By Michael L. Graham, Esq.
Your law firm email is secure, right? If it were not, you would have issues with your state’s ethical rules requiring you to keep client confidences. As a summary and guide for the multiple state ethical rules, ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct §1.6(a) provides:
A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).
Carrying this focus further, §1.6(c), provides:
A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
First, are your laptop and desktop computers password protected, do they have locators on them so that they can be tracked if lost, and do they contain remotely activated erase software so that one can remotely erase the hard drive if someone tries to connect a stolen laptop to the internet? Is this important? ABA Formal Opinion 477R (revised May 22, 2017) tells us:
A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access.