Last Monday, I asked if the LSBC has just killed cloud computing for lawyers in BC. My question was prompted by statements made by the LSBC’s President, Jan Lindsay, that led me and others to believe that the LSBC had come down against non-BC-based cloud computing providers.
Ms. Lindsay has published a response to this question on the LSBC President’s Blog, and clarifies that non-BC-based providers are permitted, with the caveat that lawyers acting for clients that are prohibited from out-of-jurisdiction data storage must act accordingly.
David Bilinsky, also of the LSBC, posted a helpful response on Slaw with “Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers) on BC Lawyers’ Use of Cloud Computing,” where he states there is “no prohibition against using services in which servers are located outside Canada” with the same rider: “the lawyer must ensure use of the service complies with any legal limitations on where the records can be stored.”
While Mr. Bilinski’s and Ms. Linsday’s responses give us optimism for the future of legal cloud computing in BC, the comments in the various blog posts on this controversy make on thing clear: despite the various guidelines and guidance provided by the LSBC, there is a lot of confusion that remains about the security and ethics of cloud computing. Some commenters call for “bright line” recommendations from the LSBC, where cloud providers are able to obtain a “stamp of approval” from the LSBC. While some lawyers chimed in with enthusiastic support of this concept, Mr.Bilinsky rebuffed this suggestion, stating it is “not the role of any regulator to certify any technology [as] that falls outside of their expertise.”
I’d like to express my thanks to Jan Lindsay, David Bilinsky, and all those at the LSBC for their swift response to clarify the Law Society’s stance on cloud computing. Like the many controversial technologies that preceded the cloud (phone, fax, email etc.), controversy does eventually give way to acceptance and progress, and it’s my hope that the dialog initiated here will seed further discussion and clarification on the part of regulators about how lawyers can ethically and responsibly leverage leading technology to the betterment of their clients and the practice of law. The legal industry needn’t forever be the laggard adopters of technology out of fear of running afoul of murky regulations. The cloud, and the many important technologies that will eventually follow it, should receive the benefit of early, transparent, and clear guidance, so that legal professionals are sufficiently informed and confident to respond to the ever-changing technology landscape, and resulting market demands.