Ethical Duty Working Remote

What is the Ethical Duty when your office works remote?

Remote practice does not alter a lawyer’s ethical duties under the California Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. Managerial lawyers must implement reasonable measures, policies, and practices to ensure continued compliance with these rules in a remote working environment, with a particular focus on the duties of confidentiality, technology competence, communication, and supervision. 

Because more lawyers and staff will be working remotely, the office needs to ensure that the technology it uses to facilitate remote practice is consistent with applicable ethical obligations, including the duty of confidentiality. If a lawyer is unable to evaluate the security of the technology used, the lawyer must seek additional information, or consult with someone who possesses the requisite knowledge to ensure compliance with the lawyer’s duties of competence and confidentiality.

When working from home, lawyers must implement reasonable measures to safeguard confidential client information, particularly if other household members share or have access to a home computer, laptop, or printer. Reasonable security measures might include creating separate accounts for household members, implementing two-factor authentication, strong passwords, and automatic logging off when the computer becomes inactive.

Lawyers responsible for managing non-lawyer staff are responsible for implementing reasonable steps to ensure that the conduct of non-lawyer staff, including independent contractors, is consistent with the lawyer’s duties under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

So in conclusion, lawyers may ethically practice remotely under the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act, provided they continue to comply with the duties of confidentiality, competence, communication, and supervision. Lawyers must implement reasonable measures to ensure compliance that are tailored to the relevant circumstances and remote working environment. 

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