If you are a lawyer, ask yourself, will you find value in the ability to share, sync, backup, and undelete huge files using multiple computers? What about the luxury of using a management-free technology specifically designed for lawyers? If you find these things as positive steps in growing and improving your law practice, then you should already be on the road to using cloud computing.
Evaluating Cloud Appropriateness
So far the biggest challenge for lawyers in moving into the cloud is the lack of a clear cut regulation from governing bodies on the ethical issue of confidentiality. Many argue that storing confidential information in an offsite server can expose it to breaches. At most, lawyers are reminded to exercise reasonable care when using cloud computing. How can you evaluate when you have taken reasonable care?
- Competent Vendor Selection –what are the specifics that you should look into before signing up with a vendor? Reputation and terms of service should be prioritized. Lawyers obviously have unique requirements based on their particular practice, which is why it is necessary to scrutinize these areas of concerns.
- Data Protection – ask for specifics on how client data can be protected from instances of loss, destruction, and even unavailability. You would not want to go into your cloud and suddenly find out that most, if not all, of your documents have been erased. This would also cover systems or measures for data recovery that they provide.
- Vendor Supervision – as a lawyer, reasonable care can mean regularly checking on your chosen vendor on whether they are keeping your files safe and doing their obligations based on the agreed terms of service. The frequency of regularity would be entirely up to you.
- Informing Clients – the general guideline is that clients should only be informed that cloud storage is being used when the lawyer finds it necessary to do so. As a lawyer you would have to look at individual circumstances of clients to decide on this.
The growing acceptance and implementation of cloud computing in the traditionally conservative world of the practice of law results in the steady release of additional guidance to make sure that lawyers do not violate the basic principles of their profession.
For example, the Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA) published additional guidance that can be used by lawyers as a standard in addressing issues concerning cloud computing. These standards are necessary in guarding the confidentiality of client information and files without sacrificing competency. It is important to keep in mind that lowering competency can expose lawyers to state bar sanctions, among other things.
When taking these standards into account, what other things should lawyers consider?
- Control over user accounts;
- Expiration of shared links;
- Password protection;
- Log files; and
- Security of paid and free accounts.
There is currently no clear guidelines from the state bar on these issues and those from the LCCA are not considered mandatory. So what does this mean for lawyers who want to take advantage of the convenience of cloud computing? Although many guidelines are not issued by mandatory authority, these should be seen as influential in making the appropriate decision on how to implement reasonable care.
Contact NexStep for the best lawyers cloud storage in helping lawyers to maximize their practice and get your important law documents management in order.