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ZOOM MEETINGS AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION

THE ATTORNEY – CLIENT RELATIONSHIP DURING THE ZOOM ERA AND AMID COVID

perazzo-law-295x300Miami: The Perazzo Law Firm shares insight on the Client-Personal Injury Attorney relationship amid the coronavirus and by way of Zoom meetings.

For personal injury lawyers that meet with their clients and accident victims, communication is fundamental for the success of their insurance claim. And it’s no secrtet that the coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the way people  communicate and conduct their activities to study, relate, and do business. Furthermore, the global economy has been able to survive thanks to this new method of communication.

The birth of the Zoom meeting has added to the obsoleteness of the landline as video teleconferencing has become the bloodline of human activity for social, corporate, and learning interaction; not to mention, activities involving personal injury attorney-client relationships for dealing with legal matters in light of insurance claims following an accident.

With the boom of platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet, which have risen from 10 million to 200 million users since August, personal injury lawyers are more than ever implementing Zoom for communication between them and their clients.

Jonathan Perazzo, Miami personal injury lawyer asks how safe is it for lawyers and clients to discuss sensitive legal matters by way of these virtual technologies? Are the clients and attorneys vulnerable to external threats from hackers? Are there any ethical implications to be considered when providing legal services remotely to clients?

The answer is “YES.”

But what can personal injury lawyers and their clients do to lessen the threat when Zoom meetings are used to communicate sensitive information between not only attorneys and clients, but rather, clerical legal staff and third-parties involved in the personal injury insurance claim?

Zoom Cybersecurity Concerns

As we all know, the Zoom video conference app makes it possible for people to interact on a global scale amid the coronavirus pandemic. It not only allows individuals to communicate one on one, but it allows for large groups of people to carry out all sorts of activities such as: lectures, conferences, AA or NA meetings to exercise workouts. In the meantime, security researchers and hackers have been active trying to detect areas of vulnerability which may be exploited by those seeking undermine its users for whatever purpose. The security of the Zoom platform has been addressed in several publications:

At present, there exist two unique matters concerning the usage of Zoom that are capable of implicating the ethical duty of a lawyer:

(1) Software Vulnerabilities— Zoom’s codebase may contain issues that could permit felons to compromise end-users by exploiting the Zoom platform.  to compromise its end-users

(2) Zoombombing—the practice of criminals to enter Zoom sessions in order to spy or interfere with sessions, thus retrieving confidential or sensitive content which could jeopardize the parties involved.

With the public release of these two weak points in the Zoom video conference technology, the platform’s technological engineers have been busy updating software to remove or lessen any risk to end-users.

Duty to Clients

balance-1172786-300x204Attorneys receive and send hundreds of emails per day, and just like these emails are strongly regulated by the State and American Bar Associations to protect confidentiality.  Thus, Zoom video conference meetings require similar, if not greater regulations to protect clients and lawyers. According to the American Bar Association, “Attorneys possess a reasonable expectation of confidentiality in communications carried out via any and all forms of electronic communication sent and received via the internet, regardless of some potential risk of interception and disclosure.

What must Attorneys do when using Zoom for video conferance meeting with Clients?

In order to carry-out confidential meeting with clients, lawyers must:

  • Enable Meeting Passwords
  • Disable Join Before Host
  • Enable Lobby with Approval
  • Lock Zoom Room When the Correct Attendees Have Joined
  • Disable Guest Chat
  • Disable Guest Screen Sharing

Though these controls do not grant automatic compliance with ethical duties, it does provide a solid ethcial basis for confidentiality and the oath taken by attorneys to safguard the wellbeing of the clients.

The American Bar Associations lists a detailed guideline for Client – Attorney electornic / virtual communication via the internet (see the ABA report regarding Zoom meetings).

At the Perazzo Law Firm, all security measures aimed at protecting their clients confidentiality are applied, and this includes all communication between legal staff members, clerks, thir-parties, and especially the attorney-client communication.

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