News and Information
July 29, 2014

Comments Sought on Proposed Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1, 1.6

Pursuant to Part Six: Section IV, Paragraph 10-2(C) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to rules 1.1 (Competence) and 1.6 (Confidentiality) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct.

RULE 1.1 Competence

Comment

Maintaining Competence

[6] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education, including the benefits and risks associated with technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice. The Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia set the minimum standard for continuing study and education which a lawyer licensed and practicing in Virginia must satisfy. If a system of peer review has been established, the lawyer should consider making use of it in appropriate circumstances.   

RULE 1.6 Confidentiality

 (d)  A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information protected under this Rule.

Comment

Acting Reasonably to Preserve Confidentiality

[19]  Paragraph (d) requires a lawyer to act  reasonably to safeguard information protected under this Rule against unauthorized access by third parties and against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer’s supervision. See Rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3.  The unauthorized access to, or the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of confidential information does not constitute a violation of  this Rule if the lawyer has made reasonable efforts to prevent the access or disclosure.  Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s efforts include, but are not limited to, the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure if additional safeguards are not employed, the cost of employing additional safeguards, the difficulty of implementing the safeguards, and the extent to which the safeguards adversely affect the lawyer’s ability to represent clients (e.g., by making a device or important piece of software excessively difficult to use). A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures  or may give informed consent to forego security measures that would otherwise be appropriate under this Rule.  Whether a lawyer may be required to take additional steps to safeguard a client’s information in order to comply with other laws, such as state and federal laws that govern data privacy or that impose notification requirements upon the loss of, or unauthorized access to, electronic information, is beyond the scope of these Rules. 

Inspection and Comment

The proposed rule amendments may be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-3565, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Copies of the proposed rule amendments can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557, or can be found at the Virginia State Bar’s website at http://www.vsb.org/pro-guidelines/index.php/rule_changes

Not later than September 2, 2014, any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit to Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, a written comment in support of or in opposition to the proposed rule amendments.

Updated: Jul 29, 2014