Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Paperless Office

In a recent ethics opinion, the Alaska Bar Association concludes that a lawyer may maintain copies of documents in electronic format, but may not destroy or alter "original" client documents:

"Simply because a lawyer may keep electronic records of his or her business records, that does not mean the lawyer is free to discard 'original' records. Rule 1.15 requires the lawyer to safeguard and hold a client's property separate from the lawyer's own property. Thus, for example, if a lawyer scans client documents for electronic document management, that does relieve the lawyer from the obligation to maintain and safeguard the client's property. Further, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act recognizes that certain types of documents must be maintained in original form. These include wills, testamentary trusts, and certain documents created under the Uniform Commercial Code. In the Committee's view, the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct...permit lawyers to maintain any records required to be kept pursuant to Rules 1.4, 1.15 and 7.2 in electronic format. The lawyer must still maintain in original form any client documents entrusted for safekeeping." (Mike Frisch)


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