Login | February 24, 2020

ABA considers tech training in 2019 survey

Technology for Lawyers

Published: January 24, 2020

This will be my third and last column on the 2019 ABA technology survey report of how lawyers use technology (or not).
In 2012 (eight years ago, if you’re counting), the ABA adopted Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which stated that a lawyer should “keep abreast of…the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology….” This has widely been interpreted to mean that lawyers need a level of reasonable competency in the technology that they use that impacts their clients’ data. Failure to do so may engender some problems with the bar, much less with the clients themselves.
Are they keeping up? Sort of. The 2019 ABA tech survey has some answers.
First of all 36 out of the 50 states now require that attorneys keep abreast of technology. I am clueless about the 14 states that don’t have this requirement, but whatever. (Side note: I once had a paralegal student at Kent State who was a Russian lawyer and who eventually went to law school in this country. He couldn’t believe how different the laws are here state-to-state. But, again, whatever).
So one of the issues in lawyers relating to the tech in their offices is training. Do law offices train their attorneys on their tech? On their practice management, data storage protocols, workflows, calendaring, client contact processes, etc.?
The corollary here is mandatory CLE. You can have all the knowledge in the world available to you, but do you know how to access it, why it exists, and how to use it properly.
Well, two years ago, over 70 percent of attorneys answered in the positive when asked if their firms provided technology training. In 2019, that was down to 60 percent across the board. Ere lies a huge gap in firm size—large firms almost universally have training available, but the smaller the firm, the less likely they are to train their staff.
But—fewer than half of attorneys responding to the survey thought that technology training was important to them. Let that sink in. Just because training is available doesn’t mean that these folks will avail themselves of it.
Come on already. There is danger around every corner, and you’re sitting around Netflix and chilling. Wake up.