Technology Changing at Lightning Fast Speeds


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Technology Changing at Lightning Fast Speeds

  1. 1. THE DAILY RECORD Monday, September 12, 2011 WESTERN NEW YORK’S SOURCE FOR LAW, REAL ESTATE, FINANCE AND GENERAL INTELLIGENCE SINCE 1908 LegalCURRENTS Technology changing at lightning-fast speeds In last week’s column, I expressed alarm regarding what I per- etched into our collective conscious also serves as a technologi-ceived to be a shift in thinking on the issue of electronic com- cal benchmark. Recall that there were no smart phones, no cellmunications on the part of the American Bar Association’s phones with built-in cameras or video capabilities, no ability toStanding Committee on Ethics and Professional instantaneously provide updates and information viaResponsibility in Formal Opinion No. 11-459. Prior tweets or status messages.decisions, regarding communications with clients, For many of us, the past 10 years passed unbeliev-such as ABA Formal Opinion No. 99-413, focused on ably quickly and it seems as if Sept. 11 happened justthe sensitivity of the issues being discussed when yesterday. And yet, since then, so much about our day-determining the most appropriate and secure method of to-day lives has changed. And much of that changecommunication. accelerated at an incredible, never-before-seen rate However, in Op. No. 11-459 the committee appeared during the latter half of the depart from its prior reasoning when it stated that “A By way of perspective, consider this timeline:lawyer sending or receiving substantive communica- • February 2004 — Facebook launched as student-tions with a client via email or other electronic means only siteordinarily must warn the client about the risk of send- • April 2005 — Gmail launched in private betaing or receiving electronic communications using a By NICOLE • June 2006 — Google Spreadsheets, Google’s first BLACKcomputer or other device, or email account, to which a non-email cloud product, launchedthird party may gain access.” This conclusion implies Daily Record • July 2006 — Twitter launched Columnistthat any type of electronic communication poses a risk, • August 2006 — Amazon EC2 cloud productand a corresponding duty to warn, simply by virtue of the method released in private betaof dissemination of information. • September 2006 — Facebook opened to the public. Its num- I don’t believe that the committee’s intent was to discourage ber of users increased from 12 million in Dec. ’06 to 50 millionattorneys from using electronic communications with their in Oct. ’07clients. Far from it. Instead, I believe this broadly worded con- • June 2007 — iPhone released in U.S.clusion was an unintentional oversight. However, its effect is far • November 2007 — Kindle released in U.S.reaching since the committee’s conclusions, while not binding, • July 2008 — Apple launches the App Storeare used as a reference by state ethics committees and thus set • April 2010 — iPad released in U.S.the tone on matters of ethics nationwide. • June 28 — Google+ launched in private beta and had more This arguably unintentional message sent to attorneys — that than 25 million users within 4 weekselectronic methods of communication are inherently suspect — Over the last 7 years, technology has transformed our personalcould not have come at a more pivotal time. Our profession is at and professional lives. New, extremely profitable businessesa crossroads and any message that discourages adaptation to new exist that weren’t even conceivable just 5 years ago. Think abouttechnologies could have drastic effects, both short term and long it — the rate of change has been mind-boggling and unlike any-term. thing we’ve ever experienced. This is because technology is advancing at a rate never before Now, social media and smart phones are ubiquitous. Mobileseen. Think back to our lives just a decade ago, as we pass the10th anniversary of Sept. 11. That horrible day that is forever Continued ... Reprinted with permission of The Daily Record ©2011
  2. 2. THE DAILY RECORD Monday, September 12, 2011 WESTERN NEW YORK’S SOURCE FOR LAW, REAL ESTATE, FINANCE AND GENERAL INTELLIGENCE SINCE 1908Continued ... The legal field is not exempt from this societal transformationapps, a concept that didn’t even exist until 3 years ago, will bring and leaders in the legal field would be wise to acknowledge the level of change that is occurring, understand it, accept it andin more than $15 billion in revenue this year. The first Kindle encourage lawyers to do the same.wasn’t released until the end of 2007, but Amazon’s eBook store Because ethics committees set the tone, it is therefore imper-will generate more than $5 billion in revenue by the end of 2011 ative that they lead the way by issuing thoughtful and carefullyand 15 percent of Simon & Schuster’s revenue comes from worded opinions that provide lawyers with much-needed guid-eBooks. ance in navigating this new and ever-changing world. To do any- More than 30 million iPads have been sold in little over a year. thing else would be a disservice to the profession.National news broadcasts regularly include references to tweets Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach inand Facebook pages. News breaks on Twitter and Google’s Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media forsearch engine tracks the flu more quickly and accurately than Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in Newdoes the Center for Disease Control. York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book Finally, while it took radio 38 years to reach 50 millions users, about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by thetelevision 13 years, and Facebook 3 1/2 years, it took Google+ ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of andjust 4 weeks to reach 25 million users. speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law It is indisputable — change is occurring at an incredible rate and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can beand this exponential change is affecting every aspect of our lives. reached at Reprinted with permission of The Daily Record ©2011