Last week I was honored to give a keynote at the annual Canadian Discipline Administrators Conference in Toronto hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The attendees were the discipline authorities of the different Canadian Bar jurisdictions. After speaking with several of them and based on the Q & A session, I can report that our neighbors to the north are grappling with some of the same issues as our State Bar ethics regulators regarding the use of SaaS in law practice management.
An interesting idea was raised by a member of the group that the Canadian Bar might create a private cloud just for Canadian lawyers. I believe there was some mention of this as well in the cloud computing report published by the Law Society of British Columbia this summer.
Would this address some of the concerns surrounding lawyers placing their data into the hands of third-party providers and hosting it in a public cloud? It’s certainly something to think about. My initial reaction was that it would limit competition and because of the expense of creating and maintaining a private cloud, might take away many of the cost-savings associated with a public cloud as well as cause problems when a law firm wants to use another SaaS product that does not collaborate with the Canadian Bar to host a copy of the data on the private cloud. But there would be benefits, especially for Canadian lawyers who are subject to a more rigorous auditing process that requires immediate access by regulators to a law firm’s data.
I still think the best approach to take would be to create guidelines for lawyers rather than restricting use of web-based technology to a private cloud or restricting technology use to a specific list of approved vendors, especially if that list of vendors might not be updated regularly.
What do you think about the creation of a private cloud? What if your state bar proposed to create a private cloud just for its members? What about cross-border and multijurisdictional practices?
The slides from the presentation are below. I’ve integrated several ethics slides that are specific to the Canadian Bar. For those of you familiar with my presentations, the first few slides may be familiar background information on cloud computing and virtual practice, so skip ahead to the interesting case studies and resources.