Tech Competence and Attorneys: New Changes You Need To Know About

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If you are a lawyer or if you are hiring a lawyer, technology competence, often shortened to tech competence, is a term that you should be aware of. Recently, changes have been recommended in regards to tech competence and attorneys. Here is everything that you need to know about this topic.

What is Tech Competence?

Lawyers have always had a duty to be competent in the areas of law they practice. However, in 2012, the American Bar Association made a change to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The change being made was to make it clear that attorneys need to take steps to be competent in regards to technology. This change stated the lawyers need to stay competent in regards to the benefits and risks associated with technology that is relevant to their firm and line of work. Each state was free to adopt or reject this change, and to date, 36 states have adopted this change.

What New Changes Have Been Recommended in Regards to Tech Competence?

A committee met and issued a report in February of 2019 that recommended revisions be made to the current Rules of Professional Conduct in regards to technology. The changes that the committee recommended making were designed to make it clear that it is an attorney’s job and legal responsibility to ensure that they are competently representing their client. The changes that are being recommended to ensure that law firms and lawyers understand that this duty reaches into the technology that they use. The committee wanted to make it clear that it is a lawyer’s duty to ensure that client information is confidential, and as such, they are responsible for protecting against unauthorized access. Unauthorized access can occur if a database gets hacked or emails are intercepted.

The committee designed with making changes issued its report in February of 2019. The public was given the opportunity to comment and provide feedback through April 19, 2019. Currently, the recommendation is being reviewed by the D.C. Bar Board of Governors. Ultimately, they will decide if the recommendations should be passed on to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, who ultimately sets the rules of practice within the District of Columbia.


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