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PBA OpinionReWorkingRemotely

Pennsylvania State Bar - Ethics and Work at Home

This Pennsylvania State Bar formal opinion was shared to lists.washlaw.edu via Larry Zimmerman, Zimmerman & Zimmerman, Topeka-based firm, as a thorough walk-through of ethics issues we face working from home.  Larry relays that this was provided by Pennsylvania instead of Kansas but still worth a look.

Larry says, I especially liked III, C, 9 on page 13 - Lawyers Should Be Cognizant of Their Obligation to Act with Civility.  The PA Bar adopts the Los Angeles County Bar Association's statement:

 

"In light of the unprecedented risks associated with the novel Coronavirus, we urge all lawyers to liberally exercise every professional courtesy and/or discretional authority vested in them to avoid placing parties, counsel, witnesses, judges or court personnel under undue or avoidable stresses, or health risk."

 

Larry N. Zimmerman

Zimmerman & Zimmerman, P.A.

PENNSYLVANIA BAR ASSOCIATION
COMMITTEE ON LEGAL ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
April 10, 2020
FORMAL OPINION 2020-300
ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS FOR LAWYERS WORKING REMOTELY

I. Introduction and Summary

When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all “non-essential businesses,” including law firms to close their offices during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also ordered all persons residing in the state to stay at home and leave only under limited circumstances, many attorneys and their staff were forced to work from home for the first time. In many cases, attorneys and their staff were not prepared to work remotely from a home office, and numerous questions arose concerning their ethical obligations.

Most questions related to the use of technology, including email, cell phones, text messages, remote access, cloud computing, video chatting and teleconferencing. This Committee is therefore providing this guidance to the Bar about their and their staff’s obligations not only during this crisis but also as a means to assure that attorneys prepare for other situations when they need to perform law firm- and client-related activities from home and other remote locations.

Attorneys and staff working remotely must consider the security and confidentiality of their client data, including the need to protect computer systems and physical files, and to ensure that telephone and other conversations and communications remain privileged.

Click here to view the formal opinion in its entirety.

 

 

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