CBA Record July-August 2020

LEGAL ETHICS BY JOHN LEVIN MeetingDuring the Pandemic W e live in a time when a con- fluence of events is creating unusual problems for lawyers.


online, provide instruction on how to use specific conferencing software. Many of these courses are directed to lawyers. In addition to formal instruction, an internet search will reveal a number of sources of information on conferencing platforms and their capability to assure confidentiality. These sources range from proprietary software sites to governmental sites to medical sites discussing HIPAA to articles in technical and bar journals – and more. These information sources are readily available and are generally useful. However, they take time to absorb and implement. Nevertheless, as lawyers, we are directed to be competent in the use of technology and understand its benefits and risks – and online conferencing is now a permanent part of that technology. The rates for classified ads are $2.50 per word for CBA members and $3.50 per word for nonmem- bers. Checks payable toThe Chicago Bar Associa- tion must accompany all ads. Mail to: Classified Ads, c/o CBARecord, 321 South Plymouth Court, Chicago, IL 60604-3997.

practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant tech- nology , engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education require- ments to which the lawyer is subject.” [emphasis added] Both print and online publications are filled with advice to lawyers on the risks and benefits of using conferencing technology. There are numerous CLE courses on this topic. In addition to difficulties in dealing with software, there is the very real problem of protecting the confidentiality of infor- mation digitally transmitted and stored. Lawyers, however, are under a professional obligation to “keep abreast” of the risks of this technology. Lawyers working for larger law firms or other institutions can rely on technical staff for guidance. The sole practitioner or small firm lawyer, however, has to navigate the tech world alone. The most efficient course of navigation is to hire a consultant who can guide the lawyer through the intricacies of using the ever-evolving software as well as how to protect the confidentiality of client infor- mation. Although there is a cost involved (as well as the issue of finding an available, competent consultant), this approach may be the best use of a lawyer’s time. Becoming your own expert requires some familiarity and comfort in using computers as well as the time to learn how newer systems and products work in the context of a law practice, As mentioned above, many courses, both in person and

The current pandemic has substantially foreclosed having face to face meetings with clients, colleagues, opposing counsel – or anyone else for that matter – and has complicated travel. The inability to deal with people personally greatly impedes the ability to practice law. However, developments in the technol- ogy of communication have compensated for some of these difficulties. While email and conference calls were once cutting edge (and are still very useful today), newer providers of video-conferencing, such as Zoom, have all but replaced the conference room. During this time of social distancing, we have all sat in front of screens – insu- lated from contagion – and participated in meetings we once would have attended in person. It is very likely that once the pandemic runs its course and we are able to travel and meet again that video-conferencing platforms will remain important tools in the practice of law. They are simply too convenient and economical. And here is where problems arise. Much has been written, including in this column, on the responsibility of lawyers to keep abreast of developments in technology. The 2015 amendments to the Comments to Rule 1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct – Competence – stated: “To maintain the requisite knowl- edge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its

Landex Research, Inc. PROBATE RESEARCH MISSING/UNKNOWN HEIRS LOCATED NO EXPENSE TO ESTATE Domestic & International Services for: Courts, Lawyers, Trust Officers, Administrators, Executors 1345 Wiley Road, Suite 121 Schaumburg, Illinois 60173 Phone: 847-519-3600/800-844-6778 Fax: 800-946-6990

John Levin is the retiredAssistant General Counsel of GATXCorporation and a member of the CBARecord Editorial Board.

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