Massachusetts ethics rules will now include the following provision, adopted in part from the ABA Model Rules for Professional Conducts.
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, and engage in continuing study and education.
Interesting that the requirement is only “should,” not “shall.”
That aside, you would think lawyers would want to be technology competent so as to better serve clients and attract the clients they would like to serve through networking online.
But as is the case with many people, the goal of many lawyers appears to be to do as little as possible to get buy — or to hope to get to retirement before they need to fully incorporate technology into their lives.
I found technology and the Internet as a practicing lawyer almost 20 years ago out of necessity.
I wanted people to know what my trial law team and I could do and to build a word of mouth reputation. The AOL message boards under the keyword, legal, where I answered thousands of questions were our savior. We also helped a boat load of people, for free, along the way.
I knew not a lick about technology other than how to find the Internet with my computer and how to use the Internet to help people.
As a result, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press called my small law office among the most tech savvy law firms in the country. USA Today said if we did not stop doing what we were doing, we would give lawyers a bad name.
I don’t share this to impress you, but to impress on you and lawyers that tech neophytes can use technology effectively if they want to and they care about the public we serve.
I wouldn’t look at the adoption of regulations requiring lawyers to stay abreast of technology as a step forward for our legal profession. I’d look at it as a sign that many, if not the majority, of our legal profession lack commitment and care.
That’s a little sad.