UPDATE: I received an email from the ethics committee with the following information: If you would like to submit a comment on the proposed opinion regarding cloud computing, the deadline is July 9, 2010 and the comment should be directed in writing to Alice Mine at the N.C. State Bar. Further information on the ethics opinions is located on this site.
Here is a brief update from the NCBA LPM Council this morning regarding the status of the cloud computing inquiry.
The NC Ethics Committee met on April 15th and discussed whether attorneys could use SaaS and still observe the duty of confidentiality owed to clients and the duty to preserve client data. The Committee voted to publish the opinion for comment. I’ve posted a copy of NC Bar Proposed 2010 FEO 7 online.
To summarize, the proposed opinion states that an attorney may contract with a SaaS vendor provided the attorney takes responsible measures to ensure the risk of loss is minimized. To note, the opinion does not require that the attorney employ “infallible methods” but makes the standard one of “reasonable methods” to reduce risk. The proposed opinion also provides that the lawyer or law firm should be able to answer a set of questions to ensure that client file information is reasonably safe. The proposed opinion provides a list of 23 questions some of which include inquiries into the financial information and stability of the vendor.
In general, Inquiry #1 of the proposed opinion is positive about the use of SaaS for law practice management. Inquiry #2 discusses “best practices” for the use of SaaS, and the Committee will most likely refine this before formal publication by sending it to a subcommittee. After publishing the proposed opinion in the next issue of The State Bar Journal, the Ethics Committee will re-examine the proposed opinion at its July 22nd meeting.