March 31, 2016 Articles

How Amended Civil Rule 1 Changes the Landscape of Lawyers' Ethical Obligations

A lawyer's duty of competence under Model Rule 1.1 is necessarily implicated by the lawyer's duties under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1.

By Christopher Skinner and Stephanie McCoy Loquvam

The amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which took effect on December 1, 2015, have been described as “ushering in the most significant changes to discovery and case management practices in more than a decade.” According to Chief Justice John Roberts, writing in his 2015 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, “[t]he amendments may not look like a big deal at first glance, but they are.” The amendments are intended to expedite the litigation process and make discovery more efficient and cost-effective. They largely address navigating and managing the abundance of information and evidence available in a digital age. Although nine rules were amended, the amendments to Rules16 and 26—dealing with case management and adopting a proportionality standard for electronically stored information—have received the most attention. The amendment to Rule 1 may, however, have the most profound impact on the litigation process and on lawyers’ ethical obligations.

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