Posted by: johnocunningham | May 20, 2019

Technological Competence – Ethical Duty and Competitive Edge

Earlier this year, Texas became the 36th state to adopt the ABA’s updated Model Rule 1.1 on requisite competence, which provides in Comment 8 that “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits associated with relevant technology.”

Ethicists, scholars and practitioners have published analyses of this evolving concept of technological competence, noting that it extends to all pertinent types of technology for improved efficiency, productivity, case management, document management, knowledge-sharing, data security, proper billing and more.

Lawyers and law firms are consequently faced with the need to hire experts who can help them keep up with all kinds of developments, including the latest in blockchain, data mining, and all of the technology associated with acronyms such as SaaS, GDPR, SOC standards, and more.

But client expectations are moving faster than the ethical rules, and lawyers should be looking to the example of their best corporate clients to see how they research, adopt and implement technologies that maximize their productivity and security.

In fact, chief legal officers for large corporate clients are now starting to list technology competence in productivity and security among the traits that they look for in outside counsel. Thus, law firms that are investing serious time and effort in technology competence should also be communicating to clients about what they are doing to lead the competition in the battle to serve them best.

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