Excerpt: Lawyers must follow the duty of communication required by Rule 1.4 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires lawyers to communicate regularly with clients and to keep clients reasonably apprised of their cases. Following a disaster, a lawyer must evaluate available methods to maintain communication with clients. The opinion instructs that lawyers should keep electronic lists of current clients in a manner that is “easily accessible.” Most lawyers have taken that to mean that the lists should be stored in the cloud so they can access them from an internet connection anywhere.
Lawyers should pay attention to the duty of competency, Rule 1.1, which includes a technology clause that requires lawyers to consider the benefits and risks of relevant technology. Because a disaster can destroy lawyers’ paper files, lawyers “must evaluate in advance storing files electronically” so that they can access those files after a disaster. Storing client files through cloud technology requires lawyers to consider confidentiality obligations. Again, the opinion has been read by lawyers to encourage cloud storage.
With a little due diligence, this should not present much of a problem. We constantly encourage lawyers to keep backups in the cloud. It is prudent to have a local backup, but the cloud provides additional security. As we learned from Katrina, having a backup at the office and one at home a mile away is not sufficiently protecting confidential data.