The Risk Manager, Fall 2011

  • Ohio lawyer dumps client files in dumpster: The lawyer in clearing files out of a storage area took some files with him, but placed some boxes of files in a dumpster and left approximately 20 other boxes by the dumpster. The boxes were discovered leading to television and newspaper coverage of the blunder. The lawyer received a public reprimand for this breach of his fiduciary duty of confidentiality. Disciplinary Counsel v. Shaver, 121 Ohio St.3d 393 (2008)
  • Connecticut retired lawyer wanted to destroy client files without reviewing them: The Connecticut Committee on Professional Ethics ruled that a retired lawyer may not destroy client files before reviewing them for critical documents, even if the files have been inactive for over 10 years. A diligent effort must be made to return critical documents to clients. If unable to locate a client, the critical documents must be safeguarded as long as practicable. (Opinion 2010-07, 9/15/2010)
  • Discarded laptop computer contained confidential information: The New York Times was given materials for a story from a laptop found in the garbage concerning legal defenses for a Goldman Sachs trader. Even after the laptop was found, e-mail concerning the defendant continued to be received on the laptop. It is not clear to whom the laptop belonged, but it is clear that throwing a laptop in the garbage is dumb.
  • Risk Management Tip: Laptops, Ipads, Smart Phones, and other communication devices look alike and can easily be confused with someone else’s. This can be a real problem when going through airport security. For example, it is easy for lookalike laptops to be mixed up in the security process if several laptops are being scanned near each other. To avoid this risk, put a distinguishing sticker on each of your electronic devices for easy recognition just as many people do with their luggage when flying.