Recently, Connecticut became the 19th state to issue a written Ethics opinion addressing the simple question: Can lawyers use cloud computing services, and if so, how? Short answer: YES, provided they are reasonable and diligent.
The 5 page opinion is worth reading, even just to get a sense of the current thinking on lawyers’ use of cloud computing services. The Connecticut Bar Association, in its 5 page opinion (PDF file), recognized that lawyers “use cloud services … to promote mobility, flexibility, organization and efficiency.” In other words, lawyers want to practice law out of the office more often, and to reap the benefits flowing from Internet-based technologies.
In Informal Opinion 2013-07, the Bar Association also noted that cloud computing is cost-effective. They recognized that cloud computing is a growing trend in many industries and professions, including the legal profession. Of course, they also cited the changes to ABA Model Rules, in particular Comment 8 to Rule 1.1, which admonishes that lawyers must keep up with changes in the law “and its practice,” including “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”
As more lawyers strive to become more mobile with their law practices, cloud computing is clearly “relevant technology” covered by the ABA comment to Rule 1.1. Still, it’s nice to have confirmation that—if properly used and monitored—cloud computing is acceptable for lawyers. The Connecticut Bar wrapped up its opinion by pointing out that the 18 other states who’ve taken up the question have all reached the same conclusion. The final footnote of the opinion includes a list of all the other states’ opinions.
The ABA also has a handy map/chart of states opinions on cloud computing (their map lists only 14 states, and as of this post, doesn’t include the Connecticut opinion).
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