Welcome to our Discovery Update newsletter. We continue our focus on tips to help you work through the pandemic. Whether working remotely or in the office, I hope you continue to find our article selection useful and informative.
As the end of the year approaches, make sure to revisit or catch up on any Discovery Update issues you might have missed throughout the year by visiting our website.
The Ethics of Secure Communication During the Pandemic and Beyond
By Nicole Black
Like most lawyers, you’ve likely worked remotely on more than one occasion since March, when quarantines were put in place due to COVID-19. Since then, lawyers across the country continue to work remotely from different locations at least part-time, while others continue working remotely full-time. Of course, when lawyers work remotely, ethical and security issues relating to how confidential data is handled and shared may be triggered. This is especially so now that the ethical standards regarding electronic communication are changing.
It used to be that unencrypted email was sufficient when communicating with clients electronically, but in recent years, the tide has begun to turn. Technology has improved significantly, and more secure electronic communication methods have emerged, rendering unencrypted email insufficient for certain types of client communication, as the ABA concluded 2017 inFormal Opinion 477R.
In this opinion, the Ethics Committee determined that unencrypted email may not always be sufficient for client communication. Instead the Committee advised that lawyers need to assess the sensitivity of the information that they’re sharing on a case-by-case basis, and in many cases, may want to consider using more secure, encrypted methods of communicating and collaborating with clients, including a “secure internet portal.”
An All-Virtual Mock Trial Shows How Remote Trials can be Conducted
By Amanda Robert
Two months ago, organizers for a mock trial program decided to pull together an online version of an event that ordinarily takes two years to plan.
Joel M. Androphy, a partner at Berg & Androphy in Houston and co-chair of the program, has helped organize the biennial National False Claims Act and Qui Tam Trial Institute for several years.
“The program has been popular with the audience, it has been popular in the community, and the ABA has gotten a lot of recognition for it,” Androphy says.
No in-person event was planned for this year. Androphy says the idea to host a virtual version from July 7 to 9 came during a phone call with Michael E. Clark, of counsel at Baker Donelson in Houston and another longtime institute organizer.
“Mike and I decided that, hey, let’s do something different. Let’s be at the forefront,” he says. “Everyone talks about virtual this, virtual that, so let’s actually conduct a trial virtually.”