that the opinion would set unrealistic requirements, Tarbert [Florida Bar Ethics Counsel] said the committee didn't receive any feedback at all from the state's lawyers when the opinion was made available for public comment."

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