Being a competent attorney means being a competent technologist. ABA Model Rule 1.1 (Competence) requires all lawyers to stay abreast of technology even if they still use a Dictaphone and typewriter and think “the cloud” refers to the fluffy white stuff in the sky. It can be malpractice to misuse or misunderstand technology, and this misuse can take many forms. Lack of familiarity with technology can lead to improper production of confidential information, delays in litigation, wasting time and client funds, ending up on Above the Law (and not in a good way), and more.
Legal technology courses are becoming increasingly common on law school campuses, but there is no model curriculum or consensus as to what topics should be covered. The technology available to lawyers is revolutionizing the practice of law and introducing new opportunities and efficiencies, but is changing on a constant basis. Exasperating both of these situations is the sometimes murky interpretation and enforcement of the ABA rules.
At the Pence Law Library, we are currently surveying students’ technological competence through a Basic Technology Competence Checklist adapted from Sam Glover at lawyerist.com. The survey asks about basic computer, Internet, data security, and e-discovery competence. We intend to use the results of the survey to fill in the gaps in our students’ understanding of technology.
The goal of the presentation is to a.) discuss ABA model rule 1.1 and its commentary, as well as other professional rules and responsibilities imposed by state bars, b.) evaluate technological competencies for lawyers and students, including methods for their instruction, and c.) discuss the emerging technologies that will impact that practice of law in the future. All of these topics will be covered with a mind towards developing ethical members of the bar.