Ethics and the Virtual Law Office – Article in St. Louis Lawyer

Michael Downey, a lawyer with Armstrong Teasdale LLP and legal ethics teacher at Washington University School of Law and St. Louis University School of Law, has written an article for the St. Louis Lawyer seeking to balance the messages lawyers might take from two recent events in virtual practice news: 1) Rachel Rodger’s article in Forbes focusing on the benefits of increased work/life balance from virtual law offices and 2) the Virginia disciplinary matter of lawyer Atchuthan Sriskandarah who operated a virtual practice and engaged in misleading lawyer advertising.

Michael’s article focuses on the ethics issues that lawyers engaging in virtual practice should be aware of. He concludes

Advancing technology, changing lifestyles, and the current economic climate will inevitably lead to an increase in virtual law offices. As long as a lawyer takes care to comply with applicable ethics rules, including the eight facets discussed in this article, he or she should be able to have – as the Forbes article discusses – a rewarding virtual practice.

 

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  • Another great article about the advances and changing landscape related to virtual law practice. My question to you is how does a multi-state practice or firm deal with the various rules by states and their varying responses / enforcement / reactions? It seems that the guidelines are shifting dramatically and in differing directions. Thanks

  • That is a good question, Justin. Right now, multijurisdictional virtual law firms are left to interpret the rules and ethics opinion of the states where they are practicing law. Sometimes this means that different rules must be applied from state to state if possible otherwise the strictest state’s rules must apply to the firm’s operations. Here is a NC JOLT law review article I wrote last year on the regulatory barriers to the growth of multijurisdictional virtual law firms.

    So far with respect to cloud computing used in law practice, most of the state’s are slowing publishing ethics opinions that state that it is o.k. for their lawyers to use, and are sticking to the “reasonable care” standard although providing various caveats and best practices.

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