By providing more CLE programming and more focus on technology-related issues, state and local bars are expanding their efforts to help lawyers handle the security and privacy challenges that come with greater reliance on technology.
One cause of the increased attention is the adoption in many states of some form of the provision in the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct that includes wise use of technology as part of the definition of providing competent representation to clients.
"I think there's been a dramatic change in the level of understanding and adoption of technology in the legal profession over the last couple of years, particularly since the adoption of this rule. I think the rule has spurred it along,” says Robert Ambrogi, a lawyer and blogger who writes regularly about legal tech. “Just the mention of technology in the model rules serves as a wakeup call for a lot of lawyers, as their states have adopted this rule and as they become more aware of it."
Model Rule 1.1 was revised in 2012 to add Comment 8, which says, "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."
As of press time, 32 states have formally adopted the provision, either verbatim or with some modifications, according to Ambrogi's blog, LawSites. Some other states have increased their technology-related offerings for lawyers without formally adopting the Comment 8 language, Ambrogi says.