In 13 States, You Can’t Be a Luddite Anymore

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From Bob Ambrogi:

By my count, 13 states have so far formally adopted the revised comment to Rule 1.1.

Here’s that comment, just to remind you:

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 …

In fairness, it’s not at all clear that you can’t be a Luddite anymore in those states. As I pointed out in the comments on Bob’s post, the comment does not change Rule 1.1, and it’s not clear that it imposed a duty of technological competence.

And that comment says “should,” not “must.” In the report, I believe the committee explained that it was just trying to point out the obvious [that technological competence is part-and-parcel of professional competence], but I’m not sure it’s a straight line from what the comment says to a duty of technological competence. Isn’t it the same for states that adopt the changes as-is?

Brian Tannebaum also pointed out that the comment’s vagueness probably provides plenty of cover for Luddite lawyers.

To me, it appears that lawyers simply need to know that water is wet, or something.

Even so, the comment to Rule 1.1 spreads awareness, if nothing else, that being incompetent when it comes to technology is no excuse when your clients are harmed.

Featured image: “dinosaur skeleton isolated with clipping path” from Shutterstock.

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  • Your choice of illustration is telling: how many of us know what a clipping path is?

    • Fortunately, that’s not something most lawyers need to know. Unless they work with designers, maybe.

  • Guest

    As Ambrogi pointed out in his comments to 13 States Have Adopted the Ethical Duty of Technology, the Minnesota order is confusing. It’s not clear whether Minnesota actually adopted Comment 8 to Rule 1.1, which states that lawyers should keep abreast of the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” in law practice. http://bit.ly/1Ch8i9A

  • As Ambrogi pointed out, the Minnesota order is confusing. It’s not clear whether Minnesota actually adopted Comment 8 to Rule 1.1, which states that lawyers should keep abreast of the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology” in law practice. http://bit.ly/1Ch8i9A