Over the past month, I have spoken with several attorneys who want to open virtual law practices. They are approaching their state bars to get the go-ahead before hanging the virtual shingle. If you live in Texas, Maryland or Georgia, you may want to keep an eye out for opinions from your state bar authorities regarding virtual law practice.
The summer issue of the NC State Bar Journal published a new proposed formal ethics opinion regarding web-based management of client records. You can read the proposed opinion #5 on the NC State Bar website here.
The proposed ethics opinion examines two separate scenarios where the attorney’s clients are able to access confidential client records through a web-based system. The proposed opinion expands beyond the NC Bar’s previous 2006 ethics opinion regarding virtual law offices which focused more on non-secure email communication rather than web-based VLOs.
This new proposed opinion concludes that “client files may be stored on a website accessible by clients via the internet provided the confidentiality of all client information on the website is protected.” It also specifies that “[i]f the law firm will be contracting with a third party to maintain the web based management system, the law firm must ensure that the third party also employs measures which effectively minimize the risk that confidential information might be lost or disclosed.”
I have been forwarding the NC Bar’s opinion on VLOs and this new proposed opinion to attorneys in different states who are in the process of approaching their own state bars. If anyone would like to share the virtual law practice opinions of their state bars, I would love to post them on this blog as resources for other attorneys researching virtual law practice.