Pennsylvania Ethics Advisory Opinion on Cloud Computing
In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Bar Association released an advisory (non-binding) ethics opinion addressing cloud computing issues. [FN1] The short, advisory opinion cautiously concludes that current, Pennsylvania ethics rules do not preclude storing client, confidential information at off-site, “cloud computing” vendors. However, the opinion emphasizes the attorney’s duty to reasonably protect the confidentiality of client data (Rule 1.6) that is stored off-site and implies special attention to an attorney’s oversight duty in such situations.[FN2] The opinion also summarizes common sense precautions such as data backups, assuring access to the remote data, security plans, encryption, etc.
While only an advisory opinion by a single member (non-binding), the opinion provides some initial guidance to Pennsylvania attorneys struggling with the ethical implications of deploying
Update & Resources for Pennsylvania Lawyers on Cloud Computing
- Navigating the Fog of Cloud Computing and
- Navigating the Fog of Cloud Computing: An Unofficial Supplement to The Pennsylvania Lawyer Article (links to a number of detailed articles and items about how to implement cloud computing and what to watch out for in cloud computing).
- Shannon Brown, Cloud Computing 101 for Lawyers, At Issue 8-9, 10 (Spring 2011), available at At Issue, Spring 2011
- Avoiding Being “Bit”ten: Bandwidth Issues With Cloud Computing Backups
- Cloud Computing: Who Holds the Encryption Keys? [And Why It May Matter to Lawyers]
- Storing Files in the Cloud: Storage-as-a-Service for Lawyers—Encryption
- Cloud Nines: Understanding Accessibility Versus Availability in Cloud Computing for Lawyers
- Layered Cloud Basics for Lawyers: Awareness of Cascading Issues from Sub-clouding
- Basic Email Encryption and Authentication for Lawyers
The latter article mentions:
FN1—Inquiry 2010-60 (January 10, 2011).
FN2—The advisory opinions cites Rule 5.1. While this rule may certainly apply, Rule 5.3 (Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants) may also be relevant (although not specifically cited by the opinion). [Clarification: 27 March 2011—The opinion states Rules 1.6 and 5.1, among others, may apply.]
Original Publication: 22 March 2011
Updated: 27 March 2011