Very interesting post on TechCrunch on how the digital records of law firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, for some 10,000 clients, will be preserved and made available to a limited group of scholars and researchers, through what will be called the Brobeck Closed Archive.
Wow. At first blush I had the same reaction as Michael Arrington (the TechCrunch guy) and the guy who wrote the original article that he cited. But if you read through the FAQ at the sight, as well as the comments that the professor who is running the thing posted on TechCrunch, its pretty clear that they’re not going to be displaying lawyer-client documents on a website for all to see – there will be some measure of protection put into place.
That being said, though I certainly understand the historical significance of these records, and the objectives of the archive (which seem entirely noble) I get a bad feeling about this generally – you know, kind of like that little tickle at the back of your throat that almost, but not quite, wants to make you cough. Heck, if I were a client of a law firm, would I want anyone looking at my counsel’s records on me? Even if it were a researcher? Even under NDA? And even with restrictions? Well, no, I don’t think so. Not at all. Its not any researcher’s business – not at all. So sure, maybe as an opt in program, if the client consents, but otherwise, even, I think, where a corporate client no longer exists to approve disclosure, the records should also do the same.
So, if you were once a Brobeck client, and haven’t seen the notice, you might want to get in touch with the archive.