March 1st, 2013 by Joshua Lenon
Louisiana is one of the many states that has not offered a formal ethics opinion on lawyers using cloud computing.
In the absence of a formal ethics opinion, lawyers in Louisiana will need to rely on the Rules of Professional Conduct (PDF), issued by the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Rule 1.6 Confidentiality of Information is the most on point rule when discussing the use of cloud computing practice management systems.
Section (a) reads:
“A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b). ” [emphasis added]
Informed consent is defined by the Rules as, “the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.”
Therefore, to comply with the Rules, Louisiana lawyers should notify their clients of their use of Clio and other cloud-based systems. The best practice for this would be including it as a provision in the engagement letter signed by the client, at the beginning of representation. Lawyers should be sure to include information on Clio’s utility and security to make sure clients are adequately informed.
This will give the client a proper understanding of the material risks and document their informed consent.