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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of September 3, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Prescott, AZ, where we spent the last few days celebrating the 70th birthday with a friend and her marvelous family, was at the center of the recent major fire and terrible tragedy. The "hot shot" team of 19 firefighters lost their lives trying to protect man and property from nature's wrath.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree is an old saying. Talking to the many family and friends of the "birthday girl" made me think of the saying. So many of the firefighters who lost their lives had other members of the family who were also firefighters. And one can hardly find someone in the community who didn't know someone who was killed or injured, or knew someone who knew one of them. Also, there is a strong military generational strain in our friend's family.

Thinking about both the firefighters and the military generation strains made me realize how special are the people who strike out in new fields of endeavor without previous family ties. And how special people are who have the courage to move to new areas of the country where they have no family and have to strike routes of their own in new geographic areas.

Prescott is a beautiful area, made even more special by our friends and the new people we met. I hope your holiday was special.

September 10th, 11am PDT / 2pm EDT. Please join me for a complimentary webinar with MyCase, "Having problems getting paid? Collecting your fees within the lines of ethics" Follow this link for more information and sign-up.
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Data Security is a Professional Responsibility

News reports have indicated that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is auditing the data security policies at its outside law firms, partly under pressure from government regulators to do so. The FBI and other government agencies have emphasized concerns over cybersecurity at law firms - particularly given the value of their corporate clients' information to potential attackers, and law firms' often slow adaptation to new technologies. BofA isn't just relying on its law firms to say they are keeping information systems safe; it is actually sending its own auditors out to review firm systems, and these frequently find the firms to be lacking in security practices. [Read "Outside Law Firm Cybersecurity Under Scrutiny."]

That such impetus could come from a client, and regulators of a client, should be unnecessary. Lawyers are bound by Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15, which requires that client files be "appropriately safeguarded," and failure to do so is a failure in the overall duty to act competently in the best interests of a client. Last year the ABA House of Delegates reinforced this duty for client electronic files by approving a new Comment 8 on Rule 1.1 regarding Competency; it states that "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..."

There are other Rules that apply to data file safeguarding. For example, Rule 1.6 details each lawyer's responsibility to preserve client confidentiality. But the many lawyers using smart phones and wireless laptops potentially expose client information to anyone who can access the wireless connection. Several years ago the State Bar of California's opinion no. 2010-179 emphasized that wireless connections should have a reasonable level of security, which should include use of precautions such as file encryption. And in its 2012 update to the Model Rules, the ABA House of Delegates added to Rule 4.4, covering Rights of Third Persons, language clarifying that the obligation to notify the sender of the receipt of inadvertently sent documents applies also to electronic information. That is explicitly clarified in Comment 2 to include "when an email or letter is misaddressed or a document or electronically stored information is accidentally included with information that was intentionally transmitted."

Such issues as these go to the heart of any firm's obligation to protect client records. Any client, not just Bank of America, would be justified in asking about them at any time. Would your firm's answer show that you take safeguards to comply with ethical responsibility?

Exit Strategy AND Life After Law

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Exit Strategy: Selling & Other Strategies to Leave the Practice of Law reveals insider information that is sure to go a long way to help achieve optimal results while transitioning out of the practice of law. (audio excerpt available!) And, Life After Law: What Will You Do with the Next 6,000 Days? provides career advice on what is necessary and advisable to personally and professionally transition out of the practice. - Learn more.

"Whether you have spent decades in the legal profession, or entered it as a second or even third career, transitioning out of a law practice takes a good deal of thought and action. This book gives lawyers a road map to take the next steps, with stops along the way that we can consider as well. Life After Law fills a gap in career advice literature by telling lawyers what is necessary and advisable to personally and professionally transition out of the practice. It is essential information for all generations of lawyers."

In this issue:

Data Security is a Professional Responsibility

Exit Strategy AND Life After Law - 33% OFF!

Video: Succession Planning

Featured Video:
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What Clients Are Saying:

"On a personal level, I'm not scared any more. The recession reduced my wife and me from a comfortable two-income family to a one person income and a capital drain. When I first called Ed, I truly was counting the months until we would have to put the house on the market... The things we have put in place and will continue working on guaranteed my business picking up."

Northern California

"Ed was coaching me during our firm reorganization when disaster hit! Key personnel departed and I was panic-stricken. Not only did he honor his commitment to 24/7, but his advice enabled me to refocus my priorities. Now, I'm eating, I'm sleeping, and I'm smiling thanks to his guidance."


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
©2013 LawBiz® Management. All rights reserved.

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