Risk Update

Rules & Risks — Texas Rule Vote Underway (Conflicts & Weather), Hackable Device Warning (Security)

Texas Lawyers Need to Prove They are True Professionals” —

  • “Texas lawyers have the opportunity to prove they are true professionals and deserve the right to practice law and engage in “self-regulation” by voting responsibly in the “Rules Vote” (from Feb. 2 to March 4), says Vincent R. Johnson, the South Texas Distinguished Professor of Law at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.”
  • “The amendments were crafted during the past three years, in a highly transparent process, by the Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda (CDRR). Hundreds of public comments that were made at hearings or received in writing were carefully reviewed by the Committee, and many resulted in improvements to the draft amendments.”
  • “Many of the proposed changes are long overdue. Texas lawyers last voted to approve changes to the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct in 2004. For the related Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, Texas lawyers last voted to approve changes in 1994.”
  • “Today, lawyers are often called upon to render short-term pro bono services in response to weather-related and other disasters. Ballot Item D will exempt such a pro bono lawyer from compliance with the conflict of interest rules, unless the lawyer actually knows that the representation presents a conflict for the lawyer or another member of the lawyer’s firm. In addition, a pro bono lawyer’s personal conflict will not be imputed to other firm members if certain simple steps are taken to protect the pro bono client’s confidential information.”

Use Of ‘Hackable’ Devices By NY Courts Raises Alarms” —

  • “Too many New York state judges and other court personnel are using ‘hackable’ personal electronic devices to conduct court business, raising the risk of cyberattacks, a judiciary-appointed commission said in a new report.”
  • “The Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts’ technology working group on Tuesday released results from a survey on remote judging in light of the challenges and shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which found that 42% of respondents — which include judges, court attorneys and other court staff — used their own devices to conduct court business remotely.”
  • “The use of personal devices should be ‘curtailed to the greatest degree possible,’ the working group warned, since their security cannot be assured by the court system.”
  • “‘[New York State Unified Court System] personnel should not be relying upon their personal devices to conduct court business as they are not sufficiently secure, are ‘hackable,’ and could compromise UCS information and other personnel’s devices,’ the report says.”
  • “The working group also noted that survey respondents don’t appear to be properly protecting their personal devices through security features like multifactor authentication, putting court-related work “at considerable risk.” Additionally, the installation of apps on devices used for remote work, both personal and court-issued, could compromise both court-related communications and work stored on the equipment.”