The Ethics of Digital Security and On-Line File Sharing

A recent post on Slaw.ca (which was recently selected as the best overall legal blog by Dennis Kennedy‘s Blawggies) by practice management guru Dave Bilinsky brings to light one of the first ethics opinions to be issued on the topic of preserving client confidentiality when offering client file access online. The opinion, which was issued by the State Bar of Arizona, considers the implications of using online “storage and retrieval systems” such as FTP sites, and online collaboration portals like Clio Connect to securely exchange sensitive client records via the internet, stating that:

Lawyers providing an online file storage and retrieval system for client access of documents must take reasonable precautions to protect the security and confidentiality of client documents and information.

In his review of the opinion, Mr. Bilinsky aptly points out that, while electronic file storage/transmission was deemed permissible by the State Bar of Arizona, ┬áthe crux of the opinion centered around “satisfying the duty to take reasonable security precautions”, and urging lawyers to “consider firewalls, password protected schemes, encryption, anti-virus measures, etc.” when designing a secure collection of systems to protect their client information.

As suggested in the ethics opinion, and in our previous posts on the topic of online security, its important for legal professionals to recognize themselves as important components of the total security equation, and accordingly “take the necessary time and energy to become competent or alternatively consult available experts in the field.” Click here to read the full article by Mr. Bilinsky on Slaw.ca.