What Does Competence With Technology Mean? Pennsylvania Attorney Ethics Rules

Pennsylvania Attorney Ethics Rules Are Changing

Check out my detailed blog post on the changes to the Pennsylvania ethics rules. The post examines all of the changes which go beyond just the technology issue related to competence.  But technology is what most people are focusing on at the moment.

Here’s the thing. The rule change does not mean you all of a sudden must be an expert in technology.  What it means is this:

  1. Use technology that you, as an attorney, are required to use.  What would that be? I would suggest it includes electronic research (book research won’t cut it,) computers and email.  These last two are a societal norm. Failure to use them means you are working too slowly and communicating too slowly.  Depending on your practice area, there might be other requirements as well. You need to know what is reasonable and appropriate for your practice area.
  2. For whatever technology you do use, be aware of the risks.  Mitigate those risks.  If you use cloud computing, make sure you use a service that encrypts your data, and that will keep your client information secure.  If you use a smart phone or a tablet, make sure you use a password and that you can wipe it if you lose it or have it stolen.

The standard here is reasonable.  So don’t freak out.  It isn’t necessary.

As far as the rest of the changes, my other blog post examines them all in detail.  I will also be presenting a seminar for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute with Tom Wilkinson of Cozen and O’Connor.  See PBI’s website for the details. The seminar is on Dec 4, 2013.

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