Tennessee weighs in on the ethics of cloud computing
Lawyers have been using cloud computing, where law firm data is stored on servers owned and maintained by a third party, for years now. But as is often the case with new technologies, it takes a while for ethics committees to address the potential ethical issues lawyers face when incorporating new technology tools into their practices.
Earlier this month, Tennessee joined many other jurisdictions across the country and considered the ethics of lawyers using cloud computing in Formal Ethics Opinion 2015-F-159 (online: www.tbpr.org/ethic_opinions/2015-f-159).
At issue was whether lawyers may store confidential client information “in the cloud.” In reaching its decision, the Ethics Committee thoroughly reviewed the opinions issued by other jurisdictions prior to applying the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct to the issue.
From the outset, the committee wisely noted that because technology has changed so rapidly in recent years, a fluid standard was required: “Due to the fact that technology is constantly evolving, this opinion only provides lawyers with guidance in the exercise of reasonable care and judgment regarding the lawyer’s use of cloud technology in compliance with the rules of professional conduct, rather than mandating specific practices regarding the use of such technology.”
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.