Daily Briefs

ABA issues guidance on transmission of protected client information

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has issued Formal Opinion 477 that expands guidance to lawyers on what steps to take to enhance confidentiality in the transfer of sensitive information by electronic means.

The new opinion builds upon Formal Opinion 99-413 issued in 1999 that discusses protecting the confidentiality of unencrypted email. It also ties in amendments made to ABA Model Rule 1.6 and the official Comments of Rule 1.1 adopted since 1999.

Formal Opinion 477 notes that in the years since Opinion 99-413, when multiple methods of communicatons were prevalent, today “many lawyers primarily use electronic means to communicate and exchange documents with clients, other lawyers and even with persons who are assisting in delivering legal services to clients.”

“Each device and each storage location offer an opportunity for the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of information relating to the representation, and thus implicate a lawyers’ ethical duties,” FO 477 said.

The guidance covers many factors, from understanding the nature of the threat to sensititve information to taking a pro-active role in ensuring electronic communications are protected to ensuring that lawyer and nonlawyer colleagues are trained in technology and information security. In addition, the guidance recommends that the lawyer fully inform the client of the “risks involved” in the transmission of sensitive information.

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility periodically issues ethics opinions to advise lawyers, courts and the public in interpreting and applying ABA model ethics rules to specific issues of legal practice, client-lawyer relationships and judicial behavior.

Formal Opinion 477 and previous ABA ethics opinions are available on the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility website under “Latest Ethics Opinions.”


36th District Court  celebrates National Drug Court Month 

In celebration of National Drug Court Month, the 36th District Court’s Drug Treatment Court will hold a graduation ceremony on Thursday, May 18 in Courtroom 220 of the court located at 421 Madison Street in Detroit. The Judge Shannon A. Holmes is the presiding judge. Luis Sharpe, former National Football League All-Pro offensive tackle and graduate of Detroit Southwestern High School, will be the keynote speaker.  The event comes as Congress is considering funding for drug courts and will serve as powerful evidence that drug courts are a life-saving budget solution that must have their support.

National Drug Court Month is coordinated by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP). This year’s national theme is “A Call to Action.” 
Next week’s uplifting Graduation Ceremony is evidence of the tremendous impact the 36th District Court Drug Treatment Court has had on our community and will send a powerful message that these programs reduce addiction, crime, and recidivism while saving lives, families, and valuable resources for our state.


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