This past Friday, I had the good fortune to attend the Pacific Legal Technology Conference 2011 in beautiful downtown Vancouver. Among the many excellent sessions I attended, one in particular stood out for me: “Risks, Security, and Ethics in the Cloud”, presented by Simon Chester of Heenan Blaikie and Nicole Garton-Jones of Heritage Law.
I’m not going to attempt to summarize their informative presentation here; rather, I simply want to point out one of the documents Mr. Chester and Ms. Garton-Jones encouraged the attendees to read, and to suggest that you read it also: The Law Society of British Columbia’s “Report of the Cloud Computing Working Group” (July 15, 2011).
At this point, you may be asking yourself why I have lured you – a mediator who isn’t interested in cloud computing – into reading this post, just to suggest you read a document on the topic. Let me explain:
- The Cloud Computing Working Group’s document may focus on doing business in the cloud but many of the key issues it raises – from questions about jurisdiction to the security of client information – are applicable to technology use more broadly. Even if the use of technology in your mediation practice is limited or rudimentary in nature, you may well find many of the issues discussed to be relevant to you.
- Chances are, if you are using any of today’s information and communication technologies in your mediation work, that at least some aspects of delivering or managing your service involves cloud computing. The people you are serving undoubtedly expect, and certainly deserve to have, your service based on a solid, up-to-date understanding of how to carefully and appropriately manage the technologies you are using. The Working Group’s document is, I believe, a good starting place for exploring the areas in which you might need to solidify your knowledge about today’s technologies.
- Finally, while the intended audience for the document is lawyers in British Columbia, a substantial amount of the content translates across to the practice of mediation generally. For this reason alone, in my view, it warrants the attention of mediators who use technology in their work regardless of whether or not they are also lawyers – and, whether or not they are practicing in B.C.
From what I can tell, there is a disconcerting dearth of accessible, comprehensible and well thought-out information about the risks, security and ethics of using technology in the practice of mediation – including in practicing distance mediation. Could the “Report of the Cloud Computing Working Group” be used as a launching point, or even as a foundational piece, for mediators to begin serious discussion and development of mediation-specific information and practical guidance on this important topic?
I think so. More importantly, though, what do you think?