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Professional Responsibility for Research & Technology Competence

Judith Kaul  /  Wednesday, October 31, 2018  /  Categories: Just in Case, Data and the Law, Databases and Subscription Resources, New Tools and Databases, Other News  /  Rate this article:

It is a wise plan for current law students to familiarize themselves with legal practice-related technological developments as much as possible while in law school.  Many law firms look to the younger generation of lawyers to provide technological savvy and support to their law firms.  One of the reasons for this may be due to renewed emphasis of technological competence as professional conduct ethical responsibility in the last few years. 

If you wish to take advantage of an opportunity to learn more about legal practice technology and developing the requisite competence, you should definitely try to take the SPRING 2019 ONE WEEK COURSE, LAWS 4711 -  THE ETHICS OF TECHNOLOGY IN LAW PRACTICE.  (January 7 – 10, 1:00-4:00 P.M.) (1 Credit Hour Course).  REGISTRATION BEGINS NOV. 13. Here is why you should want to learn more about legal practice technology competence:

At a recent Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL), a session was devoted to The Duty of Technology Competence in the Algorithmic Society.  The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates adopted a revision to Comment 8 of the Model Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1, Maintaining Competence (2012), that added the duty of technology competence. Lawyers are now expected to be aware of both the benefits and risks associated with practice oriented technologies.  Early in this century, an emphasis was put upon lawyer competence especially related to Computer Assisted Legal Research (CALR). In the last several years, changes to CALR due to the rise in algorithmic search mechanisms now employed by Westlaw, Lexis, FastCase, Ravel Law, Casetext and other new CALR services has raised the issue of how lawyers can depend upon these algorithms. Usually, algorithms are trade secrets not revealed to practicing attorneys. Some lawyers have raised the question of whether they should rely strictly on Boolean search techniques to avoid biases that might be built into the algorithms.  There is an article by Robert Ambrogi discussing this topic: 31 States Have Adopted Ethical Duty of Technology Competence  (March 16, 2015). Mr. Ambrogi's blog,  LawSites, is recognized as one of the most important blogs to law practice. He regularly discusses tech competence in law practice.

Ohio adopted the revised comment to this duty Feb. 14, 2015 and it became effective April 1, 2015. It has also been adopted by Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. “The State Bar of California has adopted a final ethics opinion requiring attorneys who represent clients in litigation either to be competent in e-discovery or associate with others who are competent in e-discovery.”

If you take the Ethics of Technology in Law Practice course, it could help give you that technological edge needed for a future employment opportunity.  It will certainly give you an understanding of the theoretical and practical underpinnings of current technologies and how they impact the practice of law. It will also provide you with an understanding of eDiscovery in the practice of law. 

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