The Bottom Line

The Bottom LineLPMT is the only section exclusively devoted to the practical aspects of starting, growing, and prospering in your law practice. Each issue of The Bottom Line offers practical tips to further the knowledge of our members in law office administration, financial management, legal ethics, time management, marketing a law practice, office systems and procedures and law office technology.

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Message from the Chair: "To Cloud or Not to Cloud, That Is the Question"

From the June 2014 issue.

Tangela TerryBy Tangela Terry, Esq.
Law Office of Tangela D. Terry

Cloud Computing, though a relatively new term just a few years ago, has become a very common term in the legal profession today. At just about every legal conference that I have attended in the last two years, there has been at least one CLE on cloud computing. “Broadly defined, cloud computing (or "Software as a Service") refers to a category of software that's delivered over the Internet via a Web browser (like Internet Explorer) rather than installed directly onto the user's computer.” (Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S., ABA Law Practice Management Section.)

The cloud offers certain advantages in terms of minimal upfront costs, flexibility, mobility, and ease of use. While the idea of cloud computing seems to be a good concept, we must always remember that as attorneys, we owe a duty of confidentiality and competency to our clients. (See California Rule of Professional Conduct 3-100-Confidential Information of Client and California Rule of Professional Conduct-3-110-The Duty of Competence).

In 2010, the State Bar of California Standing Committee On Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion No. 2010-179 wherein the committee set forth the general analysis “an attorney should undertake when considering use of a particular form of technology.” (The State Bar of California Standing Committee On Professional Responsibility Formal Opinion No. 2010-179.) Lawyers should evaluate the following criteria before using a particular form of technology ( Cloud Ethics Opinions Around the U.S., Comparison Table by the ABA Law Practice Management Section):

  • The nature of the technology in relation to more traditional counterparts (i.e. e-mail versus mail).
  • Reasonable precautions possible to improve the security of a given technology.
  • Limitations on who can monitor the use of technology and disclose activity.
  • The lawyer's own level of technological competence, and whether it's necessary to consult with an expert.
  • Legal ramifications to third parties for intercepting or otherwise interfering with electronic information.
  • The sensitivity of the data.
  • Impact of possible disclosure on the client.
  • Urgency of the situation.
  • Client instructions.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to embrace the cloud, just make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to safeguard the confidential information of your clients.

Thank you to the contributing authors and the e-TBL committee for your contributions. Finally, thank you to the members of LPMT, I hope that you enjoy the articles and all of the many benefits that being a member of this section has to offer. Consider getting more involved, we are always looking for articles for our two publications, The Bottom Line and the E-News. If you are interested in serving in a leadership capacity, consider applying for a position on the Executive Committee, the application deadline is February of each year. (click here to read more about the appointments process


Tangela D. Terry, Chair, LPMT

Click here for more information on joining the LPMT Section.The article above is from a recent issue of the Law Practice Management & Technology Section's bi-monthly newsletter The Bottom Line.

To receive more information on joining the Law Practice management Technology Section, e-mail Section Coordinator Kristina Robledo.