The Duty of Technological Competence

Technology in business handIn 2012, the ABA adopted an amendment to ABA Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1, comment 8, providing 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). Since then, twenty-five states have officially adopted Comment 8 as part of their rules of professional conduct.

Florida has fallen in line. On September 29, 2016, the Supreme Court of Florida amended the comments to its state’s rules of professional conduct to provide as follows:

[I]n order to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should engage in continuing study and education, including an understanding of the risks and benefits associated with the use of technology.

See In re Amendments to Rules Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.1 and 6-10.3, No. SC16-574 (Sep. 29, 2016). Furthermore, the court amended its mandatory continuing legal education rules to require at least three hours of CLE every three years offered by “approved technology programs.” Given the importance of technology to a modern lawyer’s law practice, all states should follow suit.

Robert Ambrogi at LawSites blog keeps a running list of state adoptions of this technological-competence principle.