In 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, thirty-eight states have officially adopted the substance of Comment 8 as part of their rules of professional conduct.
South Carolina has fallen in line. On November 27, 2019, the Supreme Court of South Carolina amended the comments to its rules of professional conduct to provide as follows:
To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including a reasonable understanding of the benefits and risks associated with technology the lawyer uses to provide services to clients or to store or transmit information related to the representation of a client . . . .
See South Carolina Supreme Court Amendments to Rules 1.0, 1.1, and 1.6, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 407, South Carolina Appellate Court Rules, Appellate Case No. 2019-000318 (Nov. 27, 2019).
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.