Ethics Follow Up Part I: New Jersey bonafide office rule improves but still fails to recognize reality of the cloud

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For those of you who track ethics developments at MyShingle, there are a couple of updates to report.  Here’s Part I; Part II (on blogs and the First Amendment) is Ethics Follow Up 2: Will Virginia law blogger’s challenge to discipline deprive other blogs of First Amendment protection?

Back in March 2010, I mocked New Jersey’s short-sighted and outdated bonafide ethics rule that essentially required lawyers to maintain a physical location where clients could drop in anytime, be greeted by the lawyer, or some other human in the office and have access to paper files. In my view, the rule posed a problem for home-based lawyers who did not want to disclose a home address as well as purely virtual lawyers who might not have a physical address at all.  Nor did it recognize the reality that many firms use the cloud to store client files.

In any event, via Stephanie Kimbro, I’ve now learned that New Jersey has amended the rule to make clear that lawyers can use a part time but fixed virtual office address  where client files may be inspected on short notice and where process may be served. I suppose a cloud based lawyers could simply tote their computer over to the virtual space to grant access instead of schlepping a box of paper files.  In other words, while the new rule still doesn’t recognize the realities of today’s practice, at least it removes some of the earlier barriers.

Photo of office appears courtesy of Shutterstock

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