So you’re not a techie? Legal technology competence doesn’t need to be a pain.

Our world is digital; virtually, no pun intended, every document is an e-document or generated through an electronic system. There is also a legal technology competency requirement held by counsel which cannot be abdicated.  But fear not! While lawyers are required by federal and ethical rules to be competent with technology, this doesn’t mean lawyers must be tech nerds. As an eDiscovery solution provider, we do not intend to assist you in abdicating the responsibility; rather we are intent on empowering you to fulfill it.

The mandate

The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1 – Maintaining Competence – Comment 8 (adopted in most jurisdictions) states: “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, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” Lawyers must have a basic understanding of electronic discovery and engage experts in technology and discovery when appropriate.

But there’s more– it’s not just the rules to which lawyers must adhere.  Last year, Florida was the first state to adopt a mandatory technology CLE (continuing legal education) requirement for all practitioners.  Starting in 2017, all licensed lawyers in Florida must take a minimum of three hours of technology-related CLE courses during a three-year cycle to maintain their license. Other states will likely follow suit.  This industry progression underscores that knowledge of technology is integral to the practice of law in 2017.

Technology with smart user experience

eDiscovery technologies continue to evolve and are becoming more powerful and more complex. However, this should not daunt lawyers striving to maintain their competence.  The requirement of competence does not require lawyers to be experts or early adopters; it simply sets a standard to understand the (newer) tools of the trade.  Technology is only as intimidating as the interface used to present it.  The digital transformation of litigation discovery makes technological advancements accessible to even the least technical members of the field.

eDiscovery tools must support lawyers in their ethical obligation to be competent in technology.  A positive user experience should allow the user to navigate the eDiscovery software easily without feeling technically challenged. Proactive account managers, many of whom are attorneys themselves, are on hand to guide the users and answer any questions.  Self-service eDiscovery solutions miss the mark on the human element necessary to support litigation teams defensibly.

The ideal eDiscovery solution fulfills lawyers’  legal and ethical obligations to be competent in the technology used in their practice.  When robust technology and outsourced expertise are combined, lawyers are best equipped to serve their clients, resulting in cost-effective and efficient legal representation.

So, you don’t have to be a techie – but you do need to know what you don’t know which includes leveraging technology defensibly and engaging eDiscovery experts to support your practice.  At the end of the day, the buck stops with you, counsel.

Barbara KlasBarbara J. Klas, Esq. is an account manager based in Casepoint’s Minneapolis/St.Paul office. Barbara supports national corporate and law firm clients with litigation management, electronic discovery, technology and consulting services.  She began her practice as a litigation attorney at Rider Bennett, LLP in Minneapolis where she focused on commercial, employment and personal injury defense litigation.  Do email her for questions, comments, or to just have a conversation. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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