Pennsylvania Bar Association Formal Opinion 2011-200

Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility – Formal Opinion 2011-200

Topics: Ethical Obligations for Attorneys Using Cloud Computing/Software as a Service While Fulfilling the Duties of Confidentiality and Preservation of Client Property

From the opinion:

From a more technical perspective, ‘cloud computing’ encompasses several similar types of services under different names and brands, including: web-based e-mail, online data storage, software-as-a-service (‘SaaS’), platform-as-a-service (‘PaaS’), infrastructure-as-a-service (‘IaaS’), Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (‘Amazon EC2’), and Google Docs.

This opinion places all such software and services under the ‘cloud computing’ label, as each raises essentially the same ethical issues.

In particular, the central question posed by ‘cloud computing’ may be summarized as follows:

May an attorney ethically store confidential client material in ‘the cloud’?

In response to this question, this Committee concludes:

Yes. An attorney may ethically allow client confidential material to be stored in ‘the cloud’ provided the attorney takes reasonable care to assure that (1) all such materials remain confidential, and (2) reasonable safeguards are employed to ensure that the data is protected from breaches, data loss and other risks.”


The full text is available at…