Clouds

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“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now / from up and down, and still somehow / it’s cloud illusions I recall / I really don’t know clouds at all.”

When Joni Mitchell wrote these words back in 1967, she hardly could have known how relevant they would be in 2013. While cloud computing provides new ways to communicate and store information, there is much we don’t know about it.

Of particular concern to lawyers is the obligation to protect confidential information. A number of state bars have issued ethics opinions addressing the dangers of storing client information in the cloud, and suggesting that the failure to take proper precautions could be deemed a violation of the duty of confidentiality. In other words, a service provider’s failure to adequately protect information can be a violation of the lawyer’s ethical obligations, possibly resulting in discipline (not to mention a claim from an angry client).

As prescient as Joni was about cloud computing, her judgment was a bit more cloudy back in the Summer of ’69. She opted out of performing at Woodstock so as not to miss an appearance on the Dick Cavett Show. (Her fear, as it turned out, was unfounded; Woodstock performers Jefferson Airplane, Stephen Stills and David Crosby joined her on the show.) At least she gave us a song about Woodstock … and some wise advice on legal ethics.