July 9th, 2012 by Gwynne Monahan
Cloud computing and ethics. Always a hot topic.
The Massachusetts Bar Association recently added itself to the growing list of other bar associations that have issued ethics opinions stating that lawyers use of cloud computing is ethical. Robert Ambrogi has a good post on Catalyst Secure about the ethics opinion, including a list of other cloud computing ethics opinions:
- North Carolina 2011 Formal Ethics Opinion 6
- Pennsylvania Formal Opinion 2011-200
- California Formal Opinion No. 2010-179
- Alabama State Bar Ethics Opinion 2010-02
- Arizona State Bar Formal Opinion 09-04
- Nevada State Bar Formal Opinion No. 33
- New York State Bar Association Opinion 842 of 2010
The opinion lays out the ethical responsibilities, performing due diligence in researching and choosing a cloud computing provider and following “any express instructions from his clients against the use of cloud services to store their data,” cautioning that a lawyer “should refrain from storing or transmitting particularly sensitive client information by means of the Internet without first seeking and obtaining the client’s express consent to do so.” The MBA recognizes that while lawyers may understand and appreciate the benefits of cloud computing, some clients may still be uncomfortable.
It seems clear, though, that lawyer use of cloud computing applications is ethical and acceptable. And as cloud computing is used more and more by the general public, few will be uncomfortable and, instead, expect the same benefits for their legal matters.