Risk Update

Confidentiality Considerations — Lawyer/App Client Contact Sharing Concerns, Canadian Conflict Called

Just “Smartphones”? Or are cloud/server/desktop-enacted LinkedIn/Outlook/Microsoft Teams integrations also in scope (among other data flows)?: “New York Bar Issues Ethics Opinion on Protecting ‘Confidential’ Client Identity Information on Smartphones” —

  • “On April 8, 2022, the New York Bar issued an opinion to protect “confidential” client identity information stored on an attorney’s smartphone. In particular, the opinion prohibits an attorney who stores ‘confidential’ (as defined under Rule 1.6 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct) client identity information in the attorney’s “contacts” folder on the attorney’s smartphone from consenting to share their “contacts’ with a smartphone app, unless certain criteria are met.”
  • “The opinion is based on Rule 1.6(c), which provides that an attorney is required to ‘make reasonable efforts’ to prevent the disclosure of “confidential’ client information. The opinion explains that, before an attorney grants access to his or her smartphone’s contacts folder, the attorney must first determine whether any contact information is ‘confidential’ client information within the meaning of Rule 1.6. If clients’ names constitute ‘confidential’ information, the opinion states that an attorney must ‘make reasonable efforts to prevent the unauthorized access of others to those names, whether stored as a paper copy in a filing cabinet, on a smartphone, or in any other electronic or paper form.'”
  • “If the attorney’s smartphone ‘contacts’ folder contains ‘confidential’ client information, the attorney may not consent to share the contacts folder with a smartphone app, unless the attorney determines that (1) no person will view the information and (2) the information will not be sold or transferred to additional third parties, without the client’s consent.”

Former Alberta justice minister, ex-law partner accused of conflict of interest in Kamikaze campaign probe” —

  • “Former Alberta justice minister Jonathan Denis and his ex-law partner Dale Fedorchuk have been accused of conflict of interest in connection with the Kamikaze campaign investigation — and of making one client ‘the scapegoat’ for another: United Conservative Party heavyweight Jeff Callaway.”
  • “The allegation came out in an interview Cameron Davies, Callaway’s former communications director, gave to the Office of the Election Commissioners (OEC) as part of its probe into Callaway’s 2017 UCP leadership campaign. He also accused the two lawyers of breaching solicitor-client privilege, details of which are contained in the OEC investigator’s interview transcript and summary obtained by CBC News.”
  • “Davies was Callaway’s co-campaign manager and ran communications. He told investigators he’d convinced a number of people to go along with putting their names on donations they didn’t make — and received two $7,500 fines in February 2019 for obstructing the investigation into the campaign by Alberta’s election commissioner. Davies was also fined $12,000 for facilitating irregular donations for the Callaway campaign.”
  • “But the transcripts from the first in-person interview Davies gave to election commissioner investigators in March 2019 — a month after his obstruction fine — include allegations that his lawyer, Fedorchuk, wasn’t acting in his best interest.”
  • “Instead, he alleges that the lawyer gave privileged information to his law partner, Denis, in order to help another client under investigation by the OEC: Callaway”
  • “When contacted by CBC News, Fedorchuk and Denis said through Guardian Law that solicitor-client privilege prevents them from responding to these allegations — or even confirm their involvement in the case. Davies subsequently sent Guardian Law an email waiving his privilege for this story, but Guardian Law and Fedorchuk reiterated they’d be violating privilege were they to answer any of the inquiries.”
  • “The interview and investigator’s summary include specific claims made by Davies, which would violate Law Society of Alberta rules if proven accurate.”
  • “Running a dark horse campaign like Callaway’s isn’t against electoral law in itself. But much of its funding was, according to a months-long investigation by the election commissioner’s office.”
  • “In the OEC interview, Davies said when he learned he could be targeted by the commission’s investigation, he was initially referred to Denis, who served as Alberta’s attorney general and justice minister from 2012 to 2015. But Davies said the former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister assigned the case to Fedorchuk, his then-partner at Guardian Law Group.”
  • “What he didn’t know then, he said, is that Denis was representing Callaway. If a law firm is representing two clients who may have different interests, it’s essential to at least build an ethical wall between the two, University of Calgary assistant professor of law Gideon Christian says.”
  • “‘You cannot be a slave to two masters,’ he said. ‘The law firm should have put in place a structure to prevent confidential information to be exchanged between the two lawyers acting on behalf of different individuals in this case.'”
  • “Davies told investigators that no such wall existed. In fact, he said Denis was often present on privileged phone calls between himself and Fedorchuk.”