Saturday, March 13, 2021

ABA issues opinion on practicing virtually

 The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has been busy issuing formal ethics opinions recently.  Formal Opinion 498 is the most recent one, issued March 10, and it deal with ethical concerns related to practicing law virtually.  Evidently, this is an important opinion now that so many lawyers are practicing law from home due to the pandemic.

The opinion's summary reads as follows:

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct permit virtual practice, which is technologically enabled law practice beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar law firm.  When practicing virtually, lawyers must particularly consider ethical duties regarding competence, diligence, and communication, especially when using technology. In compliance with the duty of confidentiality, lawyers must make reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized disclosures of information relating to the representation and take reasonable precautions when transmitting such information. Additionally, the duty of supervision requires that lawyers make reasonable efforts to ensure compliance by subordinate lawyers and non-lawyer assistants with the Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically regarding virtual practice policies.

I am not sure that says anything we did not know already, but there you go.  You can read the full opinion (or download it) here.  For more commentary you can go to LawSites, The ABA Journal, iPhone JD, Lawyers Ethics Alert Blog, 2Civility, LexBlog and My Shingle, which criticizes the opinion as a wasted opportunity.

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