Should Attorneys encrypt their mail?

Over the next few weeks I am going to address technology andf attorney-client communications.  We will be addressing the following use cases; which are permitted, which are not, and what should attorneys do in this fast changing environment?.

1.  Attorney takes his laptop computer to the local coffee shop and accesses a public wireless Internet connection to conduct legal research and sends an email to his client with the result. 

2.  Attorney takes her laptop computer home to conduct research and emails Client from her personal wireless system.

3.  Attorney uses postal or courier services, telephone lines, or other modes of communication beyond face-to-face meetings, in order to effectively carry out the representation.

4.  Attorney uses a research service operated by a competitor of the client.

5.  Attorney uses a research service operated by a department of the United States Government.

6.  Attorney stores client secrets on a firm server that is accessible from the Internet.

7.  Attorney stores client secrets on a third party server that is accessible only from the Internet, e.g., “in the cloud.”

8.  Attorney uses a third party data processing center without the client’s consent for bookkeeping, billing, accounting and statistical purposes; but such information does not include client secrets and confidences.  

9.  Attorney uses a third party data processing center without the client’s consent for bookkeeping, billing, accounting and statistical purposes; and such information includes client secrets and confidences.  

10.  Attorney leaves mail unattended in an open basket outside her office door for pick up by the postal service.

11.  Attorney does not encrypt his email to clients.

12.  Attorney does not password protect the documents she prepares for clients.

13.  Attorney does not activate password protection features on her mobile devices, such as laptops and PDAs, on which she receives emails from clients.

14.  Attorney uses a third party remote service provider to keep his computer operational, which permits the third party to remotely connect to his computer for service.  

15.  Attorney does not use a firewall on his network or drive encryption on his computer or office server.

16.  Attorney does not use a screen shade or polarizer which would prevent the person sitting in the adjacent seat on an airplane to see the computer screen.

17.  Attorney takes and receives cell phone calls with clients in public places.

18.  Attorney does not strip documents of confidential metadata before transmitting them to either opposing counsel or governmental agencies.

19.  Attorney does not provide any training or instructions to his support personnel regarding client confidentiality.

20.  Attorney does not maintain a separate Wi-Fi network for guests at the law firm.

21.  Attorney does not maintain a strong password for access to a law firm’s Wi-Fi network.

22.  Should attorney have a standard client disclosure regarding electronic communication?

`© Robert Rose 2015