Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Risk Opinion: Conflicts & Cloud Commentaries

Two interesting updates on always-hot topics. First is another conflicts allegation in the news. Once again we see a story and media commentary about public attention focused on behavior which may or may not trip actual professional/ethical rules:

"Bill Lockyer's outside legal work an obvious conflict of interest" --
  • "California's ethics laws need a major overhaul in 2014. That need is made clear not only by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer's taking a side job with a major law firm while he serves out more than a year in his elected term, but also because there is no prohibition in the law against him doing so. And, there's little in the state's disclosure requirements to make Lockyer publicly account for what he'll being doing for his new employer, Boston-based Brown Rudnick LLP."
  • "Lockyer, naturally said all the right things about the new job. He'll avoid conflicts. His priority's being treasurer. What did you expect him to say?"
  • "Brown Rudnick didn't hire a former attorney general to work on little matters. They got a former attorney general to make it rain by using his considerable influence and connections to hook big clients and add his reputation -- built at taxpayer expense -- to major cases."
  • "The conflict in this is inherent. He's doing it anyway. The state pays him $139,000 yearly -- not a lot for someone who could make tons more privately. But to the people who elected him, it is... But Californians should demand higher ethical behavior and disclosure from their elected officials, beginning with this: Lockyer either shouldn't join the law firm until his term ends of he should resign now. The rest of us need to work toward ethics laws that bear actual teeth. Very sharp ones."
And from the New York City Bar comes updated commentary on information security risks and compliance requirements associated with the use of cloud services:

"New York City Bar Report Offers Guidance on Ethical Risks of ‘Leaping Into the Cloud’"--
  • "A New York City bar report on cloud computing points to the travails of Puckett & Faraj, a Virginia law firm, as a 'chilling example' of one of the 'two key risks' posed by the remote-data-storage technology: the possibility of a security breach that results in the unauthorized disclosure of confidential client communications."
  • "Each lawyer will have a different view of the competing risks of hackers and provider outages, on the one hand, and convenience of access and protection from natural or other 'local' disasters, on the other.
  • "'With the Cloud becoming more ubiquitous, with clients demanding more responsiveness from their counsel, the question changes--from 'whether to go to the Cloud or manage data through remote access devices …' to 'how to use these tools safely and ethically.'"
  • "The one constant, however, is that a decision must be made thoughtfully, and the lawyer must be prepared to demonstrate to clients, regulators and, perhaps at some point, a court how the decision was reached and what factors went into it."

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