Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Law Firm HIPAA Survey Now Underway

We have a new risk survey underway, focusing on how law firms are responding to the new HIPAA Omnibus Rule which mandates new standards for safeguarding client protected health information in their role as Business Associates.

This brief survey is designed to better understand the approaches firms are taking to achieve compliance by the September 23rd enforcement deadline. Answers will be collected for the next two weeks, and participants will receive a copy of the analysis report shortly thereafter.

We've reached out directly to key stakeholders at Risk Roundtable participant firms and other organizations. If you have not received an invitation and would like to participate, please send a message to

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hinshaw & Culbertson Leverages Software to Address 2013 HIPAA Rules Affecting Law Firms

We've been covering the new 2013 HIPAA Omnibus Rules with great interest, given the pending September compliance deadline. Firms continue to take action. Hinshaw & Culbertson, a national law firm with a top-ranked professional responsibility, legal malpractice and professional liability practice group, leverages IntApp Wall Builder and IntApp Activity Tracker to satisfy the access control and audit requirements of the 2013 HIPAA Omnibus Rule.

Said Hinshaw Assistant General Counsel Steve Puiszis:
  • "As our firm advises multiple peer law firms on issues relating to professional responsibility and risk management, we considered it imperative to focus our own HIPAA compliance efforts to maintain the excellent standard of care we deliver to our clients. IntApp Wall Builder and IntApp Activity Tracker play a central role in our HIPAA compliance strategy, as technical controls that enable us to secure and track matters containing PHI without disrupting lawyer productivity or collaboration."
Added Hinshaw Director of Information Technology Jim Devereux:
  • "IntApp Activity Tracker will not only enable our firm to address the audit requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule, but also alert my team of any abnormal access to sensitive documents that may signal a pending lateral lawyer departure. Activity Tracker is a must have for law firms looking to mitigate information risk and verify compliance with access policies and procedures."
Pat Archbold, Head of IntApp's Risk Practice Group noted:
  • "We’re delighted to highlight Hinshaw’s leadership in risk management and compliance. Law firms working to address the new HIPAA requirements can look to Hinshaw as a standard for effective compliance."
  • "We invite any firm interested in learning more to visit this link to learn more about how we assist with HIPAA compliance for law firms, and to watch our recorded panel webinar on compliance requirements and strategies."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Canadian Conflicts - Supreme Court Revisits Rules

Simon Chester, Partner in the Litigation and Business Law groups of Heenan Blaikie and frequent Risk Roundtable contributor, wrote in with news of: Canadian National Railway Co. v. McKercher LLP, the "fourth significant decision on conflicts of interest, the scope of duties of loyalty, and the appropriate division of responsibility between courts and law societies as regulators of professional conduct. It rejected arguments for liberalizing the so-called bright-line rule, but clarified its operation."

Simon has written two articles on the topic, offering excellent background and analysis. See first: "Bright Line Rule Remains the Standard for Canadian Conflicts of Interest Law" --
  • The case reopened the “bright-line rule” and the so-called “professional litigant exception, ” formulated by former Justice Ian Binnie in R. v. Neil, and re-affirmed in Strother v. 3464920 Canada Inc. It provides:
    … a lawyer may not represent one client whose interests are directly adverse to the immediate interests of another current client — even if the two mandates are unrelated — unless both clients consent after receiving full disclosure (and preferably independent legal advice), and the lawyer reasonably believes that he or she is able to represent each client without adversely affecting the other. (Neil, para. 29);
  • "The new Supreme Court decision holds that the McKercher firm crossed the bright line, that it breached both its duties of commitment and candour. It remits the case back to the Court of Queen's Bench to determine whether disqualification was an appropriate remedy."  
And also: "The Meaning of Wallace – a Summary of Its Key Holdings," for much more extensive review, including commentary from Malcolm Mercer at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, who represented the Canadian Bar Association, who was quoted elsewhere saying: "The result is a great one for advocates of choice, because the court ruled that clients were free to choose their lawyers and lawyers were free to act for them unless there was a real risk of mischief."