Michael Arrington writes at Techcrunch about a former law firm, all of whose records are going to be opened to the public:
Brobeck, Pleger & Harrison LLP was a well known law firm in silicon valley during the first Internet boom. They had thousands of startup and public company clients and handled all aspects of their legal needs. Their client list included Cisco. None of that mattered in the end though – the law firm dissolved in 2003 due to financial mismanagement after the downturn.
But now the nightmare could be beginning for Brobeck’s former clients. In a bizarre story, the bankruptcy court handling the Brobeck case, citing the historical value of the records, has given permission to turn over all confidential client documents to the Library of Congress and put on display in a new public archive. The project even has its own website and will have advertisements published in the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is one off the stupidest things I’ve seen in a while. First of all, these documents remain the property of the clients, not the law firm or anyone else. Those rights are being completely ignored by the court. Many of these documents will also contain extremely confidential information of third parties that were not clients to Brobeck and will therefore not be getting notice.
There’s a reason we prefer to trust our privacy to the laws of mathematics over those of man.