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Thursday, January 8th, 2015 technology  research  practice

A Practice Tip

  • Practice

♫ Oh won’t you show me the way, every day
I want you to show me the way…♫ 

Lyrics, music and recorded by Peter Frampton.

Genie

The CBA’s Practising Ethically with Technology guidelines, published by the CBA Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee, has identified five areas where lawyers most often face ethical issues using technology.

These are:

  • Confidentiality
  • Security
  • Marketing
  • Providing services electronically, and
  • Accessibility

There is a lot of information poured into these guidelines and it is an excellent overview of the most important issues facing lawyers today in terms of technology and its risks.  It is also a wonderful resource in terms of being a reference to further articles and information.

As much as some lawyers may prefer to not have to deal with the implications of technology in their practice, the fact is that the technological genie is out of the bottle.  Every story about Aladdin meeting the Genie highlights that, while the Genie is powerful and amazing, he does raise the spectre of the law of unintended consequences.

Accordingly it is incumbent on lawyers to understand how technology may not only be beneficial to their practice (I would go further and say necessary to their practice) but also how to recognize and minimize the risks that the technological genie raises.

Furthermore, as competition increases in the legal field and as the calls for greater access to justice get louder, technology is going to become more and more important in terms of being incorporated into the solutions to meet these challenges.  Accordingly understanding how to use technology ethically and appropriately will only loom larger.

For example there was a news story on cbc.ca yesterday on how a woman’s passport and other private information was freely available for viewing to anyone who was also on a hotel Wi-Fi network in Winnipeg. If she happened to be a lawyer and there was client confidential information on her laptop, that could have been not only embarrassing but an ethical breach of confidentiality as well.  Unfortunately with technology you can unwittingly stumble into problems.

These Guidelines are a wonderful resource for lawyers looking for guidance when using technology.  The CBA has stated that they intend to update this document every few years which is to be commended.  Given the rate of change in technology, these guidelines will help us to show us the way…

Photo by JD Hancock.

-David J . Bilinsky, Vancouver BC.

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