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Building better barriers

Briefs

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2011 85(1/2) LIJ, p.18

The LIV has released guidelines encouraging all practices to establish documented protocols for setting up and maintaining information barriers.

The guidelines are a modification of the full 2006 “Information Barrier Guidelines” created by the LIV and NSW Law Society.

The guidelines set out the types of protocols that law firms should have in place, such as limiting access to electronic and hard copy files, and educating staff about information that may be confidential.

The modifications were prompted by APT v Optus (2007) and were made by the LIV Guidelines Review Sub-Committee. They suggest law firms carefully control access to any client information by personnel in the practice and nominate a compliance officer to oversee each information barrier.

LIV Ethics Department administration assistant Daniella Li-Rosi said the aim behind the guidelines was to help law practices avoid breaching their duty of confidentiality owed to former clients.

“An information barrier, properly constructed, is an important element in ensuring that the duty of confidentiality is maintained, allowing law practices (in very limited circumstances) to act against a former client and still preserve their former client’s confidences,” she said.

“It is important to note, however, that the effectiveness of an information barrier depends on the facts of each individual case.”

Further work is progressing on the guidelines this year.

To view the modified information barrier guidelines, see http://bit.ly/fVuv9o.

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