Lawyer Technological Incompetence: It’s Not So Funny Any More

old-email“Good old Frank in the corner office. He’ll never learn to use email. Ha!”

The joke’s on South Carolina lawyer Cynthia E. Collie, who was suspended on October 17th by the South Carolina Supreme Court for refusing “to comply with the explicit directives, orders, and rules of this Court . . . to maintain and monitor an operational email account.” See In re Collie, No. 2012-213164 (Oct. 17, 2013). If this message isn’t clear enough, in 2012 the ABA amended ABA Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1, comment 8 to provide that “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology . . . .” See ABA, Commission on Ethics 20/20 Resolution 105A (August 2012). Why there are lawyers extant in 2013 who still refuse to use email is baffling.

Email isn’t the future. It’s the present, as are other once-cutting-edge practices like document scanning and using case management software. Lawyers must understand that keeping up with technological change isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Or else.