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There's nothing wrong with being technoskeptical. There's good reason for attorneys to take a cautious approach to technological advancements, making sure that the next big thing is actually a worthwhile thing before throwing their money (and their clients') at it.
But you also can't bury your head in the sand when it comes to technological change -- not just because it's unwise, but because it can be an ethical violation. That's right, more and more states are adopting the view that lawyers who don't stay up to date on tech, or consult with someone who is, are violating their professional duties. So, if you are a Luddite lawyer, or your partner or associate is, it's time to join the modern age. If you're not sure, here are a few simple ways to tell.
1. You've Never Heard of eDiscovery
Technological competence doesn't mean that you have to be on the forefront of artificial intelligence or blockchain technology or courtroom virtual reality. But it does mean you should know the basics. And they don't get much more basic these days than eDiscovery.
Now, if you're a frequent (or even occasional) reader of Technologist, we doubt you're unfamiliar with eDiscovery. But a recent article in Corporate Counsel magazine, legal tech guru Robert Ambrogi recounts talking to a trial attorney who had never heard of eDiscovery. "That's a scare state of affairs," Ambrogi told Corporate Counsel's Jennifer Williams-Alvarez.
The bar for being a non-Luddite isn't high, but that attorney definitely wouldn't make it over.
2. You Haven't Mastered Everyday Software
There are plenty of software programs you use every single day, from Microsoft Word, to Outlook, to your internet browser, not to mention whatever practice management tools you might employ. But do you really know how to use those programs?
For example, many attorneys can create a bulleted list easily, but do you know how to use auto-numbering so that you don't have to manually change section headings and cross-references should paragraph 13 become paragraph 14? Can you filter your email so that the most important missives grab your attention first?
Not knowing how to optimize your software means you might be wasting time, and client dollars, doing things the slow way -- or worse, that you might accidentally put a client's interests at risk by inadvertently revealing adverse information.
3. You Keep (Almost) Everything on Paper
You don't have to have a fully-digital law practice in order to be a modern attorney. Indeed, some highly confidential information might be better kept on paper, rather than in your inbox. But paper should be the exception, not the rule. Digitizing your records makes them easier to use and organize, saving you time and clients money.