Legal Ethics

Should Firms Store Client Data on the Net?

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Interest in “cloud computing” is picking up steam among lawyers for several good reasons. Proponents say its advantages center on economy, simplicity and accessibility.

Cloud computing—also known as software as a service, or SaaS—is, in essence, a sophisticated form of remote electronic data storage on the Internet. Unlike traditional methods that maintain data on a computer or server at a law office or other place of business, data stored “in the cloud” is kept on large servers located elsewhere and maintained by a vendor.

That means the vendor—not the firm—purchases, maintains and updates hardware and software, and the firm generally pays a monthly fee to the vendor for its services. More over, data stored in the cloud can be accessed more easily than information maintained on a local network, as long as there is a handy Internet connection.

But some of the advantages of cloud computing also are reasons for lawyers to be cautious about its use. In particular, the fact that client data and work product are stored somewhere outside the direct control of the law firm raises potential ethics concerns about whether the confidentiality and security of the information is adequately protected within the mandates of professional conduct rules for lawyers.

Continue reading “Get Your Head in the Cloud” online in the April ABA Journal

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