Lawyers, Be Tough Customers When Purchasing Technology
Lawyers, ask yourselves:
Can I ethically connect my work laptop computer to an unsecured public Wi-Fi network?
What data security measures are in place at the technology vendors that store and process my clients’ confidential information?
Do the software applications that process my clients’ confidential information have the latest security updates?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re violating the ethical obligation to “make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.” [ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(c)] That’s because the duty to make reasonable efforts to prevent the disclosure of client confidential information necessarily includes (1) the duty to understand the confidentiality implications of each technology used in firm operations and (2) the duty to make inquiries of all technology vendors to ensure that their cybersecurity practices are sufficiently robust to protect client confidential information. Lawyers who fail to carefully vet technology vendors are already failing their clients from a professional ethics standpoint.
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