Wednesday, October 30, 2013

California's opinion on cloud-computing by attorneys

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 how 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
None of these criteria stand out as being unusual or otherwise not in accordance with what has come to be seen as the general consensus on cloud computing.  Put simply, an attorney has to act reasonably.  If they don't understand the technology, they have to educate themselves, and they have to know the data is secure and safe.

With individualized one-on-one training (done by a human, not videos over the internet) and U.S. based servers, attorneys can feel confident trusting their data with Online Legal Software.