Lawyers have received new guidance on the extent of their professional responsibility to ensure the secure transmission of client information. Last week, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 477 entitled “Securing Communication of Protected Client Information.”

Though they are not considered mandatory authority governing lawyer behavior, the ABA’s ethics opinions and model rules provide important guidance to the states in the construction of their own rules of professional conduct. Significantly, the opinion comes at a time when data security is at the forefront of the national conversation, and as a result, it should have maximum impact in shaping the agenda of the various state bar associations.