By: Gwenn Barney
Lawyers are advisors and advocates. Clients trust lawyers to preserve secrets, confidential matters that when disclosed could cause financial or reputational damage. A significant element of legal representation involves safe-guarding these confidences competently and also acting responsibly if an unauthorized disclosure occurs.
Law firms are prime targets for data breaches because they hold a treasure trove of digital information. The American Bar Association (ABA) introduced a new opinion on October 17, 2018 to guide lawyers in their responsibilities to clients in relation to data breaches involving or having a substantial likelihood of involving material client information. These responsibilities, laid out in Formal Opinion 483, include monitoring for data breaches, restoring systems after a data breach, post-breach investigations, and informing current clients when a breach occurs. Law firms are expected to develop and implement data privacy and security programs, and as in other industries, a firm’s management is expected to undertake an active role with implementing such a program. A failure to do so could result in an ethical violation.
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