The Internet: a Primer for Lawyers and Everyone Else

heartbleed

The new media site, Vox, is quickly establishing itself as a sort of FAQ (frequently-asked questions) for just about everything you might want to know about current events. And its “Everything you need to know about the Internet” article/resource page/deck of “cards” is a must-read.

Remember the comment to Rule 1.1:

[8] 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

That “should” makes the comment aspirational, sure, but it more than suggests that competent lawyers must know more than where to find the power button on a CPU. A great deal more than you will find in the Vox article, of course, but it does contain essential information for lawyers. It’s hard to appreciate the true threat posed by the Heartbleed security flaw, for example, if you don’t have a basic understanding of the role SSL plays in your everyday Internet use. Or the risks of using the cloud if you don’t know what the cloud is.

“If you don’t have a basic understanding of the technology you entrust with your clients’ information … I think you probably are not competent to represent anyone.”

Because a basic understanding of the Internet is so essential to the tools we trust with our clients’ information every day, I’m comfortable going a bit further than the comment to Rule 1.1. If you don’t have a basic understanding of the technology you entrust with your clients’ information so that you can make informed choices about security, I think you probably are not competent to represent anyone.

That’s just my opinion. But like your computer, the Internet is now a tool of the lawyering trade. Not knowing how it works is just as much a problem as not knowing how to put together a brief.

So go read the Vox article. (Then, encrypt your files already.)

Legal Ethics, Legal Technology

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  • kathleenryanpc

    Nice post. It is so true…and it’s important to keep up with all the new technologies!

  • Richard

    Agree. Staying up to date on technology should be considered on the same level as checking citations through Shepard’s or KeyCite or reviewing the session laws. Anything less is possibly malpractice.

  • Guest

    My CPU doesn’t have a power button.

    • http://samglover.net/ Sam Glover

      Then I guess turning it on is a bit more challenging for you.

      • Guest

        Your Central Processing Unit doesn’t have one either :-P

        • http://samglover.net/ Sam Glover

          Yes, fine. Technically. I was using the term colloquially and you darn well know it.