Computers of the past played a simple task for lawyers a few short decades ago. They calculated expenses, compiled information into spreadsheets, and provided simple graphics for scenarios. Now mobile device can access information from anywhere, e-mails can be sent and responded to within seconds, and the fear of hackers is about equal to the threat of an Ebola outbreak. With such private and vital data drifting through space in an undisclosed cyber cloud, Pennsylvania lawyers are required to take an extra step to protect their clients.
Back on November 21, 2014, the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct were amended to require that all attorneys keep apprised of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with technology and their case. Rule 1.1 states, “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”
Michael Kraemer of Law.com comments that, “This is the most sacred duty an attorney can owe to a client – safeguarding their information. The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct place strict limits on what information an attorney can reveal. Recently, with the explosion of social networking and blogging, the limits set forth in Rule 1.6 have to be imported into the involving world of technology. Rule 1.6 has to apply to social networking and blogging so attorneys do not reveal their client’s information electronically unless it specifically comports with Rule 1.6.” Therefore, this statement has been added to this rule: “a lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”
While technology is becoming a larger catalyst for the change with growing legal marketplaces, innovators like UpCounsel are able to transcend traditional boundaries of time, space, corporate, and geographical boundaries. These lawyers represent a virtual marketplace of thousands of attorneys located all over the United States (including major PA hubs like: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh ). They are able to offer much more competitive costs for legal services provided by vetted, rated, and reviewed attorneys servicing Pennsylvania since they are primarily based online and carry minimal overhead when compared to big law firms.
With the increased availability of counsel through the Internet, cyber law has become an increasingly important issue not just in Pennsylvania, but throughout our nation. It will be interesting to see how other states follow Pennsylvania’s example.
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