One of the trends in legal ethics over the past decade is the recognition of a duty of technological competence. Historically, the concept of a “competent” attorney primarily focused on a lawyer’s knowledge of a substantive area of the law coupled with his or her experience and ability to represent a client in a particular engagement. Technology’s impact on the legal profession has rendered this historical view of competence outdated.

The 2012 amendments to the ABA’s Model Rules confirmed that a lawyer’s duty of competence requires keeping “abreast of changes in the law and its practice,” including the risks and benefits of relevant technology. Andrew Perlman, the Chief Reporter of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 observed that the 2012 amendments reflect[ed] technology’s growing importance to the delivery of legal and law-related services.”While the obligation to be aware of the “benefits and risks” of relevant technology is a nebulous one, Perlman explained the standard had to be because a competent lawyer’s skill set needs to evolve along with technology itself,” and the specific skills lawyers will need in the decades ahead are difficult to imagine.”

Read the full post at Bloomberg BNA.