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We previously wondered whether failing to keep up with technology could subject a lawyer to discipline or malpractice. There aren't a whole lot of state bar opinions on the topic. Really, the only time a court has weighed in was Zubulake v. UBS Warburg (Zubulake V), where a federal district court admonished in-house counsel for not knowing how the corporation's backup tape retention system worked, leading to the loss of highly probative evidence. Counsel failed so spectacularly that the court granted a jury instruction allowing jurors to infer that the really sexy smoking guns the plaintiff wanted were contained on those tapes.

In order to make clear that lawyers need to know what they're doing, the State Bar of California has proposed a Formal Opinion on lawyers' duties to handle electronic discovery, in order to delineate what a lawyer needs to know about e-discovery to remain ethical.

Can being a Luddite expose a lawyer to discipline? Maybe, said ABA members at a program during the group's annual meeting in Boston, pointing to a recent revision to the ABA's Model Rules as the culprit.

In 2012, the ABA modified Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 (that "a lawyer shall provide competent representation to the client") to require lawyers to "keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology" (emphasis added).

Andrew Perlman, the Ethics 20/20 Commission's reporter (and a professor at Suffolk University Law School) emphasized reasonableness as the standard: "You don't have to be paranoid. No one is expecting you to be perfect." But what is reasonable when it comes to lawyers understanding technology?

It's FindLaw's "Legal Shark Week" which means, like it or not, you're going to see a lot of shark-themed posts. If you were traumatized as a kid by the movie "Jaws," we apologize in advance.

Today's topic? Three ways you can be a tech-savvy shark, starting with social media, and continuing with metadata and e-discovery. And as you'll see, these tips aren't just for the fiercest predators -- some of them are actually necessary to be a competent guppy:

We can hear you now: "What the hell is unstructured data?" Basically, it's any data that's not in a database. Think email, documents on a shared drive, social media, info on mobile devices -- you know, just 90% of the data out in the universe according to IDC.

Even scarier, according to IDC, unstructured data is growing at a rate of 50% per year. Yikes.

Why should you care? You're a hot shot attorney. Here's why: If your company, or a company you represent, is involved in litigation, guess who gets to go through all those files and pay for discovery? Not so cocky anymore, huh?

The legal field keeps the paper industry alive. From giant text books, to legal opinions, to filings and even bills -- lawyers like paper. But as technological developments increase office efficiencies, it's important for your law department or office to keep up with the times.

Whether you work at BigLaw, or are in-house counsel, you've probably encountered eBilling. If you haven't then it's time you have. If you work at a small firm, or are a solo practitioner, don't feel left out -- eBilling may be for you as well.

The Association of Corporate Counsel ("ACC") and Serengeti* conducted a survey of ACC members in 2010. Based on this information, the ACC posted an informative guide on the basics of eBilling written by Serengeti, which we're summarizing for you below. For a detailed review, you can purchase their 2010 survey.

With the Discovery Channel's famed "Shark Week" already upon us, lawyers using e-discovery could learn a thing or two. Sharks are slimy predators who ruthlessly scour the oceans for tasty morsels, constantly working to improve their methods of zeroing in on just the right information.

Here are a few tips on how to become an e-discovery shark and take a bite out of your competition.

What Is Metadata and How Can It Affect Your Case?

Image metadata is what led to software pioneer John McAfee's arrest, which has led a lot of people, especially lawyers, to ask what metadata is and how it may affect litigation.

It's not an incomprehensible technology, but it is a powerful tool for finding information about digital documents and images. Unless you take the time to strip it out, there is revealing metadata on every digital file you have, including briefs and evidence photos.

You don't want to give anything away about your own case, but you also want to know how to get this information from your opponents. So it's time for a crash course in metadata.

How to Organize Email Inboxes for Lawyers Without Assistants

Assistants and paralegals can make life as a lawyer much easier. And sometimes they can also help make you rich. But for the little things, like organizing your email inbox, assistants can prove invaluable.

Unfortunately, not every firm or solo practitioner can afford one. Sometimes you have to do everything on your own. As a result, organization can occasionally fall to the wayside. And email inboxes are usually the first casualty.

If this sounds like you, try taking the following steps to free yourself from the nightmare of a cluttered inbox.

As if lawyers need any more reasons to fear for their livelihoods in a tight job market, here’s another: Predictive coding is becoming more popular, and could make human document review somewhat obsolete.

Yes, the rise of robots is reaching into the realm of entry-level and contract legal work, the website Lawyerist reports. What used to take a roomful of document reviewers days, weeks, or even months to complete, can now largely be done by computer programs designed to quickly sift through terabytes of electronic data.

Three Easy Steps to e-Discovery Bliss

E-discovery. The very word can mean salvation for lawyers who are tired of dredging through thousands of pages of hard copy documents during the lengthy, time-consuming discovery process.

But, e-discovery is not as simple as it seems.

Sanctions for e-discovery violations are steep, and attorneys now also have to work in conjunction with IT teams to produce the discovery and map out how to produce the electronic documents.

In the first few phases of gathering and preparing your e-discovery, there are three easy steps that you can keep in mind to smooth over the process.