Need a Refresher on What We have Discussed:
- Lesson 1 – Getting Started
- Lesson 2 – Writing the First Paragraph
- Lesson 3 – What Information Are You Collecting?
- Lesson 4 – How You Use Information
Example from The Outsourced Associate
Let’s jump right into the TOA Policy:
TOA does not sell or rent your personal information to third parties for their marketing purposes without your explicit consent. TOA may share some or all of your personal information with:
- Subsidiaries and assigns of TOA and affiliate members. Affiliates will use this information to send you marketing communications only if you’ve requested their services.
- Parties to whom you grant permission for TOA to share.
- Service providers under contract who help with the business operations of the Site; or
- As permitted by law or in the good faith belief that such disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process.
Unpacking the Language
Let’s talk about how the list may be “sold” without violating this provision though.
If you sell your business, you are technically selling the information. That means, if I sell my law practice to another lawyer who I trust to carry on the legacy I am working to create, I will, technically, sell my list. Notice, though, the descriptive language in the policy. I will not sell or rent information for “their marketing purposes”. That means, I am not going to turn over my list to some other service professional looking for a list to blast emails to or to send out direct mailing pieces. I will not do that. Ever. I care too much about the community I have the privilege to serve. It is, of course, your decision whether you want to have that as an option in your business.
Now, let’s talk about how you may share the information:
- Subsidiaries and assigns: Remember how I am still considering the option of making Legal to English a stand alone business entity? Well, this clause allows me to continue using the information I collect with regard to Legal to English even if they separate. As I have mentioned before, it is not yet a subsidiary of The Outsourced Associate, but it may be. If it is not created as a subsidiary, it will be an affiliate or I will assign certain parts of the business to Legal to English at that time, which may include some of the information I have collected through this site. The important thing though is that it will not be given for “marketing purposes”.
- Affiliate members: I am looking to develop an affiliate style program for like-minded professionals. This will be a program where, if my clients choose to work with another service professional, I can share this information at that time for them to receive information from the affiliate member to make a determination of whether they want to work together or not. My goal is not to deliver the information to other service professionals for the purpose of marketing. If, however, a client indicates interest in one of my affiliate member’s services, and I pass along their information, I do not have control over the relationship anymore. So, I am limiting my liability by letting my users know that I will only share the information if they indicate a desire to work with one of my affiliates, but they may receive marketing emails as a result of that information being shared.
- Law Enforcement Offices, etc.: This is fairly self-explanatory. I may turn over information collected through the site if it is necessary for me to comply with the law. In this instance, I am reserving the right to use the information in any way that is necessary to protect my business or the business or property of other users of the site. I do not anticipate this ever happening, but I like to be thorough in my disclosures. Of course, in my case, some information may be subject to the attorney-client privilege and will not be turned over. That information would be covered in the Client Agreement or some other relevant agreement or policy on the site.
- Permission – This is similar to the affiliate members. This can involve me sharing information between clients or some other contact I have. This is covering myself, so I can perform normal networking information. If I work with Client A and they indicate a need for the services I know are offered by Client B, I may ask permission of one of the parties to share the information with the other. Again, I cannot help what happens after that, but I am sharing the information to help out.
- As Permitted by Law – This is the catch-all. This makes sure you can do things that you may not have thought of within the confines of the promises you have made. This is because you can’t think of everything. And, in the online world, things change quickly. Remember, legal is designed to protect you for growth. So, use phrases like this one to protect you from what you can’t predict. You are not being dishonest or trying to allow yourself wiggle room, you are simply protecting your business from liability. You can’t leave a legacy with your business if you don’t protect it and make sure it is still around generations from now.
Legal to English Example
Now, let’s see what that looks like in a more casual style:
I will not sell your information to anyone else so they can market to you. I care too much about your trust. Also, I don’t think that is right. There are, however, some other third parties and some ways that your information will be shared. I will only share your information to make sure I provide a better service to you and help you out as much as possible. I may share your information with any associated companies or, if LTE ever separates from my law practice, I will make sure your information stays with this service so you can continue to receive the information you have grown accustomed to receiving. I may also work to connect you with other people. In doing that, I may use your information, some of it I may have received through this site. If I do that, I will be trying to connect you with others that will help you or provide a service you need. Obviously, I cannot control what others do with your information if I do share it. I do promise, however, that I will only share your information if I believe it is in your best interest and then only to someone I trust will take care of the need you have. Your information will also be used by any services I use to help me provide the services through the site. That may include an email provider, merchant services, and other type services I may use from time to time. There may, of course, be some other legal reasons I have to share your information, but I will only do it if it is required by law and your information is not protected in any way that would allow me to avoid turning over that information.
This policy is more conversational and more focused on relationship. That isn’t because I am not concerned with my relationship with my customers of my law firm, but because it is the difference in style between a business and a blog. Legal to English is me talking to you. The Outsourced Associate is a law firm serving clients. As such, the tone is reflected in the legal.