Verdict - Spring 2016 - (Page 12)

> FEATURE STORY Law Practice and Cloud Computing Staying Ethical in a Digital World BY JAMES STONE s we journey deeper into the digital age, it becomes increasingly more important for law firms and lawyers to understand the ins and outs of managing the electronically stored confidential client data in their firms. This applies to the large corporate law firms as well as your run-of-the-mill solo practitioner shops. Large corporate law firms have internal IT 1) Can a lawyer/law firm use cloud computing departments who handle those needs so that or SaaS (Software as a Service) to store their lawyers can spend their time working for confidential client data with a third party their clients and producing revenue. As for the provider? small firm or solo-practitioner, the burden of managing that aspect of the firm often falls 2) What measures must a lawyer take to ensure client data remains secure? data would immediately jeopardize client confidentiality. However, as with most rules, there are always exceptions. Those states that have issued formal opinions regarding cloud computing and SaaS are unanimous in holding that a onto someone (a lawyer or other staff member) While the first question is important, this lawyer must use "reasonable care" when using who is likely to be less familiar about the finer article primarily focuses on the latter question cloud computing to store confidential client points of cybersecurity and data management. and includes some examples that Alabama, data. The "reasonable care" standard has yet This article is meant to assist those less privy Florida, and North Carolina provide so that the to be universally defined with regard to cloud to IT security and provides some steps those attorneys practicing in those states can take computing and SaaS, and thus does not afford lawyers and law firms can take in order to the proper measures to ensure their confidential lawyers much assistance in determining what safeguard electronically stored confidential client data remains safe and secure. Moreover, the required level of care truly is. client data. attorneys practicing in Georgia would be wise Thankfully, those states that have issued The era where law firms stored physical files to follow these guidelines until the State Bar opinions provided examples on what they in their offices or in a rented space near their of Georgia adopts its own ethics opinion on deem "reasonable care." These examples offices is quickly coming to an end. These days it the matter. range from "guard against reasonably foresee- is much more cost-effective (and user-friendly) able attempts to infiltrate data"4 to "reason- to store client data digitally, either in the cloud SECURING INFORMATION or an on-premise server. However, regardless of IN THE CLOUD: where your firm digitally stores sensitive client REASONABLE CARE STANDARDS data, safeguards must be put in place in order to Using cloud storage or SaaS enables the user prevent disclosing that data to unwanted eyes (the lawyer or law firm) to store client files on or invasive threats. a server hosted by a third-party provider, i.e., While the State Bar of Georgia has not Dropbox, Office 365, Box, etc. Since a law- issued any formal ethics opinion on "cloud com- yer's principal duty is to protect and maintain puting" or "electronically stored information,"1 client confidentiality, 3 it is easily understood the ethics committees of 20 states nationwide why lawyers and law firms may be hesitant - including neighboring states Alabama, Florida to share client information with third party and North Carolina - have all issued their own providers and fully adopt cloud based solu- formal advisory opinions relating to a lawyer or tions. It might seem law firm's use of those services. 2 that the mere The majority of the opinions in those 20 states addressed two questions: 12 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association usage of a third party to host client ably ensure confidentiality agreement (with

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Spring 2016

President’s Message
GTLA at 60: A Conversation with Tommy Malone
Law Practice and Cloud Computing: Staying Ethical in a Digital World
14 Years in the Making: Justice Delayed, but Not Denied
What is the Plaintiff’s Burden in Proving the Value of Medical Expenses?
An Introduction to Daycare Negligence Cases
Diminished Value Claims: Not Just for Cars Anymore
Seeking Justice for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp: Recent Developments
Civil Justice PAC Contributors
Champion Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Notes: What’s New with GTLA Members
Index to Advertisers/

Verdict - Spring 2016