An editorial in the Akron Legal News reminds lawyers of the urgency of securing their law-related email. In May, 2017, the American Bar Association issued Formal Opinion #477R, which suggests guidelines for “Securing Communication of Protected Client Information.” The ABA opinion points out that:
A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access. However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security. (ABA Formal Opinion #447R, p. 1)
While acknowledging that offering specific recommendations on how to secure one’s email is beyond the scope of an ABA ethics opinion, the document does offer some guidelines (see pages 6 to 10).
Akron Legal News reporter Richard Weiner gets more specific, setting out a course of action if you are using regular email services, suggesting resources, and listing some companies that offer protected email services – including ProtonMail, Tutanota, and Hushmail (about which I wrote in a recent issue of Edge International Communiqué).
As Weiner says, “At this point, best data security practices — the ones that keep you from getting sued or losing your law license – now include email security, so time to ramp up awareness of same.”
Let me know your thoughts on this or any other matter related to the law, either in the comments section below or directly via email.