Contact Us

Event Profile

The Duty to Protect Client Confidences When Communicating Digitally, and the Consequences for Failing to Do So 2019 *In-Person at the D.C. Bar*

June 24, 2019

Credits: 2.0 Ethics Credit Hours

Description: As technology changes, the threats to client data and confidences increase. No matter what your firm’s size, or whether you are practicing in public or private sector, you must take reasonable measures to meet your ethical obligations, including how to address the risks of data breaches and cyber-attacks. D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct R. 1.1, R. 1.4, R. 1.6, R. 5.1, and R. 5.3 address the risks that accompany the benefits from using technology. In October 2018, the ABA issued Formal Opinion 483, which reaffirms attorneys’ obligations under the Model Rules. Formal Op. 483 builds on the ABA’s May 2017 Formal Op. 477R, which established attorneys’ ethical obligations to secure protected client information when communicating digitally. While the D.C. Rules differ in some respects from their Model Rules counterparts, Formal Op. 483 is instructive – though not controlling – for the D.C. practitioner. This presentation will discuss Formal Op. 483, the applicable D.C. rules, where professional responsibility and cybersecurity intersect, what attorneys should do to protect client data, how our courts and bar panels determine the “reasonableness” of the cybersecurity protections attorneys employ. The faculty will also address the attorney’s obligation to advise their clients of a data breach, a recipient attorney’s duty or discretion to search a sending attorney’s metadata, and what an attorney should do when (s)he inadvertently discloses privileged communications, or receives such communications.


Thomas E. Spahn, McGuireWoods LLP
Erika Stillabower, D.C. Bar Legal Ethics Program

Fee: $89 D.C. Bar Community Members; $99 D.C. Bar Members; $109 Government Attorneys; $129 Others

The D.C. Bar CLE Program now offers discounted group registration rates! For more information, contact the CLE Office at CLE@dcbar.org or 202-626-3488


Find it on Map

D.C. Bar
Erika Stillabower, Senior Legal Ethics Counsel, D.C. Bar

Thomas Spahn, McGuireWoods LLP