December 26th, 2011 by Gwynne Monahan
2011 saw cloud computing take center stage in the legal ethics arena.
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 published its recommendations on amending ethics rules related to Client Confidentiality Issues Raised by New Technologies, and state bar associations came out with ethics opinions in favor of lawyers use of cloud computing.
The state bars of Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina and, most recently, Oregon, joined the state bars of Arizona, New Jersey, Main and New York in issuing ethics opinions on lawyers use of cloud computing services. Bob Ambrogi put it best in his Catalyst post, “Two New Legal Ethics Opinions Suggest Clear Skies Ahead for Cloud Computing:”
it is ethical for lawyers to store client documents in the cloud and use cloud-based applications, provided the lawyers take reasonable safeguards to ensure the safety and security of the data.
In other words, lawyers need to perform due diligence for client confidentiality and security of data as with anything else. And instead of presenting a list of restrictions, bar associations, so far, have opted to offer guidance on what to look for in a cloud computing provider. From data backup to retrieval, security audits to notification of unauthorized access and areas in between. One can see that bar associations are making an effort no to outright restrict their members use of new technologies that help them continue to be zealous advocates for their clients.
In addition to Ambrogi’s post, Beverly Mitchell has a nice write up of Oregon’s recent ethics opinion on cloud computing, and Internet for Lawyers has a nice summary complete with links to current bar association opinions on cloud computing.
It will be interesting to see the Ethics 20/20 Commission’s final proposals in 2012, and other bar association ethics opinions related to cloud computing, and technology, too.