Ethics and the Cloud, State-by-State

Want to know what your state thinks about cloud computing? Thanks to Nicole Black’s post in the LAB, here is the ABA’s handy reference chart so you can see what your state’s ethics board thinks about cloud computing.

Currently, by the way, lawyers in all 50 states may use the cloud. Ethics boards in 13 states seem to have specifically considered the issue, and all say it’s fine to use the cloud as long as you use “reasonable care” in selecting services — as with pretty much everything else on the business end of law practice.

I don’t really know why lawyers are so freaked out about the cloud. Everyone seems to assume there must be some big ethics issues with using cloud software, even if the security of any reputable cloud-based software is light-years ahead of the security most solo and small firms are capable of.


  1. Avatar Jimmy Thompson says:

    [via LinkedIn] Perhaps it is because when you “Go to the Cloud” you no longer control nor are in possession of your information, “Secure” though you may believe it to be. Regardless of the ‘reputation’ of the company, if they go under, so does your info. I, personally, trust no one in the legal profession who feel that s/he needs to allow my info to become common knowledge to the globally hackable interweb. Thank you.


  2. Avatar Allan Muten says:

    From a layperson’s perspective, I assume that this sort or technological foot-dragging also inhibits lawyer to lawyer file sharing via cloud applications (state to state; country to country… think globally, not just 13 states down and 37 to go) such as are commonly used these days to share voluminous data files. Archaic alternatives are cumbersome and costly.

  3. Avatar Jimmy Thompson says:

    Indeed this lay person’s perspective is clouded and fogged by the new realities. Yet, I should not have limited my distrust to the legal profession, as it is truly distrust of “The Cloud” itself and fear for those who choose to embrace it, which can dissipate as the mist in the morning. I do suppose that it is less cumbersome than a room full of old, dusty law books ;-). So I do apologize for my specificity; it was unfeeling. I can not imagine any situation that would bring me to “The Cloud” except perhaps death itself, wherein I end up in “The Clouds” ;-)


    • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

      Anyone who claims to distrust “the cloud” wholesale does not understand what it is.

      You say you think if a cloud provider goes under, so does your data. That’s not necessarily true. Most cloud services either duplicate data on your systems or provide a means to back up your files. “Reasonable care” definitely means backing up your data, if it means anything. It also means picking companies that aren’t likely to go under. But even if they do, many cloud services designed for lawyers also insure their data, so that even if the company goes under, you will have plenty of time to move your data to another service. Companies going under is rare among reputable cloud service providers. But when it happens, it is a hassle, not a disaster.

      Your “distrust” is just the same old fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). It’s boring because the same kind of FUD has been raised and debunked so many times. But it is also disappointing to see it crop up again and again. There is nothing inherently good or bad about the cloud.

      Also, lawyers don’t have rooms full of dusty old law books. Even if they did, that’s beside the point. Online research has been standard for years, now. We’re talking about storing data relating to clients, which has never been stored in dusty law books.

  4. Avatar Jimmy Thompson says:

    Thank you Sam. I guess I do not have the feel for what this is. It was one of those knee-jerk reactions that I always get when I hear that my personal info is going off to something diaphanous, when I would rather have it on a dedicated, unconnected hard-drive (which, I know, can also fail at the most inopportune times), but which is less likely to be compromised. I accept that the cloud is just is what it is. Thanks again.

    Jimmy, an old FUDdy duddy ;-)

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