Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 41

ASK THE ETHICS EXPERTS

Law Apps:

FREE BUT NOT RISK FREE
By Hope C. Todd

Q

I am launching my own law firm and considering
setting up a virtual office. But even if I settle on
physical office space, I plan to utilize mobile platforms
and technological solutions. I have noticed that apps
for lawyers are everywhere - seemingly offering the
opportunity to create a "phone office" that does everything: reminds, scans, retrieves client files, creates electronic signatures and
invoices, provides research, and even orders food to be delivered to my car.
Many apps have both free and paid versions of the same or very similar
products. Keeping my overhead down seems like a good business decision,
but is it an ethical one?

A

Embracing the use of technology in the practice of law
can greatly benefit lawyers and clients alike. However,
because it is a violation of D.C. Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality)
for a lawyer to knowingly use or reveal client confidences or secrets, a principal ethical consideration
when lawyers use technology is the protection of

client information. Therefore, before using any application, free or paid
versions, the lawyer must read the vendor's "terms of service." Service terms
that provide that the vendor will "own" the user's information and/or has a
right to view, use, or mine that information is an immediate red flag. Many "for
pay" versions, even relatively low-cost ones, afford better confidentiality protections to lawyers without claims of vendor information ownership.
Of course, not all free apps are worrisome, depending on intended use. A free
scanning app, for example, used for scanning blank forms, only becomes an
ethical problem when the scanned document is populated with Rule 1.6protected information. There is also no ethical impediment to curbside taco
delivery. That said, when client confidences and secrets are involved, free in
some instances may be costly. For more information and resources on mobile
apps and technology solutions in the practice of law, contact the D.C. Bar
Practice Management Advisory Service at pmas@dcbar.org.
D.C. Bar Legal Ethics counsel Hope C. Todd, Saul Jay Singer, and Erika Stillabower
are available for inquiries at ethics@dcbar.org.
To access the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, visit
dcbar.org, keywords: D.C. Rules.


https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/legal-ethics/amended-rules/ http://www.dcbar.org http://geico.com/bar/dcbar http://geico.com/bar/dcbar

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - December 2017

Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: 50 Years of Space Law
Feature: The Resurrection of Civics Class
Feature: Privacy in the Digital Age
Feature: AI & The Legal Workplace
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Associates Angle
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 2
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 15
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: 50 Years of Space Law
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 18
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: The Resurrection of Civics Class
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: Privacy in the Digital Age
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Feature: AI & The Legal Workplace
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Associates Angle
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - December 2017 - Cover4
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