The Legal Skills Prof blog reports on Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog report that Georgia may join 37 states in addressing technology competence in its Rules of Professional Conduct.

The new proposed Rule 1.1 (Competence) would read in part:

Maintaining competence

[6] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. (emphasis added).

My Take:

Mississippi is virtually surrounded by states with a similar rule, with Alabama the exception. Suffice it to say that Mississippi might be the last one to the party, but it’s coming here too.

Technology competence is a big can of worms. It means different things to different people.

How much does anyone really know? How do you measure it? Being the cynic I am, 20 years ago when office computers didn’t work close to as well as they do now, I wondered how much some of the IT folks really knew. As long as they knew more than everyone else in your office, they looked like experts.

I have a better read on it now. Most IT folks address a problem by Googling for the solution. If you can Google, you can fix a lot of your tech problems.

I consider myself to have tech competence compared to most lawyers. But I’m always learning more and that I have much more to learn.

Currently, I’m reading a book on electronic discovery and digital evidence. There is a lot of law on the subject out there I didn’t know. That seems to be a theme in addressing tech competence–the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.

Which brings me back to the professional rules requiring attorneys to have tech competence. I applaud them. But I have no idea how someone would define it. One man’s tech genius is the next man’s tech fool.

  • Richard

    Excellent and timely post. A couple of years ago, I had to buy a book on digital forensics after being scared to death reading some e-discovery opinions. The bones of the modern economy are there and not understanding at a basic level how the systems work handicaps all lawyers. Without that knowledge, it is impossible to know what to tell your client to protect/produce and what to ask and expect from the other side. Plus the cost with it. There should be a LOT more mandatory CLE on technology.