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Consider These Ethical Issues Before Moving Data to the Cloud

Cloud computing offers many advantages, and its use over the past few years has increased dramatically, especially in the area of data storage. The cloud’s benefits over traditional datastorage platforms include: minimal capital expenditure, ease of access, transferability, virtually unlimited storage and efficiency. It can be no surprise, therefore, that many law firms have begun the process of transferring vast amounts of data to third-party cloud service providers rather than retaining in-house data centers, which are costly to maintain, require routine software and hardware upgrades and are limited by the amount of available storage.

As cloud computing has gained popularity and become more commonplace in the legal profession, the American Bar Association and state ethics committees across the country have been considering law firms’ use of cloud computing to manage and store client documents. Thus far, approximately 14 state ethics committees have considered the issue, directly or indirectly, each coming to the conclusion that law firms may utilize cloud computing to store client information without running afoul of their version of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC), so long as certain precautions are taken before entering into a services agreement or master services agreement (MSA) with a cloud service provider. See, “Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S.”

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