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Technology and Its Impact on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

by: Kelly A. Williams, a shareholder at Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C.

For this end-of-the year blog entry, I took a look back at some of the bigger developments in technology and the law in 2012.  One of these developments was the ABA’s revisions to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to address technology.  These changes impact lawyers and clients.  Highlights of these revisions (Recommendation 105A) include the following:

The application and interpretation of these rules will be the big issue.  For instance, what does it mean for lawyers and clients that lawyers must keep abreast of the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology?  This could mean, for example, lawyers, especially in cases involving the production of large amounts of data, need to understand the benefits and risks of “predictive coding.”  It could also mean that lawyers need to know the benefits and risks of “cloud computing” and other relatively recent technological advancements affecting the practice of law.  Another important issue is what a lawyer must do to protect client data from being stolen or lost.  The model rules give factors to be considered, but these hardly provide all the answers.

While Pennsylvania has not yet adopted these revisions, lawyers in Pennsylvania should be aware of these requirements, should be guided by them and should be learning about technology.  Technology has a significant impact on lawyers’ clients and their practice.  Lawyers can no longer “hide” from technology.

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