Fulfilling the Ethical Duty of Technology Competence for Attorneys

Rapidly evolving technology continues to change what it means for a lawyer to be competent. The Model Rules of Professional Conduct make clear in a 2012 amendment to Comment 8 of Rule 1.1 that lawyers not only have a duty to be knowledgeable of the substantive areas of law in which they practice but also to be competent in technology. At least 23 states have adopted the revised comment, and other states that have not formally adopted the rule change have nonetheless acknowledged the duty of technology competence for lawyers. A practitioner who is not technologically competent faces potential sanctions as well as malpractice and disciplinary exposure. BakerHostetler partner Karin Scholz Jenson and retired Magistrate Judge John Facciola spoke with the Cybersecurity Law Report about specific steps lawyers can take to achieve technology competence in various aspects of their practice. We also highlight some of the insight shared on the topic by other legal experts at a recent PLI panel, “Law Firms, Ethics and Cybersecurity.” See also “Examining Evolving Legal Ethics in the Age of the Cloud, Mobile Devices and Social Media (Part One of Two)” (Aug. 26, 2015); Part Two (Sep. 16, 2015).

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