California State Bar Opinion 2010-179

Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct


Topic: General use of technology by lawyers – reasonable precautions to avoid unauthorized access by third parties.

Digest of the Committee:

Whether an attorney violates his or her duties of confidentiality and competence when using technology to transmit or store confidential client information will depend on the particular technology being used and the circumstances surrounding such use. Before using a particular technology in the course of representing a client, an attorney must take appropriate steps to evaluate: 1) the level of security attendant to the use of that technology, including whether reasonable precautions may be taken when using the technology to increase the level of security; 2) the legal ramifications to a third party who intercepts, accesses or exceeds authorized use of the electronic information; 3) the degree of sensitivity of the information; 4) the possible impact on the client of an inadvertent disclosure of privileged or confidential information or work product; 5) the urgency of the situation; and 6) the client’s instructions and circumstances, such as access by others to the client’s devices and communications


California Rules of Professional Conduct 3-100 and 3-110

Business and Professions Code section 6068, subdivision (e)(1)

Evidence Code sections 917(a) and 952


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