The time is now for lawyers to learn technology based on the ABA Model Rules said a panel at ILTACON.

Remember the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live? Traveling Coaches senior change management consultant Julia Montgomery says this is the light in which she considers a lawyer she worked with in the past.

This is not to say that this lawyer was a curmudgeon by any means – while he was “very savvy at what he did,” whenever it came to technology, he would say, “Julia, I’m just a lawyer,” and “I don’t know how to do technology.”

Yet, as with the Stone Age, “those days are behind us,” Montgomery said at ILTACON 2016. “If you still have an Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer at your firm … you’re going to have to get them on board.”

In the session “Helping Lawyers Meet Ethical Obligations of Technical Proficiency,” panelists discussed the expectations of lawyers to learn technology as well as how to get the wheels in motion. And when it comes to getting lawyers, widely considered luddites of the digital age, to start learning technology, Montgomery advised: “The big stick that you have in your favor and in your hand will be the ABA Model Rules.”

To help understand why these rules are important and how they apply to technology, the panel turned to Claudia Morgan, e-discovery attorney in the litigation department at Watchell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

According to Morgan, Model Rule 1.1 (duty of competence) makes clear that “every attorney is ethically obligated to have the ability to understand the technology … and the potential to understand their limitations.”

Yet out in the field, she described some of what she sees as “frightening,” with “people not just only being incompetent … but having no grasp of what they lack in the area of technology.”

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