You’ve probably started looking into updating your practice to include the latest in cloud legal case management software. But how do you also make sure you’re also staying on the right side of the ethical requirements when you’re choosing new technology for your firm?
We’re here to help you out with the top seven questions surrounding ethics and the cloud-based legal case management software- and the answers!
Is there firm guidance on ethics and the cloud?
Yes! The Ethics Committees of many state bar associations have already provided guidance for the technologically innovative law firm. So far, 20 states have issued Ethics Opinions on Cloud Computing, so check your State’s Ethics Committee to help you when choosing your cloud-based legal case management software.
Do the ethics rules permit lawyers to use the cloud?
Yes! Lawyers can use the cloud and cloud-based legal case management software. Every State Ethics Committee to take up the issue of cloud computing has concluded that the use of cloud-based systems is permitted by their version of Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6, which addresses Confidentiality. Model Rule 1.6 states (in part), “A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent…” While each state has its own version of Model Rule 1.6, the differences are minor, and the meaning is the same.
Is the cloud confidential?
In short. Yes. Confidentiality is important; we’ll discuss later how to make sure you choose a secure cloud platform when picking your cloud-based legal case management software. But should the unthinkable happen, the law does allow for this. The New Jersey Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics neatly captured the reality of the situation by stating that maintaining confidences doesn’t mean making information absolutely invulnerable;
“a lawyer can no more guarantee against unauthorized access to electronic information than he can guarantee that a burglar will not break into his file room...” N.J. Opinion 701 (2006)
Are there any ethical requirements for using the cloud and cloud-based legal case management software?
Yes, with cloud-based matter management software for legal departments, you are held to the same standard as in all other instances relating to the maintenance of client confidences — reasonable care. The Ethics Committees have provided some guidance; check your state’s guidelines for the specifics that relate to you.
How can lawyers make complying easier?
Fortunately, the major secure cloud platform providers, such as Microsoft Azure, have made complying with many of these guidelines relatively easy by obtaining numerous industry and government data security certifications, including HIPAA/HITECH. These certifications go a long way to meeting a lawyer’s ethical requirements. Microsoft Azure also complies with requirement seven – they do not disclose any data without either your consent or a properly executed warrant.
Will any cloud-based legal case management software do?
No! When selecting a cloud-based system for your legal practice management, you should be looking at only those designed specifically for your field. Certain products have been designed specifically for law firms by lawyer-led teams; this means that client confidentiality, data security, and ethical compliance is built into the very DNA of these systems.
To take your first step towards a secure, ethically compliant, easy-to-use cloud-based legal case management software, sign up for a CloudLex® free demo today and experience the best case management software for personal injury attorneys!