I know, I know, it was just a few days ago that I wondered if I could go back to just working at the help desk after sitting in the session about ethics in e-discovery.
Truth is, even there, I was subject to more stringent ethical rules simply by virtue of working at a law firm. I was reminded of that today, while certainly handling ESI gives me more opportunity to screw up in a big way, every single person at the firm is responsible for handling some client data, and is charged with even keeping our client’s confidentiality. That’s just part of the job, and something that has pretty severe consequences for not adhering to.
So, while there’s certainly a lot of responsibility when collecting or processing ESI, or building a Summation database with the client’s documents, those ethical responsibilities have always been in place. You simply have to do what you know is right in every case, no matter what. You know it’s wrong to talk about your clients outside the office, you know it’s wrong to offer advice when you’re not a lawyer, and you know it’s wrong to be careless and end up with possible spoliation of ESI, so you don’t do it. It’s pretty clear what you’re not supposed to do, so be careful to do things the right way, and you won’t have to worry too much about the sanctions that comes from ethics violations.
Still, I get a little jittery every time I have to sign a chain of custody form. 🙂