Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New York Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion citing Rules 1.4 and 16 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct

The New York Committee on Professional Ethics follows the same logic in Opinion No. 842, in holding that using an outside online storage provider for confidential client information is fine, so long as the lawyer takes reasonable care to ensure confidentiality will be maintained.

With bank-level encryption, confidentiality agreements, and password-protected, user-controlled access; Online Legal Software treats your data with the safety and security it needs 

Monday, January 28, 2013

State Bar of Nevada Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion citing Nevada Supreme Court Rule 156

In a brief synopsis of the evolution of electronic media and resources by various bar association (and the growing acceptance of the same), the State Bar of Nevada held in formal opinion no. 33, that the attorney’s responsibility was to exercise reasonable care in the selection of the third-party contractor; has a reasonable expectation of confidentiality; and instructs and requires the contractor to keep the information confidential and inaccessible. 

Nevada attorneys can be confident with Online Legal Software.  With over twenty years of providing legal software and services to attorneys, they can trust we are no neophytes in the field.  Online Legal Software provides bank-level encryption to ensure your data remains secure, in US-based servers and our promise of confidentiality is right there in our agreement with you. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Massachusetts Bar Association Ethics Opinion 12-03

In one of the most recent opinions on the subject, the Massachusetts Bar Association, in opinion 12-03, gave no direct guidance to Massachusetts attorneys, but did, as in other states, emphasize that the attorneys’ responsibility was to ensure their data was reasonably safe from unauthorized access, interception, and there was not an unreasonable risk of inadvertent disclosure; specifically, that the cloud provider kept the data secure, private, and prevented unauthorized access.

Online Legal Software understands the need to protect sensitive data and takes this responsibility as serious as you do.  We utilize bank-level security and encryption, unique user-passwords, and US-based servers and backup servers.  You can be confident in your choice of providers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Iowa State Bar Association Committee on Ethics and Practice Guidelines Ethics Opinion 11-01

Iowa specifically considered “software as a service” (Saas) in Ethics Opinion 11-01.  In holding that the attorney would need to do due diligence in using any Saas, the opinion gave “basic guidance” in the forms of questions that should be asked:

Legal issues; including, but not limited to, the track record of the company, where it is located, choice of law and venue.
Financial Obligation
Password Protection and public access
Data Encryption

Iowa attorneys can be confident in Online Legal Software.  Our contract makes clear that your data is yours.  As a US-based company, with over twenty years of providing software to attorneys, our track records speaks for itself.  Online Legal Software doesn't play games with random choice of law, or venue clauses, or impose onerous obligations to cancel or retrieve your data, in the unlikely event of cancellation.  Most importantly, we ensure your data is secured; with bank-level encryption and password-protected access.  You don’t have to worry with us.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Are there any Texas ethical opinions on cloud-computing?

Texas has not issued any opinions specifically dealing with cloud computing; however, the Professional Ethics Committee of the state has issued certain opinions that raise parallels to the subject and support its propriety.

Opinion Number 572 (2006), deals with the duty of an attorney using an independent copy service.  Although cloud-computing raises additional issues not raised in the mere copying of documents; the basic premise is similar – in both, the attorney is outsourcing certain tasks to outside providers, not directly controlled by the attorney, who may then come into contact with confidential information.

The Committee held that unless the attorney’s client specifically instructed otherwise, there was no issue raised by using outside vendors, so long as the attorney “reasonably expects” the vendor will keep the materials confidential.  The best way to ensure this, says the Committee, is a written agreement wherein the vendor agrees to keep the materials confidential.

Online Legal Software, of course, has such an agreement.  In addition, we maintain your data in US-based primary and backup servers with bank-level encryption.  You can reasonably expect us to keep your data secure and confidential.

Friday, January 18, 2013

State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct Formal Opinion 2010-179

Given its position as one of the prime information technology centers of the country, it is unsurprising that the State Bar of California has weighed in on the ethical use of cloud computing systems by attorneys.

California addressed the issue in the context of a larger opinion of electronic devices and communications; in Formal Opinion No. 2010-179, the Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct set forth a list of factors to consider before using any technology:

The  attorney’s  ability  to  assess  the  level  of  security  afforded  by  the  technology, specifically: (i) Consideration of hoe the particular technology differs from other media use; (ii) Whether reasonable precautions may be taken when using the technology to increase the level of security; (iii) Limitations of who is permitted to monitor the use of the technology, to what extent and on what grounds.

The legal ramifications to third parties of intercepting, accessing or exceeding authorized use of another person’s electronic information;

The degree of sensitivity of the information;

Possible impact on the client of an inadvertent disclosure of privileged or confidential information or work product

The urgency of the situation

Client instructions and circumstances

While it is clear that California attorneys using any electronic products and devices must be mindful of the risks of disclosure; they can rest assured that use of Online Legal Software mitigates some of these risks for them: bank-level security and domestic, American-based servers and backups, covered by American law, ensure data is secure and protected. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

State Bar of Arizona Ethics Committee Opinions

The State Bar of Arizona Ethics Committee has addressed the issues raised in cloud-based solutions in a series of Ethics Opinions.  

Specifically, Arizona has addressed the issue of online storage.  Of course, issues of online storage go beyond just practice management software - virtually every e-mail program stores at least some of your data on-line and the growing trend is for more and more of the programs you may use everyday (such as word processing and accounting software) to store data online.

Frankly, if the computer sitting on your desk is connected to the Internet (and now-a-days, few are not), it is accessible over the Internet.

Given this reality, it is not surprising that when Arizona gave consideration to the issue of electronic storage in Ethics Opinion 05-04, the Ethics Committee held that electronic storage of client files is permissible, as long as the attorney takes competent and reasonable steps to safeguard client confidences.  

This opinion was clarified and expanded by the Arizona Ethics Committee in Ethics Opinion 09-04, which held that having online access documents was fine – again, so long as reasonable steps were taken to safeguard client data – SSL encryption and passwords were considered reasonable steps.  

Online Legal Software uses bank-level encryption  while every user has password-protected access to the system.  Your data is safe with us.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Alabama Ethics Opinion 2010-02

The Alabama Disciplinary Commission, in Ethics Opinions 2010-02, updated their views on the responsibilities of Alabama attorneys vis-à-vis client file retention, storage, and destruction, and in so doing, examined the use of cloud computing by attorneys in the state.

The Commission held that and maintenance for Alabama attorneys held that “a lawyer may use “cloud computing” or third‐party providers to store client data provided that the attorney exercises reasonable care in doing so.”  Id. at 16.  Reasonable care, as defined by the Commission, means the attorney has to understand how the provider will handle storage and security of the data and that the provider will maintain confidentiality.  Id.  The Commission also held that electronic data must be capable of being reproduced in paper format.  Id.

Online Legal Software uses bank-level encryption to ensure your data is safe and secure.  Our servers are located in different areas of the United States; your data never leaves the country and is never vulnerable to a local catastrophe.  Online Legal Software is committed to holding your data safe, secure, and confidential.  The data you input in Online Legal Software can always be printed; our reports allow you to create printed copies on demand and with the press of a button.   

Friday, January 11, 2013

Is cloud-computing ethical?

One question we are often asked at Online Legal Software is whether attorneys’ use of the cloud and cloud-based software is allowed under current ethics rules.  The answer, from every state that has addressed the issue, is YES.

As of December 2012, eleven states have issued formal advisory opinions that specifically discuss the propriety of cloud-based services that use the web and external servers for information storage, such as Online Legal Software.  Several other states and the American Bar Association have addressed the issue briefly or in connection with other opinions.

To help attorneys in their decision-making, we will present these ethical opinions in turn.  Even though your state may not have issued an ethical opinion, the trend seems clear: cloud-computing and online practice management systems, like Online Legal Software, are ethical and practical ways to manage your practice.