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“Reasonable Care” in the Cloud: Decision-Making Pointers

Many firms use cloud computing services for remote access to data, email filtering, contacts and calendars, system backups and other hosted IT functions. In particular, lawyers are finding that cloud transfer and storage services (like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud) are a great way to access client materials on their smartphones, tablets or off-site computers when working away from the office. According to state ethics authorities that have spoken on the topic and the American Bar Association Commission on Ethics 20/20, a firm or an individual attorney may store client materials in the cloud ethically, provided that the lawyer takes reasonable care to protect the confidentiality of confidential client information. Most of these opinions explain that “reasonable care” includes learning enough about the technology you chose to use to make an informed decision about where to store client materials and staying up to date on developments in whatever technology you decide to use. Using reasonable care to protect client confidences is nothing new for lawyers, of course—we make decisions about protecting client confidences when we read files on a crowded subway, discuss matters in elevators, decide what can be included in an email, or even take written notes during a conversation. But what might “reasonable care” entail in the context of cloud computing? While admittedly not comprehensive, here is a list to consider. ... Read more

Originally published October 18, 2012
Last updated October 16, 2018
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