Law Practice Management and Technology

The Bottom Line Volume 35, No. 3 June 2014

Message From the Chair: “To Cloud Or Not To Cloud, That Is The Question”

By Tangela Terry, Esq.
Law Office of Tangela D. Terry

Cloud Computing, though a relatively new term just a few years ago, has become a very common term in the legal profession today. At just about every legal conference that I have attended in the last two years, there has been at least one CLE on cloud computing. “Broadly defined, cloud computing (or "Software as a Service") refers to a category of software that’s delivered over the Internet via a Web browser (like Internet Explorer) rather than installed directly onto the user’s computer.” (Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S., ABA Law Practice Management Section.)

The cloud offers certain advantages in terms of minimal upfront costs, flexibility, mobility, and ease of use. While the idea of cloud computing seems to be a good concept, we must always remember that as attorneys, we owe a duty of confidentiality and competency to our clients. (See California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-100-Confidential Information of Client and California Rule of Professional Conduct-3-110-The Duty of Competence).

In 2010, the State Bar of California Standing Committee On Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion No. 2010-179 wherein the committee set forth the general analysis “an attorney should undertake when considering use of a particular form of technology.” (The State Bar of California Standing Committee On Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion No. 2010-179.) Lawyers should evaluate the following criteria before using a particular form of technology ( Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S., Comparison Table by the ABA Law Practice Management Section):

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