Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 states that lawyers have a professional duty to protect all documents relating to clients by requiring that client property and files be “appropriately safeguarded.”
Failure to keep files safe and free from outside perusal is a failure in the duty to act competently in the best interests of a client. The rules and specific time periods for storing or destroying client files vary by jurisdiction.
The price of protecting client confidences will cost defunct law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf almost $1.4 million.
After more than 100 years, law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, listing $193.2 million in assets and $315 million in liabilities.
But with the firm still in existence only long enough to settle with creditors, one question remains: what to do with all the paper?
Lawyers in Arizona may provide an online file for clients as long as they take “reasonable precautions” to protect the confidentiality of the information, according to the Ethics Committee of the State Bar of Arizona.