Alexa, can you hear my clients? Confidentiality Obligations in the Coronavirus Work from Home Era
Confidentiality is fundamental to the client-lawyer relationship. Are you talking to your lawyer within earshot of a family member or a third person? Are you talking to your lawyer within earshot of a listening device?
Confidentiality of client information is at the heart of the client-lawyer relationship. Not only does it shape how lawyers deliver services to clients, but it also is a bedrock principle of the lawyer rules of professional conduct in all 50 states. McGlinchey is ever mindful of its confidentiality obligations, and lawyering in the time of coronavirus is no different.
We want to assure our clients that we have impressed upon all our lawyers and staff that our confidentiality obligations are the same while we’re remote-working as when we’re in the office. Our attorneys and staff have been specifically reminded that client information shouldn’t be discussed and client phone calls shouldn’t take place in the presence of family members or third parties. Likewise, in order to protect confidentiality and the client-lawyer privilege, our clients should employ these same precautions.
Additionally, recent reporting has warned about discussing confidential information in the presence of AI listening devices, for example, Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s voice assistant. Apparently, these devices may be activated inadvertently, even if trigger words aren’t used. The same applies to video devices such as Ring, baby monitors, and TVs.
Please don’t hesitate to let your McGlinchey lawyer know if you have any questions or concerns about confidentiality.
Christine Lipsey serves as McGlinchey’s general counsel, implementing policies and procedures to address and ameliorate conflicts and risks in the firm’s nationwide network.