LSBC Clears Up Cloud of Confusion

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.


  1. As a former Chair of the President’s Special Committee on Technology for the Law Society of Manitoba I agree with the position of President Lindsay and the LSBC that it is not for the regulator to approve Cloud providers. In Manitoba we concluded that the Code of Conduct applies equally to the real and the virtual world. Does the regulator approve of third party file storage firms, or document destruction companies? Lawyers are required to vet these firms and satisfy themselves that privilege will be protected and ensure same in their contracts with these companies. The same is the case with cloud providers. What should be taken from this is that cloud computing is a valuable legal tool and lawyers must remain responsible for ensuring ethical compliance.

  2. Jack’s point that the legal community “should receive the benefit of early, transparent, and clear guidance” is really a top issue in my mind.

    If it is not the regulator’s role to offer this kind of guidance, then the legal profession should be excused for being mistaken. Our Law Society has been rather generous with recommendations in the past. Take trust accounting software for example. Case in point: the mandatory course for solo practitioners in BC (run by the Law Society of BC) has materials on “Technology and Accounting“. These materials include very clear recommendations, plus suggestions for products.

    Here is an example from that link:

    For those of you with busier practices, you should consider one of the integrated systems (such as PCLAW and PCLAW PRO, ESILAW, LawStream, SmartWeal, PracticeMaster, Brief Accounting, Tabs III) created to address the needs of the legal market. They feature general accounting systems, and can incorporate conflict checking, calendaring (bring forward systems) and management reports specific to lawyers and law offices.1
    Ideally your system should also handle all necessary deductions and filings, including income tax, GST, PST, CPP, E.I., and WCB.
    Before settling on your new accounting system, consider consulting with an accountant or skilled bookkeeper. Each year you, or your firm on your behalf, must make a Trust Report filing. If your proposed system cannot fulfill the filing requirements, you may incur additional accounting or bookkeeping fees in the long term.2
    1 See Appendix D for a more complete overview of the different types of accounting systems, including various software applications and the “one-write” system. There may be other good accounting systems not reviewed in this material. Also, the information on accounting systems may become outdated as technology changes. For current information, contact David Bilinksy, Practice Advisor at the LSBC, at
    2 See ahead to the LSBC Trust Accounting Initiatives portion of the Trust Filings and Trust Applications module for discussion of a proposal that is being brought into effect, and will see the end of the need to bring in an outside accountant to review your accounts. In any event, even when the need to retain an outside accountant is eliminated, it would be a good idea to consult with any bookkeeper that you intend to hire on the software package best suited to your practice.