The Pennsylvania Supreme Court joined other states, such as Massachusetts, and amended its rules of professional conduct effective November 21st to include requirements that attorneys keep abreast of changes in relevant technology and take reasonable care to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access to client information.
This change is in alignment with the ABA’s Rule 1.1, which charges attorneys with monitoring “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” Will other states follow in MA and PA’s footsteps and add similar state guidelines?
Some suggestions to help busy attorneys meet this standard:
1. Discuss data security with staff members, experts, and consultants and have a written document security policy. Be sure to include security guidelines for portable devices (smartphones, tablets, thumb drives).
2. Be careful about using devices on public Wi-Fi networks.
3. Delete your Google history or cookies regularly to avoid targeted ads inadvertently appearing on your computer screen that could disclose your case strategy to someone looking over your shoulder.
4. Research the best software to organize and protect your paperless files.
5. Install security software on all your devices and do semi-annual checks to insure you and your staff are adequately protected from viruses and hackers.
6. Subscribe to e-alert services such as Technolawyer or USCERT to receive updates on new developments in technology.
Previous CECON posts have addressed issues in expert management related to technology and confidentiality (Do You Disclose Case Docs to Potential Experts? And ESI Management- Another Criteria for Expert Witness Selection).
A variety of other tips and resources for staying on top of technology can be found at Americanbar.org and Law.com.