Legal ethics rules in a majority of states now require attorneys to become and remain familiar with technologies that affect their practices. However, the broad wording of the applicable rules and the constantly evolving world of technology may lead some in the legal profession to wonder what these rules actually mean for them. Fortunately, states across the country have begun to provide more specific guidance as to what these ethical duties entail, giving lawyers specific examples that may apply directly or analogously to the technologies they use every day.
The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct recently reaffirmed its position on attorneys' duty of confidentiality toward their clients. In an advisory opinion, the Committee reiterated that lawyers may not disclose information, especially embarrassing information, acquired during the course of representing a client, even if that information is otherwise publicly available.
A recent ethics opinion by the State Bar of California clarifies the circumstances under which legal blogs may be subject to that state's professional responsibility and legal advertising rules. Other states have released, or are considering, updating their rules with respect to attorney advertising online, so all lawyers who use a website and/or blog for advertising should stay current on the developments in this area.