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Securing Documents from Alteration & Disclosure

Total General: .50 Total Professional Responsibility: .50
In accordance with Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 and Comment [8], a lawyer must provide a client with competent representation, which requires a lawyer to keep abreast of changes in the law and its practices, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology. Moreover, Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6 and Comment [18] prohibits, generally, lawyers from revealing information relating to the representation of a client, and requires lawyers to make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, such information. This is why it is incumbent on lawyers to ensure their documents are secure from alteration and the information contained within documents is not inadvertently disclosed. This module will teach you some simple practices to help you and your firm comply with these ethical obligations when using some of the most common software - Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word.

In this module, you will learn:
  • the ethics rules that require you to be aware of relevant technology that relates to the security of electronic documents;
  • how you can better protect electronic documents from alteration; and
  • how you can lessen the likelihood that client information contained within electronic documents is disclosed inadvertently. 
Video Demonstrations
ISBA Advisory Opinions
Available at ISBA Advisory Opinions on Professional Conduct express the ISBA interpretation of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct in response to a specific hypothesized fact situation and do not have the weight of law and do not constitute legal advice.
Obligations when using cloud-based services (ISBA Op. 16-06, Oct. 2016)

ABA Formal Opinions
The opinions issued by the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility are based on the ABA Model Rules. The laws, court rules, regulations, rules of professional conduct, and opinions promulgated in individual jurisdictions are controlling. See ABA Jurisdictional Rules Comparison Charts, which shows how the rules of each jurisdiction compares with the ABA Model Rules.
Securing Communication of Protected Client Information (ABA Op. 477R, May 2017)
Content Contributors: Catherine Sanders Reach, Director for the Center for Practice Management, North Carolina Bar Association and Britney M. Bowater, Sr. Counsel, Ethics Education, ARDC

Important MCLE Notice: This Program was originally released as a PMBR (2022-2023) module. If you have previously viewed this Program as a PMBR (2022-2023) module and received a Certificate of Completion, you may only claim MCLE credit once for this Program within a 12-month period. The ARDC reports individual attorney attendance to the MCLE Board by the 5th of the month subsequent to the date of completion of the MCLE program (for example, September events will be reported by October 5).