Lawyer not ethically responsible for hacked funds when reasonable precautions are taken, NC Ethics Opinion states

North Carolina State Bar 2015 Formal Ethics Opinion 6

October 23, 2015

Topic: Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility When Third Party Steals Funds from Trust Account

From the opinion:

“Opinion rules that when funds are stolen from a lawyer’s trust account by a third party who is not employed or supervised by the lawyer, and the lawyer was managing the trust account in compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, the lawyer is not professionally responsible for replacing the funds stolen from the account.

The Opinion clarifies that lawyers are not obligated to replace funds stolen by hackers who gained illegal access to the lawyer’s computer network and electronically transferred the funds, provided the lawyer took “reasonable care to minimize the risks to client funds by implementing reasonable security measures in compliance with the requirements of Rule 1.15”.

The Committee specified that the “opinion is limited to a lawyer’s professional responsibilities and is not intended to opine on a lawyer’s legal liability.”

For more information, Nathan M. Crystal.


Rules: North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15; 1.15-2; 1.15-3; 5.3

Mentioned Ethic Opinions: North Carolina State Bar 2011 Formal Ethics Opinion 7

The full text of the opinion is available at…

For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal

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