Risk Update

Risk Roundup: Technology Competency Rules, Email Elimination, California Fingerprints & Hollywood Conflicts

Michigan Supreme Court proposes changes to attorney rules in light of new technology” —

  • “The Michigan Supreme Court on Monday proposed adding technological competency to the list of required skills under the state’s rules of professional conduct for attorneys.”
  • “Attorneys would be required to engage in continuing education within the realms of developing technology. Attorneys would also be held to a higher standard in regard to confidentiality when transmitting information electronically. It would be required for attorneys to take reasonable measures to prevent the unwarranted dissemination of client information.”
  • See the text of the proposed new rules: here.

Not a law firm (yet)… but are we witnessing the birth of a trend? “$10 trillion custodian Northern Trust is exploring shutting off external email for thousands of its employees as it tries to thwart cyber threats” —

  • “Northern Trust, which oversees roughly $10 trillion, is looking at restricting the ability of some employees to send email outside the company as it beefs up its cybersecurity, according to a top executive at the company who requested anonymity because the policy hasn’t yet been formalized.”
  • “The Chicago-based firm is exploring limiting external email to only employees who work with clients and other groups outside the company to avoid potential privacy breaches.”
  • “Right now, the firm’s email system cautions employees not to send any information externally, with warnings that pop up about sending such a message. These warnings are typically disregarded, the executive said, so the firm is thinking about taking more drastic measures.”

Re-Fingerprinting Of California Lawyers Turns Up Thousands Of Criminal Records” —

  • “The State Bar of California has received more than 6,000 criminal history reports to review as a result of the ongoing re-fingerprinting of lawyers in the state.”
  • “Slightly more than 2,200 of the records involve attorney convictions for which the bar had no previous record, according to data from early March. Almost all of those crimes were misdemeanors, and less than one percent were felonies.”
  • “The 20 previously unreported felonies have already been sent to the bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel for review and possible disciplinary action.”
  • “Re-fingerprinting is underway because the California bar was required by a 1989 law to ensure the retention of submitted fingerprints so it could receive notifications of attorney arrests and convictions, but the agency did not seek to comply with the statute until recent years.”

It can be fascinating to observe how other professions and industries navigate their own conflicts landscape, and how those rules evolve (or are created) over time. For those similarly fascinated (and similarly interested in what show runner David Simon has to say): “Why Hollywood Writers Are Firing the Agents They Love” —

  • “Now the Writers Guild of America is fighting back. The union represents about 13,000 screenwriters—some 8,500 of whom have agents—and it provides them with health and pension benefits and advocates for writers’ interests with studios and producers. Last week, the guild sued the four biggest talent agencies—WME, Creative Artists Agency, ICM Partners, and United Talent Agency—on the grounds that their packaging practices violate California and federal laws by pitting the financial interests of the agencies against those of their clients. The union also instructed its members to fire their agents after failed negotiations on a new industry code of conduct to replace the compact that governs how agents represent writers.”
  • “David Simon, the creator of The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street, recently wrote an impassioned blog post, reprinted on Deadline, about the inherent conflict that packaging presents: ‘The problem is that the agency incentive to package shows and provide larger payments to themselves has obliterated any serious thought about aggressively negotiating on behalf of any writer, or actor, or director, large or small. Why bother to fight for 10 percent of a few dollars more for this story editor or that co-executive producer when to NOT do so means less freight on the operating budgets of the projects that you yourself hope to profit from? Why serve your clients as representatives with a fiduciary responsibility and get the last possible dollar for them, when you stand to profit by splitting the proceeds of a production not with labor, but with management—the studios who are cutting you in on the back end? Why put your client’s interest in direct opposition to your own?'”